I donít know about you, but I can only look at LaFerrariís and ultra high-end, haute horology pieces being showered in bottles of Dom on Instagram for so long. Almost instantly, these ostentatious expressions of ďwatch appreciationĒ appear quite unimaginative, and make me question just where this industry really is at. For this reason, Iíve always searched for the individuals that express their passion in a deeper way – through the sharing of valuable knowledge, and the building of a strong community. They are what genuinely make the culture that goes along with this hobby great. Iíll say that this is something Iíve always been generally aware of, but a little reaffirmation never hurt. This year, thankfully, I got just that and then some, through a project some may know as Straps4ACure.

Upon first getting involved in watch collectorís scene here in Toronto, there was one name I immediately learned: Mike Werb. At the time, Mike was running our cityís Red Bar chapter, and effectively spreading the word through his Instagram page, @mikeswatches. We would typically see each other once a month or so at the meet-ups, and a good time was always had. Thereís something about talking shop with fellow enthusiasts thatís refreshing — itís basically a refreshing reminder that there are indeed other crazy, obsessed people out there just like you.
One of the most recent RedBar Toronto GTG’s.

For the Werb family, 2015 began on a seriously high note with the birth of their first son, but unfortunately, things took a turn. Mikeís wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Once this news got out within the watch community, a definite common concern, and morose feeling could be felt. I can remember driving to work that same day I had first been informed, attempting to possibly wrap my head around what that must feel like given the circumstances. During that time, the community constantly reached out with their best wishes and support, which surely indicated that this community of ours really is more like a family, or WatchFam, if you will.
Photo courtesy of @_queuecumber_ on Instagram.

Given Mikeís active history and involvement in sharing his love for horology with others, he found a great way to raise awareness and fight this terrible disease: watch straps. With the help of the terrific team over at Crown & Buckle, a special black and grey NATO strap featuring pink accents was developed, with the added bonus of an engraved piece of hardware that read ď#STRAPS4ACUREĒ. The collaborationís first batch sold out quickly, and a number of great charity auctions occurred as a result of it. In one case, a strap was auctioned off on Instagram, and a collector paid in excess of $1000 for an example, with all the proceeds going towards breast cancer research.
Hashtag-engraved hardware.

When I first became aware of this initiative, I was absolutely overjoyed and had to get my hands on a strap. To be perfectly honest with you, I could care less what the strap looks like, or how well it pairs with the watches in my collection, because this strap really isnít about the strap itself, itís about what it stands for. Straps4ACure, in my opinion, is the perfect manifestation of what it means to be a part of this community, and what can be accomplished through something as simple as a watch strap. At the time of writing this article, Iím pleased to say that over $12,000 has been raised, and most importantly, Mikeís wife is now cancer free. Ultimately, this project stands to show just how much good can be done through this community, and what can be accomplished through our love for watches.
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