Articles & Guides

Leather Guide – Crocodile Leather

Perhaps one of the more common leathers, the crocodile leather can be found nearly on all things you wear. But do you know much about them?

On this leather guide, we share more about the Crocodile leather. A common type of leather found in many clothing and accessories.

But do you know about the different parts of the leather from the belly to the hip?

Read on to find out more about the different characteristics and types of crocodile leather and how to care for them regardless if you own any crocodile leather bags to watch straps.

Image taken from: Heng Long Leather

Types of Leather

Many do not know that there are actually different types of crocodile leathers. The term is just an umbrella of many different kinds of leather you can find from the different species of crocodiles to the different parts.

The prices of the leather vary from the different parts of the crocodile, usually, the hornback leather is one of the more extravagant parts and the cost is higher.

There are 3 famous crocodiles that are usually used in production for the leathers and they are the Nile, Caiman and American Alligator.

Caiman

The Caiman Crocodile Skin

The Caiman leather is the least expensive compared to the other 2 crocodiles. This is due to the bony skin of the Caiman and this contributes to some natural imperfection of the leather and it is also firmer when compared to the other 2.

The Caiman leather, however, is popular and can be found in many different colours in different tanneries all over the world.

Nile

The Nile Crocodile Skin

The Nile leather on the other hand, can cost up to 3 times more for a pair of footwear when compared to the Caiman leather. The skin of the Nile crocodile is smoother and much less bony.

Due to a higher price, Nile hides are usually found in smaller quantities in tanneries and they are not readily available in a wide variety of colours when compared to the Caiman.

American Alligator

The American Alligator Skin

Of the 3, the American Alligator skin is one of the most valuable leather. It is the most expensive leather on the list and the crocodiles are found in specialised farms in the USA, when compared to crocodiles, Alligators provides a supple and luxurious outlook to their skin.

Compared to the Caiman and Nile, it is the least bony of all which makes dying and processing of the skin much easier.

As this is the more expensive skin, most tanneries do not often keep much of this leather in stock and at best, you can find them in 1 or 2 colours. If you are looking for a particular part of the alligator or a particular finish, you’ll have to go straight to the tannery to make an order.


Different parts of the crocodile

Usually, all the different parts of the crocodile can be used to make wallets, clothing and accessories. In overall, the leather of the crocodile are usually very durable and has a stiff feeling (not too stiff but those kind that you know it is of good quality).

However, the different parts of the crocodile provides a different outlook to a product like the wallet in the image above for example.

The belly of the crocodile is the softest and has the best texture. The lines of the leather are clear and have really good looking patterns and products made from the belly of the crocodile are usually priced at the top.

The back of the skin is commonly used to make wallets and even watch straps. The hornbacks of the crocodile can be seen on the product which gives a unique characteristic for using this part of the crocodile. This part of the skin is really hard and you typically feel the stiffness when used in a wallet or strap. Many independent small leather goods maker such as watch straps usually include the hornback on the strap and it elevates the whole look.

The claw and tail on the other hand are really common parts and prices are not usually very high. This is due to the texture differences when compared to the belly and back, the patterns on these parts are also not as distinctive.


Characteristics and Care tips

Umbilical Scar of an Alligator

There is an uprising of counterfeit crocodile leather in the market and they are generally hard to tell due to the minimal differences. But there are some giveaways and characteristics of the leather that you should know to tell the difference.

One of the most significant feature you can spot on Alligators is the Umbilical scar. It is usually found in a webbing pattern and designers usually put this section of the leather in the products to signify the authenticity. This scar is only found in Alligators and when you see it on your product, it is not a defect, but rather a blessing in disguise.

The Hornbacks or bumps of the leather can tell the different species apart. Crocodiles have a pattern of 4-2 bumps, Caiman 4-4-2 bumps and alligators a 2-2-2 bump.

With this understanding, it’ll help you to distinguish the different species and knowing it’s worth.

Aside from the Umbilical scar for the Alligator, another distinguishable detail of a Crocodile is the presence of ISO Pores. Integumentary Sensory Organ Pores (ISO) houses a hair on each scale which helps the crocodile to sense their environments. After tanning and the process of developing the leather, the hair is gone but the pore will still be present on each scale.

Generally, leathers made from crocodiles are extremely durable, however, they are really pliable and can be bent easily. This pliability contributes to its durability and making the leather really sought after.

An irony of the leather which many does not know is that crocodile leathers, as durable as they are, should not be in contact with excessive moisture or water as it will damage the finishing of the leather. You should apply leather conditioners for the type of crocodile leather you have to protect the finishing and use a dry cloth to wipe off any contaminants such as dirt.


Where can you find Crocodile Leather?

1) Crocodile Hides

Heng Long Tannery

Heng Long’s Crocodile leather

Thankfully, if you are a fan of the crocodile leather, there is a tannery in Singapore which produces the leather in different finishing. They have well over 70 years of experience in the industry and they specialises in crocodile leather.

Heng Long Leather offers different cuts of the leather from Belly, Hornback and Backstrap with 2,000 various custom colours with other unique and their specialty finishes.

If you are interested in purchasing your own bulk of leather from the tannery, be sure to visit them.

2) Watch Straps

Nomad Watch Works ($129 – $149)

Crocodile leather watch straps from Nomad Watch Works

I have probably mentioned Nomad Watch Works in all of my leather guide articles and that’s because they have it all!

They even have a great range of crocodile leather for you to choose from, Hornbacks and different types of scale for example. If you have ever searched for independent strap makers and inquired on the prices of the crocodile straps, a hornback strap would easily be in the range of $200-$300 SGD.

Nomad is selling theirs at $129 – $149 and when you use the promo code “Nomad360” you can get an additional 10% off the crocodile leather straps so it’s definitely a steal.

Hirsch ($220 – $493 USD)

Over at Hirsch Watch Straps, they offer a wider variety of colours for their crocodile leather straps and they also offer embossed crocodile straps if you prefer something more affordable but with the patterns.

All of their genuine crocodile straps are finished with a shiny look which gives the strap a glossy feel. This may not be for everyone but it actually brings out the eccentric patterns of the crocodile skin.

Hodinkee ($230 – $280 USD)

None other than our favourite go-to watch blog/magazine. Hodinkee offers some straps of their own as well and they are not missing out on the luxury crocodile straps.

The prices are relatively high but they offer the Alligator skin straps which we’ve mentioned above, as one of the more expensive and top quality straps. If you have some spare cash and are after a fine piece of wearable luxury aside from your watch, Hodinkee is the place to go.

3) Wallets and other leathergoods

NightAwlLeather

Don’t worry we haven’t forgotten about the wallets in this article.

If you’d like a fine piece of wallet, custom made, you can visit nightawlleather a leather-crafter from Singapore. Aside from crocodile leathers, he also uses Chevre and the Shell Cordovan from Horween leather to craft his wallets.

He is only currently reachable via Instagram so be sure to check his profile out!

Hide_SG

Another Singaporean crafter, Hide_SG does not only craft small leather goods such as watch straps, wallets or bags, they also craft the different materials of the leather such as crocodile skin on the different parts of a shoe.

You can check them out at Hide_SG or through their Instagram to make an appointment!


Final Thoughts

I hope you have learned as much as me about the different characteristics of the crocodile leather and how to tell them apart from the different species and most importantly, the genuine and counterfeit of the leather.

If you like this leather guide, be sure to check out our other series where we talk about Pueblo, Horween and Epsom leather.

Click here for the Pueblo Leather, here for the Epsom and here for the Horween article.


Promo Codes

Use “Nomad360” when you shop at Nomad Watch Works for a 10% off!

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