If you’re considering purchasing a high-quality watch strap, you may have come across the term “Shell Cordovan Leather.” But what exactly is it, and is it worth the investment? In this article, we will discuss the characteristics of Shell Cordovan Leather, including its durability, high aesthetics, and rarity.

What is Shell Cordovan (Horse Butt Skin) Leather ?

Shell Cordovan Leather is a type of leather derived from the hindquarters of a horse’s hide. This part of the hide is a membrane in between the two epidermis layers at the back of the horse’s rump. The resulting leather is exceptionally smooth and completely pore-free.

Shell Cordovan Leather

The Nature of the Skin

Shell Cordovan Leather is not the full grain of the face, but the lower layer of the facial skin, composed of collagen fibers of mixed origin of meat and cartilage. This lower layer of skin is what gives Shell Cordovan its dense, pore-free surface.

Origin of the Shell Cordovan Skin

The origin of Shell Cordovan leather dates back to the 17th century in the city of Cordoba, Spain. It was there that the Visigoth and Moor families developed the method for producing this unique leather.

Company Leather Horween

However, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that Shell Cordovan leather became widely known and appreciated for its exceptional properties. At that time, a tannery called Horween Leather Company in Chicago, Illinois, began producing Shell Cordovan leather using a process that involved vegetable tanning and hand finishing.

Characteristics of Shell Cordovan Skin (Horse Butt Skin)


Shell Cordovan Leather is particularly durable, with less water repellence and natural water resistance due to the dense, pore-free surface. Unlike other leathers that can stretch over time, Shell Cordovan Leather holds its shape better, resulting in a longer-lasting fit.

High Aesthetics

High aesthetics is one of the main characteristics that make shell cordovan leather highly sought-after. The leather’s unique texture and tight grain structure result in a smooth and shiny surface, giving it a beautiful glossy finish that looks almost like it has been coated with high-quality lacquer.

Furthermore, shell cordovan leather develops a beautiful patina over time, making it even more attractive. The patina is a natural change in the leather’s color and texture that occurs over time as it comes into contact with the wearer’s skin, sweat, and natural oils. As a result, the leather develops a unique character and personality that reflects its owner’s lifestyle and usage.

Explore Shell Cordovan Leather

In addition to the natural patina, shell cordovan leather comes in a variety of rich colors, including classic black, deep green, navy blue, and rich reddish-brown. These colors are perfect for creating classic and timeless leather goods that never go out of style.



Horses are only raised in a few parts of the world, making the supply of horse skin small and unlikely to develop. Only a part of a horse’s hindquarters is used for Shell Cordovan Leather since this is the thickest part of the skin. Furthermore, tanning the leather alone takes 10 months and a lot of manual work, and very few tanners have the knowledge to tan a perfect hide.


In conclusion, Shell Cordovan Leather is a high-quality and durable material for watch straps, and it is certainly worth the investment for those who appreciate the exclusivity and rarity of the product. With proper care, a Shell Cordovan Leather watch strap can last for years and develop a unique patina that reflects its owner’s style and character.

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