How to Soften Leather Strap Watch

Do you have a favorite leather strap watch that has become a bit stiff over time? Here is the good news – there is still time to soften up the leather on your beloved timepiece! Whether you’ve got an expensive, premium, or casual watch, nothing beats slipping on a soft and supple piece of leather-crafted watch.

How to Soften Leather Strap Watch

If you are wondering how to soften leather strap watch, keep reading. First of all, it’s important to understand that the quality and type of leather used in your watch will determine the level of softness and suppleness it can achieve.

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to properly take care of your leather strap watch so that it stays in perfect condition and looks as great as ever for years to come. Read on if you want tips on a soft leather strap watch!

What Will You Need?

Before we get into the actual steps on a softened leather strap watches, you’ll need a few items that will make the process easier and more effective. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Leather conditioner or oil
  • Soft cloths
  • A toothbrush with soft bristles (optional) 
  • A hairdryer (optional)

Once you have the items listed above, let’s get into the steps.

10 Easy Steps on How to Soften Leather Strap Watch

Step 1. Remove the Strap From the Watch:

First, carefully detach the leather strap from your watch. This will prevent the watch itself from being damaged during the softening process. Ensure that you store the watch body in a safe place.

Step 2. Clean the Leather Strap:

Now that you have detached the strap, it’s essential to clean it before applying any conditioner. Use a soft cloth to wipe down the strap, removing any surface dirt or oils. If the strap is particularly dirty, you can use a toothbrush with soft bristles to gently scrub the strap. Remember, be gentle to avoid damaging the leather. After cleaning, let the strap dry completely before moving to the next step.

 Use a Soft Cloth

Step 3. Apply Leather Conditioner:

The next step in softening your leather strap watch is to apply a good quality leather conditioner. Place a small amount of conditioner on a soft cloth and gently rub it onto the strap, ensuring to covers all areas.

The conditioner will penetrate the leather, providing necessary moisture and helping to restore suppleness. Let the conditioner soak in for at least 20 minutes before moving to the next step. Be advised not to use too much conditioner as it could oversaturate the leather and cause staining.

Step 4. Wipe Off Excess Conditioner:

After the conditioner has soaked in, take another clean, soft cloth and gently wipe off any excess conditioner from the strap. It’s important to remove the excess to prevent buildup, which can make the strap sticky and attract dirt.

Remember, the goal here is to strike a balance; you want the leather to absorb enough conditioner to become soft but not so much that it becomes oversaturated. After wiping, allow the strap to dry naturally. Avoid using a heat source like a hairdryer, as it can dry out the leather, negating the benefit of the conditioner.

Step 5. Flex the Strap:

After thoroughly drying the strap, begin to flex the strap back and forth. This helps to work the conditioner deeper into the leather and also breaks up any stiffness in the strap. Be careful not to forcefully bend the strap, as this can cause cracks in the leather. Continue this process until the strap feels noticeably softer.

If the strap still feels stiff, you may need to apply a second coat of conditioner, following the same procedure as before: apply, soak in, wipe off excess, and let dry.

Step 6. Reattach the Strap to the Watch:

Once you’re satisfied with the softness of the strap, it’s time to reattach it to the watch body. Be gentle and cautious while reassembling to avoid any damage. Now, your watch is ready to be worn again with a newly softened leather strap!

Step 7. Regular Maintenance:

Regular maintenance is vital to keeping your leather watch strap soft and supple. After the initial softening, continue to apply leather conditioner every few months or whenever you notice the strap beginning to stiffen or dry out.

Continue to Apply Leather Conditioner

This will prolong the life of your watch strap and maintain its softness, ensuring your watch remains comfortable to wear for a long time. Remember, always wipe off any excess conditioner and let the strap dry thoroughly after each treatment.

Step 8. Avoid Water Exposure:

While leather is a durable material, it is not exceptionally water-resistant. Regular exposure to water can cause your leather watch strap to stiffen and crack over time. Therefore, avoiding wearing your leather strap watch while bathing, swimming, or doing dishes is essential.

If your watch strap does get wet, wipe it dry as soon as possible and let it air dry completely before wearing it again. This simple preventative measure can significantly extend the lifespan of your leather strap watch and keep it soft and comfortable to wear.

Step 9. Store Properly:

Proper storage is crucial in maintaining the supple nature of your leather strap watch. Store your watch in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight when not in use. Excessive heat and sunlight can cause the leather to dry out and crack.

Also, if you have multiple watches, make sure they are not stored piled on top of each other, as this can lead to unnecessary wear and tear. Consider investing in a dedicated watch box or drawer for storage to ensure the longevity of your leather strap watch.

Step 10. Consider Professional Cleaning:

If your leather strap watch is an antique or an expensive piece, it may be worth considering professional cleaning and conditioning services. Professionals have the right tools and products to effectively clean and soften leather without causing any damage.

They can also provide expert advice on maintaining your watch strap in the long run. Even though this might have an added cost, it could prove beneficial in maintaining the quality and extending the lifespan of your leather strap watch. With these steps, your leather strap watch should remain soft and supple, ensuring comfort with every wear.

With regular maintenance and proper care, your leather strap watch will continue to hold its softness for years. Now that you know how to soften a leather strap watch, you can confidently enjoy your favorite timepiece without discomfort.

Your Leather Strap Watch

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Avoid Chemical Cleaners: It’s best to avoid cleaning your leather watch strap with chemical or alcohol-based products, as these can ultimately dry out the leather. Instead, opt for natural cleaners or specific leather cleaning products to preserve the leather’s natural oils.
  2. Use a Leather Protector: Consider using a leather protector to safeguard your leather strap watch against dirt and moisture. This type of product forms an invisible barrier on the surface of the leather, helping to repel these damaging elements.
  3. Rotate Your Watches: If you own more than one watch, consider rotating them. Wearing the same leather strap watch daily can accelerate wear and tear. By turning, you give each watch a ‘break’, extending its longevity.
  4. Watch the Humidity: Both high and low humidity levels can damage a leather strap watch. Low humidity can cause the leather to dry out, while high humidity can lead to mildew. Aim to store your watches in a place with moderate humidity.
  5. Stay Away from Perfumes and Lotions: Applying perfume or lotion while wearing your leather strap watch can damage the strap. The chemicals in these products can degrade the leather over time. Apply any such products and let them fully absorb and dry before wearing your watch.

With these additional tips and tricks, you can further protect and maintain the softness of your leather strap watch.

5 Things You Should Avoid

  1. Exposure to Extreme Temperatures: Extreme heat or cold can cause significant damage to your leather strap watch, causing it to either dry out and crack or become hard and brittle. Always store and wear your watch in moderate, stable temperatures.
  2. Soaking in Water: Leather is not waterproof, unlike some watch band materials. Drinking your leather strap watch in water can cause it to harden and crack. It’s best to remove your watch before swimming, showering, or doing any activity that might get soaked.
  3. Using the Wrong Cleaning Products: Not all cleaning products are suitable for leather. Using harsh or abrasive cleaners can strip away the leather’s natural oils, causing it to dry out and become stiff. Always choose cleaners specifically designed for leather.
  4. Ignoring Signs of Wear and Tear: If your leather strap watch is becoming stiff or showing signs of cracking, don’t ignore it. The sooner you condition and care for it, the better you can prevent further damage and maintain its softness.
  5. Tight Storage Conditions: Storing your leather strap watch in a tight or cramped space can lead to creases or deformation in the strap. Ensure your watch has sufficient space to lay flat, preferably in a padded storage box designed for watches.
 Ensure Your Watch Has Sufficient Space

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can help prolong the life and softness of your leather strap watch.


It’s clear that how to soften leather strap watch is an effective way to get your desired comfort and aesthetic look. You can oil your watch, use a conditioner/cream, or manually stretch it out. All of these approaches are safe and will bring you the desired result. However, it’s important that you proceed with caution and don’t overwear the leather strap by stretching too far or using too much product.

Taking the time to care for your watch correctly will ensure its durability and extend its life for years ahead. Your leather strap watch should feel comfortable from the moment you start wearing it, so don’t be afraid to give it proper maintenance when necessary.

Go ahead and show off your stylish accessory in all of its polished glory!

Photo of author

Matt Clark

Hi, this is Matt, and I am a leathercraft hobbyist. I have been working with leather for quite a bit of time. When I was a teenager, my father taught me the basics of leathercraft. Along the way I have learned a lot of things about leather work leather items, restoring leather, and creating leather accessories. I started this blog to share my knowledge of leatherworking with others and help people learn about this amazing craft. I also wanted to create a community of like-minded people who could share ideas and support each other in their leatherworking journey.

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