Pretty much every watch is introduced with one specific strap, or bracelet, and usually that’s what determines its looks. Of course, watch brands design the watch for a specific purpose, and therefore the watch must have a matching look / style, so that’s all fully understandable. But it can also be kind of boring, especially for those who feel that their watch might also look good on a different strap, and befit a different style. For people who like to change the looks of their watch to the “style of the day” or to changing activities, a few brands deliver some of their watches with two or three straps or bracelets, and we applaud that. However when I saw the new steel Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile on its alligator leather strap, I really wanted to see it on a more sporty and more casual strap, and Vacheron Constantin was so kind to let me give this a try. Since I was already fully convinced of the versatility of the watch, I’m now interested to find out what you think of the Quai de l’Ile in a different look.
Since a few years we see some watches being offered with a choice of several straps. Vacheron Constantin for instance delivers the new Overseas collection with three straps (alligator leather, rubber and a metal bracelet) and Tudor delivers the Black Bay on steel bracelet or on a leather strap, and always with an additional fabric strap. These brands have recognised that watches, with some minor changes, can be matched with your outfit and or activity, and this is not as limited as most watch brands seem to think. For instance a Patek perpetual calendar could be worn on the glossy alligator strap that it will come on, however it can also be worn on another strap and I’m not talking about another glossy alligator strap. Whether it be a NATO strap, a hand-made calf leather strap, or a perlon strap, there’s a lot to choose from, and we see people changing straps more and more. And that’s what we did with the new stainless steel Qua de l’Ile from the Geneva-based brand.
A nice detail is that this Qua de l’Ile is the most affordable watch with the prestigious Geneva Seal. The acclaimed quality certification -a guarantee of provenance, know-how, resilience and accuracy- is very exclusive and is usually only for the most prestigious watches in precious metals. To see a stainless steel watch pass the stringent criteria is rather unusual, and it almost felt like profanity to remove the alligator strap, and replace it with a € 15 euro perlon strap. But it looks absolutely great, so my feelings of guilt went away just as easily.
When I reviewed the Quai de l’Ile in steel with black dial, earlier this year, I already had the idea that this would be a perfect allrounder. While it might have a little bit too much going on (on the dial) for being a perfect dress watch, and it does not qualify for accompanying you while deep sea diving, I do think that for pretty much every other situation (board room, office, sports, leisure time) it perfectly qualifies. And that defines a perfect allrounder in my book.
For several weeks in August and September I’ve worn the steel Quai de l’Ile on a perlon strap, and this didn’t diminish the watch in any way. It still looked good with suit & tie, and also match great with a casual outfit. I must admit that not every watch is such a ‘perfect allrounder’ that it qualifies for this. It might be the Quai de l’Ile’s size of 41×11.75mm. Or it’s vintage inspired sector-style dial. Or the several layers of the dial, featuring embossed markers and a recessed and semi-transparent date disk. Or the intriguingly shaped case with its different finishings. One way or another, it looks absolutely fab in the office and board room, next to the pool, hanging out in the yacht club, having drinks on a terrace, and in a million other situations. It’s not too big, not too small, it’s not too sporty, and not too dressy, the dial isn’t too busy while there’s enough going on to intrigue you. Oh, and in the dark it’s just awesome! (sorry for the blurry picture)
I was already convinced by the good looks of the Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile in steel, and by putting it on another, more casual, strap I want to test its versatility. For me the test was successful and when I look at the numerous positive and sometimes outright enthusiastic responses, than I guess it’s safe to say that many people love the new steel Quai de l”ile for its irresistible looks and its versatility.
When changing straps it might be an idea to ask your watchmaker or trusted shop, where they have the necessary tools for removing the spring bars, and subsequently remove the alligator leather strap in order to make way for… for instance a perlon strap, a nato strap or another leather strap.
When the leather strap is removed, and the spring bars are back in position, it is very easy to slide a perlon strap underneath the spring bars. And once that’s done, you can easily change for another perlon strap, or nato strap. Personally I prefer the textured, and kind of vintage looks of perlon straps. And they come in many colours! Another reason why I prefer perlon straps over nato straps, is that nato straps are always too long (suitable for strapping your dive watch over your wet suit when diving) and part of the strap has to be folded through loops.
What do you think… is the steel Quai de l’Ile suitable for wearing on perlon, or should is stay on the (beautiful) alligator leather strap it originally came on?