About Horween leather we use in production of our handcrafted leather watch bands

About Horween leather we use in production of our handcrafted leather watch bands - finwatchstraps

The Horween Leather Company has set the standard for the highest quality leathers since 1905. Horween offers a wide range of tannages from our vegetable tanned Genuine Shell Cordovan to Sport Leathers and Footwear Leathers, such as Chromexcel. As always, all of Horween leather is processed at our location on the corner of Elston and Ashland in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Horween leather is made to order  - it gives our company possibility to order the finest quality and the best color leather from the tannery.

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There are different types of the leather Horween produces. I will explain main Horween leather and the characteristics of each.


Chromexcel is the original pull-up leather; using time honored techniques and formulas that were developed nearly 100 years ago.  Chromexcel is still produced in the United States using a bark retannage from a proprietary recipe, and then genuine hot stuffed with our secret blend of natural oils and greases. Chromexcel is characterized by a rich pull-up in full aniline, hand rubbed finishes.  Made to this day with old world craftsmanship, modern Chromexcel carries on a long history of superior comfort and durability.

Chromexcel is available in a full range of weights, horsefronts and side (cowhide) leather from 3.5 – 4 oz (1.4 – 1.6 mm) up to 9 – 10 oz (3.6 – 4.0 mm).  There are many variations of Chromexcel, including versions that are cementable and waterproof.

The craftsmanship involved and the intricate recipe details have been passed through the different Horween generations and continue to do so to this stay.

leather watch band horween chromexcel, premium watch bands, premium black leather watch band, black leather watch band Chromexcel has very little stretch, quickly softens, and develops a gorgeous shine as it ages. It's hot stuffed with fats and waxes for a rich feeling leather that will endure a lifetime of abuse. Most small scratches can be buffed out of Chromexcel quite easily making it an ideal leather for high-wear items like watch bands. We craft watch bands from Horween Chromexcel in Black, Dark Brown, Chromexcel No.8 or Burgundy, Tan Chromexcel 6-7 oz, Tan Chromexcel Horsebutt. Any watch band can be made for 16 mm, 17 mm, 18 mm, 19 mm, 20 mm,21 mm, 22mm, 23 mm,24 mm, 25 mm, 26 mm and the length you need. Also, we craft watch bands for iWatches ( 38 and 42 mm). 

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Genuine Shell Cordovan is the art of tanning at its finest.  More than just a color, it is a very specific leather, from a particular part of a horsehide.  The irregular oval shaped shells are tanned, stuffed, shaved, and then polished – a process taking at least six months.  Each shell is slowly steeped in gentle vegetable liquors. The shells are genuine hot stuffed then slicked onto glass frames to dry.  Each shell is hand curried and shaved by highly skilled artisans to expose the shell. Dyes are hand rubbed on for a deep aniline finish. Finally, the shells are hand glazed to achieve the rich, glossy look and feel prized by fine craftsmen.

This vegetable tanned leather is from the back side of the horse (the butt), and is prized for its strength, minimal stretching, and glossy appearance. Due to its limited availability and the six months it takes to tan Shell Cordovan, it can be quite expensive. It's so overstuffed with fats and waxes that if left untouched for awhile, it'll begin to "bloom." This "bloom" occurs when the fats and waxes come to the surface of the leather and leave a white residue. It can be brushed off easily with a shoe brush and to some this may be a nuisance, but I find it charming.


Essex is a vegetable tanned side leather that utilizes the same traditional tanning extracts as our Genuine Shell Cordovan.  Essex, and its waxed versions, Dublin and Derby, took us nearly three years to develop and perfect.  This tannage is marked by a high oil content and ages beautifully over time. The Essex family of leather is very versatile and can be used in a wide variety of products.Essex is tanned in the same liquor they use to make their famed Shell Cordovan. It's full-grain, super soft, and is in my opinion the ultimate lining leather for the inside of a belt, or a bag. Essex stretches a little, but it's the softest leather I've ever felt, and plenty strong.  A waxed version of Essex is called Dublin. Due to its wax content, Dublin is a little stiff at first, but has a beautiful shine.



Dublin is a full grain, aniline dyed cowhide that is primarily vegetable tanned and then infused with a special recipe of oils and emollients that is the very same as has been used in Horween's premium Shell Cordovan for more than 100 years. Dublin also contains a hard wax which gives the hide a slightly firmer temper and a crackle effect that is quite lovely if you like that kind of thing- and I most certainly do. Because it's a veg tan you might expect it to be stiff as a board and generic looking the way that most others tend to be, but it's quite the opposite. This is a leather that is aesthetically complex with a multitude of color variations due to the oil-pull-up effect, something Horween is famous for. Pull-up occurs when oils are moved within the skin which happens wherever the hide is bent, stretched or pulled. You can see this in numerous places on the watch bands pictured but perhaps it's most pronounced on the edge binding which has lightened considerably due to being stretched and stitched. Dublin also strikes the perfect balance between firm and soft and has less propensity to stretch while retaining just the right amount of “give” and malleability. But perhaps the most surprising thing about Dublin is that it combines high tensile strength with lighter weight than most other leathers.

When designing and building the ideal watch band you want it to be strong, light weight, not too firm, but not too soft, and beautifully natural in appearance. Dublin is all of those things. While aesthetics are always a matter of taste, those who like a leather that has a slightly rustic look with lots of character that only gets better with time, will absolutely love Dublin. If you prefer something that starts out a little more pristine, formal and polished, you may lean instead toward Horween's also excellent CXL. I might also mention that Dublin is also the very best watch bands leather I have ever encountered….

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Dublin cognac watch bands are presented in different models: 


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 Zulu (image below) 

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And Camel model, which has 2  leather keepers 

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All models can be done as for the classic analog watches, so as for the Smart watches. Just contact us in advance before placing your order. 


Famous Horween Derby leather made to a very old recipe.

This a full grain pure vegetable tanned leather, infused with a blend of oils, hand-glazed aniline finish, tumbled, emphasizing a natural look with a heavy pull up giving the leather a softer supple feel.


The ball glove leather is a straight chrome tannage and is designed to meet the demanding expectations of professional athletes.  This tannage is specifically formulated to yield the strength, durability, and temper that are ideal for repetitive use.  Only the very finest full grain hides are selected for this fully aniline, oiled leather.

Cavalier Chromexcel

Premium Pull-Up Leather which has a distressed look with a supple feel, this leather has been produced to a very old recipe with a hand rubbed finish.This is very similar to the Chromexcel but.Cavalier is noticeably more rigid, though pretty close to Chromexcel. The texture of the leather is slightly thin and more waxy than CXL. Absolutely beautiful and soft. Watch bands made from Cavalier leather are absolutely of premium quality and great look. Below is a short video showing the beautiful smooth texture of Cavalier. 


Latigo leather is best described by our friends over at The Tannery Row :

“Horween Latigo is a combination tan that blends the durability of a chrome tan base with a heavy veg re-tan to create an unfinished, natural look that’s excellent for molding. It holds embosses well, retains molded shapes and has both full and corrected grain versions.” Horween makes absolutely  lovely leather, but I'll tell you, their Latigo is quickly becoming my favorite. Shortly can be described as "soft", "supple", "strong", "durable", «buttery».

Latigo leather is full-grain cowhide that's hot liquored, and has been both chrome and vegetable tanned. This leather has an unmistakable toughness and softness.

First it is chrome tanned, then it is vegetable tanned. Before modern combination tanning, latigo had been combination tanned with alum and gambier.

Latigo is usually infused with oils and waxes. Techniques such as hot-stuffing, wet-stuffing, and fat liquoring have been devised to increase the amount of oil and wax the hide can hold. Due to oil/wax infusion, and its partial chrome tanning, the leather is moderately flexible, less rigid than full vegetable tans, but more rigid than full chrome tans. Because of its weight and tanning process, latigo is among the most expensive cattle hide leathers.

It has very little stretch and goes from rigid to incredibly soft in a very short time. This leather will age beautifully and develop an outstanding patina.

BOCKAROO Embossed Grain

Buckaroo from Horween is a deep waxy/pull up with a mellow touch produced on sides. This article is also burnishable with a classic embossment.( Embossed leather is leather which has been applied with pressure, to create a pattern raised design or print). Premium waxy Pull-Up Leather which has a distressed look with a supple feel can also be burnished, this leather has been produced to a very old recipe with a hand rubbed finish.

So far, we have available the following Horween leathers for your choice: 

Horween Latigo, Bockeroo Tan, Honey Nuntucket, Chromexcel in different shades, including cow and horse hides, Cavalier Chromexcel in rich SunGold color, Vintage Chromexcel made from double horse front, waxed and smooth Sherman Brown, absolutely beautiful Dublin and Derby hides to make the premium level watch bands for the watch owners. We strive to increase the leather choice constantly and cooperate with the best tanneries worldwide. Thus we control the quality of each watch band done here by us. Also, we are open for new ideas: if you keep in mind some special watch band- ask us, we can do it for you. Also, note, that we are producers, we do not outsource any functions of watch band making. It means you buy it directly from the crafter without any extra hands involved. And also support small family business development by this decision. 

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And some definitions from the leather terminology:


Hot stuffed and hot liquored leathers that have been aniline dyed instead of being coated with paints or pigments, are sometimes called Pull-up leathers. The oils and waxes darken the dye and when the leather is stretched and pulled, the lighter colors appear when they "pull-up."

Vegetable Tanned Leather

A leather that has been tanned using a very old process that uses natural tannins found in tree bark. This process is very slow and takes a lot of skill.  Vegetable tanned leather is often used for tooling as it takes stamping and impressions really well.

Thank you for your attention and reading this blog post. I truly believe that any watch deserves a good, high quality watch band, made with heart and using the best possible materials, with still affordable price.  If you agree, do not hesitate to order from us. We provide 100% satisfaction guarantee to all buyers: in case you do not like it or the watch band do not fit you - we will make a refund and accept the watch band back without any questions. 

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