Pimp My Piece – a review of Greg Stevens Design Straps

Panerai with Horween Black/Old Gold Stitch strap by Greg Stevens Design

Panerai Luminor PAM00540 with Horween Black/Old Gold Stitch strap by Greg Stevens Design

To pimp one’s ride is to improve or customize the appearance of one’s automobile with accessories such as large wheels (i.e. rims) or flashy paint jobs. Well, you can also pimp out your timepiece. Rims for your ride are analogous to straps for your timepiece.

Before I begin this post, let me state that I have NEVER been a custom guy. I like cars to be original, just the way they rolled off the assembly line. And even with watches, I have always preferred the original look — just they way they look in the store display case. I had tried a few custom straps before, but always remained an “original” guy.

When you get a Panerai, however, you quickly learn that there is an entire culture of custom straps and strap changing. Guys collect dozens of straps for their Panerai. And, of course, it is easy to change the strap yourself on a Luminor. The Radiomir are tricky, but still very possible to change yourself. There a few really well-known strap guys and one of the TOP names is Greg Stevens Design (GSD).

Many of you surely know GSD already. I discovered GSD last year when I bought a Radiomir 210 from a guy on Canadian Watch Collector (CWC). The piece had been fitted with a GSD strap and the seller was very enthusiastic about GSD. I didn’t keep that Radiomir for too long, but I started browsing GSD website and I could already tell the high end quality of the used strap I had.

A few months ago, I wanted to order some Panerai replacement straps for a bit of variety and to keep for future needs. When I saw the prices, I decided to order a couple of GSD straps for the same price as an OEM strap. In fact, Greg gave me bulk discounts and I ordered 3 of his masterpieces for about the same price (plus a bit of shipping) as one Panerai Assolutamente strap. And here is my review.

I ordered a Horween Black strap with Old Gold stitching and large, oversized 24mm GSD signature buckle in brushed steel. I also ordered an Oakleaf strap with the same Old Gold stitching and 24mm GSD buckle. And then I ordered a Dakota strap with Antique stitching, but this one on a 22mm Panerai-sized buckle so that I could put on my OEM Panerai buckle if I wanted to. More on that later. I have briefly tried the Oakleaf strap on my PAM00359 and the Horween Black on my PAM00540. I’ll explain why the trial was brief as we go along. I still haven’t tried the Dakota, but I will comment on it.

When ordering the straps, and dishing out some hard-earned dollars, my initial concerns were that these custom straps would look odd or not fit with the look of a Panerai — especially the buckles. I love the OEM Panerai buckles and the thought of an aftermarket buckle that wasn’t marked PANERAI did put me off a little. But one trusted Paneristi told me that such a thing is a true of any piece except Panerai. He suggested that the RIGHT strap would add to the value of a PAM as opposed to cheapening it.

GSD Oakleaf watch strap

GSD Oakleaf, Old Gold Stitch

The first box I opened was the Oakleaf and I recall uttering the word, F__k! I mean…wow! This strap was just bad-ass. It still is my favorite. I decided to remove the black, dressy OEM strap from my PAM00359 and try on the Oakleaf brown to try something new. BAM! The Oakleaf just suits the PAM00359 so well.

My initial concerns were relieved right away. The overall effect of the strap on my piece was…awesome. Even the buckle looked just awesome. The colors matched beautifully…wow! The leather is thick, but surprisingly soft. Very comfortable and very high end. Now, being so thick, the GSD strap is not really dressy. It’s more masculine and military, which is great for my taste. I think my wife hates Greg Stevens because I stared at the 359 on Oakleaf all evening. That particular piece on that GSD strap?? – now that’s everything I want in a piece.

A closer look at the buckle of the GSD Oakleaf.

A closer look at the buckle of the GSD Oakleaf.

I next tried the Horween Black on my PAM00540. I wasn’t crazy about it at first because I had pictured something dressier, more elegant. But the stitching is a perfect match for the numerals on my 540 and the beefy GSD strap gives the piece a very macho and military look, in an all-black form. It’s actually very cool. Once again, the thickness and softness of the leather stand out. The comfort level is HIGH.

I did not try the Dakota yet, but it certainly looks nice. I prefer the 24mm buckles, to be honest. I’ll know for next time. I actually removed the GSD straps and put back the OEM straps on each Panerai. I am saving the GSD for some day later when I need a change. Sometime’s it’s nice to save a treat for later. I’ll put one Panerai on rubber for the summer anyway. And, eventually, swap straps for 359 on Oakleaf and 540 on Horween Black. Dakota will be saved for a replacement when needed.

The other cool thing worth mentioning about ordering from GSD is the interaction with Greg. I knew which leathers I wanted but he advised me on size and options, which was good. You can e-mail Greg some photos of your piece and discuss with him what you would like. He knows his stuff and who doesn’t like ordering bespoke custom products?

The next leathers I would order are Maverick, Girgio and Horween Natural. Take a look. As always, the fun is in the shopping.

Yours truly,


TimeCaptain is a self-confessed timepiece junkie.  He spends nearly all of his spare time buying,  selling,  trading,  researching, admiring and trying different timepieces. He's also a fanatic Formula 1 fan, having followed every single Grand Prix since 1991.  He switches to NFL football in the fall and roots for the Green Bay Packers. A child of the 1980's, TimeCaptain is mad about 80's music,  TV, cinema and pop culture.  Another interest of TimeCaptain is space exploration and the study of distant planets and galaxies. When asked about his favorite watch,  TimeCaptain remembers Enzo Ferrari's answer as to his favorite car- "the one I haven't built yet."