About Micah and Vintager Straps
Hi, my name is Micah and I'm a maker of fine custom watch straps and also a bonafide watch nut in my own right. I started collecting watches nearly 15 years ago, focusing primarily on Rolex in my early years. Ironically one of the primary reasons I enjoyed Rolex was the metal bracelet, which I found handsome, rugged and ultimately durable. As I delved deeper into watch collecting people started mentioning Panerai and the great Panerai community to me. The more I heard the more my interest was piqued, but I was very reluctant to move away from that metal bracelet.
I soon reached a point, though, where I felt I'd explored as much with Rolex as I could and I started delving into Panerai history and knowledge more and more and quickly learned that Rolex had actually made the early Panerai watches that were supplied to the Italian Navy. It was at this point I knew I had to try out this "new" (to me) brand and see what all the fuss was about. As soon as I mentioned my interest on the Timezone Panerai forum a member contacted me with the stunning offer that he had a PAM 111 for sale and that he'd send it to me to try out if I was interested. I was flabbergasted, here's a guy who doesn't know me from the proverbial Adam and he's going to just send me his Panerai to "try out"? Ok, why not, send it along, apparently the Panerai community was even better than I'd heard!
I received the watch a few days later and the very first thing I realized was... this ain't no ugly little leather watch band like you find on most watches. The large, robust, wide strap on this 111 was a revelation. I hadn't really considered it, but a watch this size would of course want a custom made watch strap of tough, cool looking leather. I was hooked instantly. Within a few months I'd sold off most of my Rolexes and replaced them with Panerais. And my strap addiction had begun in earnest.
I bought quite a few straps sight unseen and some were great, others were not. Along the way I met Greg Stevens, who at the time had just started selling straps of his own. I was blown away that he was just... making amazing handmade watch straps and selling them. And people loved his work! I had no interest at the time in becoming a strap maker myself, though. Until one fateful day I paid $200+ for a strap and when it arrived there was a card in the box that essentially said "If you wear it you can't return it". And the strap wasn't even that good. I took one look at it and thought "Well I bet I could make a better strap than this..." and it turned out I was right.
I found a supplier for quality leather and bought some. Turns out when you buy fine leather for watch straps you end up with a lot of extra leather after you've made the one or two for yourself, so I decided "Hey, I'll try selling some of these straps to pay for my tools and expenses so far..." and on September 14th 2006 I posted my first ever "straps for sale" on paneristi.com. I chose the name Vintager (noun: vin·tag·er \ˈvin-ti-jər\, a person concerned with the production of grapes and wine) as a reflection of the fact that I'm a born and raised native of the Napa Valley, where I still live to this day, and also because I wanted to make straps in a more robust, vintage style.
The rest is, as they say, history.
Almost exactly a year after that first post I went full time as a strap maker and now, 10+ years later from the day I started selling custom watch straps I've sold thousands of unique leather, canvas and shark watch straps to customers all over the world. I've never charged shipping and never refused a return either... well except for one or two people who thought that they could use my return policy as a way to always get a new watch strap whenever they bought a new watch ;-) I've been supporting my family with this job the entire time and thanks to people who know that you get what you pay for I'm still here and will be for a long time.