California caves first as campaign to ban crocodile watch straps bites


Victory! declared PETA, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals protest movement, as California imposed a ban on the sale of exotic skins in September.

The law states that all products using skins from alligators and crocodiles must be removed from sale on January 1, 2020.


Legislators and animal rights protesters probably had luxury fashion conglomerates houses like Hermès and Louis Vuitton in their sights when the ban was considered, but the watch business has been affected and, according to brands and retailers speaking to WatchPro this week, the process of replacing croc and alligator straps is in chaos.

The use of exotic skins has been controversial for many years, and the fashion houses have been reacting in different ways. Chanel has banned their use outright, while LVMH has stated it will only use exotics from ethical sources.

Selfridges in London said earlier this year that it will ban the sale of exotic animal skins such as alligator, crocodile and python from February 2020.

A major luxury watch retailer in California, who asked not to be named, says he wishes the brands had lobbied the governor of California more effectively, but is now dealing with the consequences of the ban.

The process has not been smooth. “Brands are scrambling to change out the croc straps to calf but they do not have an organized plan. We have to do it because we have been told we cannot even display croc straps from January 1,” the retailer said.

Most brands are swapping the straps for free, but others including Rolex are saying they will buy back watches that cannot be displayed after January 1, but there will be a restocking fee. Rolex’s Cellini and DateJust collections have models that use crocodile leather straps.


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  1. Hmmmmm…. The labs may need to finda method of simulation for these animal skins: i think, like fake fur, it can be done in a tasteful way to appeal visually with even the added smell! Many saw this coming, just not as suddenly as round the corner, however, well intentioned buyers will consider the alternative. No matter how pricey these skins are, when used on watches, steel abd precious metals outlast them in the long term everyday use!

    • Another stupid law enacted by the morons in the California state legislature that we certainly didn’t need, and it won’t be effective. As an entrepreneur here for nearly four decades, and a watch enthusiast for over half a century, there isn’t one area of life these totalitarian=leftists here won’t try to control. In my view, anyone who would start a new business in this state should have their head examined by a doctor!

      This Democratic controlled state wants to outlaw virtually everything, yet continue to run up massive bills that are expected to be borne by taxpayers. At the state level alone, we have over $ 1.3 trillion in unfunded liabilities! This is unsustainable and will eventually lead to the state’s destruction. Small business owners are leaving by the thousands. Increasing regulations and taxes are the reason. The bottom line is that nobody can plan their life here when you have state government taking what is wants with abandon with absolutely no accountability at al. In summary, the once Golden State is gone, and it’s never going to be able to return to its former greatness.


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