What is tan leather?
Thousands and thousands of years ago, people had one problem, among the several dozen others. That was how to preserve the skin of an animal, so it can serve their purposes, for instance, clothing and building shelter. To preserve the skin, you must remove the water molecules inside it, but that gives you another problem - the skin becomes too dry and loses its flexibility. So, people started using natural tanning solutions, to prevent that from happening. The ancient solutions were quite different than the ones we use. Sometimes they included animal brains, guts, and even urine. Later, the most common and most useful solutions used were (luckily) found in trees and vegetables. This process was slow (30-60 days), complex, and required a lot of skilled craftsmen.
So, in 1858, the skin/leather industry invented a new process, using chemical solutions, mostly chromium salt. The new process was much cheaper and much quicker. So today, 90% of the world’s tan leather is produced this way. But, that raised a few issues, mostly for the toxic water, that can cause a great ecological catastrophe if left untreated. As a responsible company, Nordgreen decided it wants nothing to have with the chemically tan leather watches, and we use only vegetable-tanned watch bands.
Vegetable-tanned leather vs chrome tan leather
Vegetable tanning - pros and cons
This form of tanning has roots in ancient craftsmanship, much like mesh production. Did you know that the ancient Italian tannery was discovered in the 19th century, in the ruins of Pompeii? The tannery was buried under the layers of ash in AD 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The tradition still persists, and skilled Italian craftsmen will share no secret about the process, making vegetable-tanned leather a bit mysterious and a lot more prestigious.
By using only natural tanning solutions, the vegetable tanning process produces no negative impact on nature. Leather made this way has a rich, earthy smell that no other material can even come close. In fact, this slow process assures the quality and longevity of the leather. The men’s tan leather watch produced this way will last you much, much longer, as the strap won’t crack or get dry. Leather straps usually last up to 18 months, but the ones produced by this method can last significantly longer.
The negative aspects of vegetable tanning are just a few. As it’s a slow process and requires a lot of skills, vegetable-tanned leather is generally more expensive than the chemically tanned one. Also, the colors are not that vivid, and eventually, get darker over time.
Chrome tanning - pros and cons
As we said, chrome tanning became a thing in the industrial era. The process is quicker, cheaper, and can be almost 100% automated. The colors are much more vivid than the vegetable-tanned ones. Also, the skin produced is much thinner and softer.
Chrome tanned leather is generally just a lower class leather. It doesn’t last long and doesn’t appear natural, too. Also, chrome tanning factories, besides leather, produce a massive amount of toxic wastewater. That is an issue, especially in the third world countries, with cheaper labor and lower labor protection. As a company that works on protecting the environment and the working class, Nordgreen decided it wants nothing to do with the chrome tanning leather. The impact on the environment is just too big. Although the chrome tanned leather has a much lower price, the quality is also significantly lower, so in the end, you get a low-quality watch. And we make our watches to endure the test of time.
How can you recognize the real men’s tan leather watch strap?
With our Nordgreen watches, the process is easy. Every single of our watches comes with a Certificate of authenticity, along with the 2-year warranty. Also, we have a “genuine leather” stamp on the inside of every leather strap. Also, every tanned leather strap will develop a thin layer of patina through usage. Not to confuse it with the bronze watches patina, this is something quite different. A tanned leather patina develops through years of usage and every watch strap will look unique and different. For instance, saltwater and rain will leave splash marks. Natural oils from your sweat and skin will leave dark patches, while the sun and the heat will cause the appearance of the golden tones. This is a beautiful natural process that just adds to the beauty of the tanned leather.
Also, you can use your senses. You can tell the difference between real tanned leather and a copycat one just by smelling it. Real leather has a hard, earthy smell with natural notes inside. All the other leather types can’t copy this smell. The real tanned leather will also quickly absorb the water, unlike the fake ones. Given its porous texture that resembles human skin, genuine tanned leather is not smooth in touch. It has all the little imperfections that make her truly unique and, as far as our concern, perfect for our unique Nordgreen watches.