In the past few weeks I have spent quite a lot of time with the lovely staff at Jean Rousseau in the Piccadilly Arcade. One of France’s hidden secrets in the leather trade, Jean Rousseau make lovely watch straps, belts and other leather goods with an emphasis on bespoke.


A readymade watch strap is £60 for calf, £155 for alligator. But for £75 or £180, you can pick out your own skin, as well as exactly which pattern of scales you want to run across the strap. Everything is broken down by small increments of price – hand stitching for £35, for example.


I like this philosophy, and it sticks out particularly in the leather industry. Most small leather goods are an add-on to a larger brand, and what you pay for is that brand. Few people think it’s worth spending the time to create bespoke versions of such (relatively) cheap products and have the individual service to match.




I should also mention that there is a good selection of skins on site, while a huge variety can be ordered in by virtue of Rousseau owning its own tannery near Besançon. And all the work can be done by one of the two craftspeople on site – much of it in front of you on the ground floor.

This, for me, is how a leather-goods shop should be.



Full report on having a watch strap made on The Rake


Photography: Luke Carby
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Anonymous

Looks good! Also for reference the shoes at cleverley yesterday were starting at £950!

Anonymous

Hi Simon,
They recommend to have two or more straps so that their longevity could also be lenghened. Yet, I have been wearing one made of exotic leather for more than three years. And guess what? It has built up such a patina that is hardly describable! Just lovely!
John

Anonymous

Looks nice but their small leather goods have some rather aggressive branding which is a deal breaker for many.

L Walker

Dear Simon,

I am sure that your experience at Jean Rosseau was a good one, I was not so fortunate.

On examining my watchstrap, newly fitted, I mentioned that I was unhappy with the quality of stitching, for a strap costing near £200 I wanted perfection. per square inch this is probably one of the most expensive purchases one can make.

On expressing my concern about the quality of craftsmanship I was greeted with hostilty, agression and arrogance to the extent that I thought I might be asked to step outside. A thoroughly uncomfortable and unprofessionable expereince.

The young french who craft the straps on site clearly cannot accept fair criticism. Maybe it’s just Gallic attitude but I certainly won’t be returning.

Guy Christie

I was wondering of Jean Rousseau have a shop in New York.

T.Walters

Thank you for article Simon. My Jaeger Le Coultre boutique had recommended Jean Rosseau nearby as I needed a new strap for my IWC. The two French women who served me were so friendly and supportive, and helpful. It was exactly how you described it. 2 weeks later I got a phone call, and only this morning picked up my brand new alligator strap. Beautiful! I will be back to buy more!

Howie

I know this is old fashioned, but looking for a good leather checkbook cover without the credit card slots. Does anyone still make them?

Anonymous

Hi Simon

Are you aware of any other bespoke watch makers in the UK apart from Jean Rousseau?

Winot

A warning: the shop in Picadilly Arcade is closed without notice between 1 and 2 pm on weekdays. This is because they suffered a theft when there was one person in the shop and they are therefore closing at lunchtime when short-staffed. Slightly irritating if you work and went to visit them in your lunch hour.

Nicolás

Do you suggest any particular product for exotic leather care?Particularly for small leather goods such as belts, wallets and other accessories.