Achieving perfection is hard. Most people, when they’re looking for the perfect strap, either give up in failure or spend big money for an OEM option. When the duo behind Artem straps were on the hunt for the perfect sailcloth strap, they opted for a different way — they made it themselves.
Compromise, to paraphrase NASA Chief Flight Director Gene Kranz, was not an option. So Artem began to painstakingly and meticulously develop the ne plus ultra of sailcloth straps. Before we dive into the details of Artem’s new Loop-Less Strap range, it’s only appropriate to break down just what a sailcloth strap is, and where it sits in the wristwear ecosystem.
Counterintuitive as it may seem, sailcloth straps aren’t actually made from the material used for sails. Just as ‘NATO’ straps have evolved from a very specific design to encompass a wide range of nylon straps, sailcloth has become shorthand for a canvas or synthetic fabric strap that is both hardwearing and rugged. Sailcloth straps are more formal than rubber and more versatile than leather, with an appeal of their own. This, along with the fact that they’re relatively uncommon, makes them a great match for a wide range of action-oriented, outdoorsy watches. Divers are the most obvious pairing, but they work just fine on pilots, chronographs and field watches.
Artem took the conventions of a sailcloth strap and dialed the details all the way up to 11. Topside you get a synthetic material embossed with a sailcloth pattern that still delivers fine texture, subtle sheen and some serious suppleness. Durability and wearability are achieved on the bottom thanks to a comfortable layer of natural rubber.
While Artem offers a range of straps (and accessories), one of the most popular options on offer is their Loop-Less Sailcloth Strap. This sleek sailcloth takes inspiration from the strap that was offered on Omega’s Speedmaster Snoopy — built for a deployant, a high-speed, low-drag design with no keepers to slow you down.
The seven holes are reinforced with an additional section of silicone on the top of the strap, which is mostly aesthetic, as the deployant-friendly design means that the strap won’t see a lot of wear and tear. Speaking of buckles, Artem produces a range of deployants, and if you’re familiar with those offered by Blancpain, Richard Mille or Omega, the general design styles of these buckles should be familiar. For the Loop-Less Strap, Artem proposes the Omega style buckle in either black PVD or regular stainless steel, and honestly, they’re a perfect pair.
Now, the Loop-Less Sailcloth has been in the market for a little while, but Artem has just launched the second generation of the design, which improves on the (now discontinued) original in subtle but significant ways. The length has been reduced so that the strap is a better fit for more wrists. It now measures 97mm by 100mm (the outgoing model was 13mm longer in total). On top of this, the updated design now accommodates a range of spring bars, including curved, ‘fat’ and everyone’s favorites quick release. Finally it’s ready to go on more watches, as it’s now offered in 19, 20, 21 and 22mm sizes.
For now, it’s offered in black with black, gray or white stitching and retails for USD133 (plus USD68 for the buckle). It’s a premium product, make no mistake, but compared to OEM offerings, the value proposition is strong.
I’ve been running two watches with an Artem Loop-Less Strap and a Classic Sailcloth for some time now, and the quality is very much there. Typically this sort of fabric strap takes a good long while to wear in, but the Loop-Less, in particular, feels like a well-worn favorite after a day or so. This is partly down to the fact that it’s quite thin and pliable. There is a little padded spline close to the lugs, but the effect is subtle and far from chunky.
And as for the sailcloth texture itself, well, I found it a pleasant surprise. It really does offer the best of both worlds: a sophisticated look that’s a nice change from leather, while still being more formal than the rubber of a NATO. The natural rubber backing and tough material also mean that it isn’t a strap I need to worry about getting dirty, wet or otherwise destroyed.
Does the Artem Loop-Less Strap achieve that elusive goal of perfection? Well, I’m sure Artem will keep working to improve their product offerings, and your mileage may vary, but for me, I can’t think of anything I’d change.
Learn more about Artem straps here, and follow them on Instagram @artem.straps.