Weaving The Way Forward With Julien Faure
A high-quality strap is one of the most important components of an exceptional wristwatch. It’s a quintessential part of the modern wristwatch and not something that should be left as an afterthought.
Since 2010, with the introduction of the Heritage Chrono, TUDOR has worked with French haute couture ribbon-maker Julien Faure to create superlative fabric straps that carry on a centuries-long tradition of craftsmanship and quality. The St-Étienne region of France has been making ribbons since the Renaissance, when silk production migrated north from Italy. Today, it is one of the last places in the world where people still have the know-how and the old-school technology needed to create these rare woven treasures.
Julien Faure is a family company, today run by the great-grandson of the founder, Julien Faure, who established his namesake workshop in 1864. He too is named Julien Faure – a family name that lives on through both the company and its proprietor. Tradition and a dedication to doing things “the right way” can be found at every turn, making it a perfect match for TUDOR.
For TUDOR’s watch straps, Julien Faure uses 19th-century shuttle looms that weave the fabric in a unique way that cannot be duplicated on modern electronic looms. They operate very slowly compared to contemporary machinery, producing only six metres of material per day. For context, one metre of fabric produces just three watch straps, meaning a single loom can only create 18 watch straps per day.
To create a particular strap, Julien Faure adjusts the thickness of the yarns, the materials of the yarns, the numbers of different yarns, and the weaving pattern to dial in a particular look and feel. For TUDOR’s straps, very fine yarns are used, meaning you need much greater quantities of these yarns. But this produces a strap with great flexibility and great strength, an ideal combination when making a watch strap that needs to be both comfortable and durable for a long time. TUDOR’s fabric strap differ from traditional fabric straps because they incorporate a “tunnel” for the spring bars that fasten the strap to the watch, making it more secure than a traditional fabric strap design. The design still maintains the utilitarian benefit of the watch staying secured even if a spring bar is compromised.
Working this way presents additional challenges as well. In addition to making the straps and ribbons themselves, Julien Faure must maintain its specialized looms, some of which are hundreds of years old. There are no replacement parts available off the shelf or operating manuals to be found online – repairing and operating these machines is a craft in and of itself, and one that is crucial to the continued production of Julien Faure’s fine products.
The Heritage Chrono was the first watch ever to be offered with a woven fabric strap of this quality, but since 2010, TUDOR has created many additional straps with Julien Faure for various watches in the collection. There are variations on the original stripe motif, as well as solid colors and even camouflage patterns, always created in colors that perfectly complement the watches which they accompany.
Most recently, TUDOR created a new style of fabric strap with Julien Faure for the Pelagos FXD, which includes reinforced stitching and a self-gripping fastening system. It feels like a natural extension of the watch itself, perfectly in harmony with the watch’s no-nonsense ethos, while still being exceptionally comfortable for everyday wear.
When weaving the way to the future, sometimes it pays to look to the past.