NATO watch straps are by far the most famous and most liked straps for watch enthusiasts, who like to wear individual watch straps on their timepieces. You can find NATO straps on any watch, from 100€ Daniel Wellington, to 8000€ Rolexes, up to 50,000€ Patek Philippe watches. But why should someone put an 29€ strap on his high-end watch? In this blog post we’d like to show you why NATO straps are so popular and what are the pros and cons of single-piece- and two-piece NATO straps. But first we’d like to introduce you to the history and glory of NATO straps.
History of the NATO strap
Like you probably already suggest, the name has its origin in the military. There are more in depth reviews about the history of NATO straps, we just want to give you a quick overview. After World War II the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) introduced the so called NSN (NATO stock number) for its military equipment, including watches and straps. In 1973, the NATO strap was firstly known as G10 band. The British Ministry of Defence standard intended soldiers, who needed a strap for their watch, to fill out a form called the G1098. Later on the straps were known as G10 straps and were only made “Admiralty Grey” colored nylon, with a width of 20mm.
Buckle and keepers were made of chrome-plated brass buckle and keepers. The G10 strap was improved and customized over the years. As chrome can be too shiny for military purposes, as reflections can easily expose the soldiers position, brushed steel- and blacked out hardware were used for these straps as well. Troops wanted to use more colors than only grey and asked for basic military green or even colorful straps, to honor their corps colors.
After all, the special military style watch strap received its nickname by the NATO NSN, shortened by common usage to just NATO strap.
How the legendary “Bond NATO” was born
Make sure to listen to the Dr. No theme song while reading this 😉
In 1962, James Bond aka Jean Connery, was wearing a Rolex Submariner Ref.: 6538 in the movie “Dr. No”. Besides Breitling, TagHeuer and even digital Seiko watches, agent 007 was wearing a Rolex watch in 8 Bond movies until 1989. The first close-up of James Bond’s watch was seen in the movie “Goldfinger” and remains the definitive “Bond watch” to many watch fans even decades later. Besides that Bond watches became famous for their special gadgets such as; Circular-saw-bezel, welding-laser 12 o’clock marking point, or grappling hook shot from the crown – the early watches became famous for their military inspired NATO straps in the typical black/red/green color combination.
Jean Connery’s Rolex Submariner Ref.: 6538, Picture: Danjaq LLC, Sony Pictures Entertainment (left) and modern interpretation of the Bond NATO Strap on a Rolex GMT-Master II 116710LN (right)
In 1995 the watch of choice of James Bond became the Omega Seamaster. In 2015, Daniel Craig played James Bond and wore an Omega Seamaster 300 “Spectre” Limited Edition Master Co-Axial with a striped black and grey NATO strap. A new color combo of the “Bond NATO” was born with Omega and is also available at WatchBandit.
Why should I wear a NATO strap on my expensive watch?
A legitimate question that is easy to answer: If James Bond can, you can as well 😉
A NATO strap gives your watch an individual and cool look and that’s what real watch enthusiasm is about. A high price is not always an indicator of a tasteful look or reasonable higher quality – Of course you can buy a Tom Ford NATO band for $320, but hand on heart, where is the reasonable price limit of a watch strap made of nylon? We at WatchBandit made our experiences with different materials and strap attributes since 2014. We believe, that a price for a NATO watch strap from $29 to $39 is the fairest.
Providing a high quality for a fair and reasonable price is what our customers appreciate. In fact, an original bracelet or strap doesn’t necessarily need to be as worthy as the watch itself, measured by the value of the whole watch. A NATO strap doesn’t make your watch “look cheap”, it makes it “look cool” and presents your individual style.
In the following Gallery, we’d like to show you some strap/watch combinations of our customers paired with following watches: Omega Seamaster, -Speedmaster, Seiko Turtle Dawn Grey, Undone Killy, Rolex GMT Master II, Hamilton Khaki, Tudor Black Bay
Why you shouldn’t buy the cheapest NATO straps you can find
It isn’t the best idea to wear the cheapest NATO straps available in the world wide web on your wristwatch; The nylon used for cheap NATO straps can be very stiff, can have a slippery touch, because of the low quality nylon used. Sometimes they even can have an annoying chemical smell. Attributes of cheap NATO straps really don’t suite an exclusive watch. Another point is the hardware on cheap NATO straps. Most often they’re made of cheap metals, or even plastic and poorly plated. The chrome will easily wear off and the brass will come through. This is not the kind of strap your watch deserves. Choose your straps wisely!
WatchBandit Original premium straps
Since 2014 it is our mission at WatchBandit, to make high quality watch straps affordable. During the past years, we’ve determined the best producer and seat-belt nylon material for our NATO strap. We negotiated the best conditions, to offer straps with a good price-performance ratio. That said WatchBandit Original straps are the essence of a yearlong process and are developed with the help of the watch community and customers. We can assure our customers, with a clear conscience, to wear our straps with any watch, no matter how high end it might be. We use high quality stainless steel hardware elements for our NATOs, either with brushed or polished finish. Sometimes we create limited editions, for example the #wristporn collaboration with black PVD coated hardware.
Be creative with the choice of your watch strap!
Isn’t it boring to wear the stock strap or bracelet of your watch, like any other who wears the same watch model as you do? NATO straps are easy to change, as you don’t need to take off the spring bars. Just pull out the old one and pull through the new one! This way you can perfectly match the color of your watch strap with the colors of your outfit. You can even wear a NATO strap with your suit to have the ultimative Bond look. Stand out of the crowd with your own and individual WatchBandit watch style!
Sometimes or at some places, you don’t want your expensive watch being recognized immediately. Maybe you just want to keep a humble appearance, or you want don’t want to attract pickpockets. The shiny center links of a Rolex Oyster bracelets for example can be spotted over miles. A NATO strap will give your beloved watch some stealth time. Furthermore it’s not so easy to pull it off in a quick way and pickpockets might give up the struggle before it’s too late.
Another important fact is that the watch sits safe “between” the NATO strap. It’s pulled through the spring bars and again pulled through another stainless steel loop. If the very rare case of spring bar failure occurs, the watch will still hang on its last spring bar between the strap and it won’t fall off your wrist.
NATO straps are perfect for outdoor activities and are easy to clean
Like your polyester sport shirt, NATO straps are made of nylon webbing. Both belong to the family of synthetic polymers and just like your sport shirt, a NATO strap dries fast. That’s why you can go swimming or diving with it without any problem. Due to its length, it can be even worn over a diving suit. It’s drying faster than leather, canvas or cotton watch straps. If a NATO strap is a bit stiff in the beginning, it becomes softer after a while of wearing, depending which thickness of strap you choose. While 1,2 mm straps are soft from the first day on, 1,4 mm straps can use a little time of wearing.
Because they have the safety attributes and dry quick, it’s the perfect strap for any outdoor- or sport activity. Compared to leather straps, NATO straps are resistant to sweat and dirt and easy to clean. Just clean it with soap and water, or it can be simply washed in the washing machine. (But better put the strap into a pocket of pants or small bag, so the buckle is not harming the machine or other clothes)
How to install a NATO strap on your watch
The picture below shows you how a the NATO strap is installed on your watch. In the picture you can see, that the watch lies with its dial down. Starting to install the strap, the buckle is always at 12 o’clock. From there you take the longest part of the strap and pull it underneath your watch through the spring bars. Then you pull the strap through the last stainless steel loop and finish the installing process.
WB Original Bond NATO strap gets installed on a Rolex GMT-Master II
Why we created the WB Original Two-Piece NATO strap
Many like the classic NATO strap style, but many don’t like the bulky left-over of the longer single piece NATO straps and that it makes their watch sitting (about 2,8 mm) higher on the wrist. That’s why we designed our WB Original two-piece NATO strap. Our two-piece NATO is designed like a regular watch strap, but with the same seatbelt nylon used for NATO straps and double layered. While staying soft and comfortable, the thickness of 3 mm is perfect for thicker watches, for example dive- or sport watches. A regular NATO strap would cover the beautiful movement of watches with a see through case back. Our two-piece NATO is made of two separate straps, so you can still enjoy watching the balance wheel bounce.
NOMOS Ahoi Atlantic Date on blue WB Original two-piece NATO
If you don’t like bulky strap leftovers, then our two-piece NATO strap by WB Original is what you need! Another thing we’ve noticed, you can see in the second picture on the right below. It shows how you can overlap the first stainless steel loop with the strap and pull it just through the last. Wearing the strap like this, you can lie down your wirst with the soft nylon on your desktop or laptop while working.
Classic NATO straps made from a single strap will always have some leftover on the side of your wrist – Two-Piece NATOs don’t!
Another positive effect is that a two-piece NATO strap doesn’t cause any extra height of your watch, because there is no strap going underneath your watch. The picture below shows the three kind of NATO straps we’re offering at WatchBandit:
- First picture on the left shows the classic height of 1,4 mm. This causes an extra height of your watch of 2,8 mm.
- In the middle you see our limited edition black PVD coated #wristporn NATO strap with a height of 1,2 mm. Besides that it’s only causing an extra height of 2,4 mm of your watch, you can see the finer fabric structure.
- On the right you can see our WB Original two-piece NATO strap, which doesn’t cause any extra hight on your watch. The watch lies on your wrist like with any other regular strap or bracelet and is easy to place under your sleeve.
Additional height of the watch due different NATO straps (from left to right): 2,8 mm, 2,4 mm, 0 mm
In the following Gallery, we’d like to show you some strap/watch combinations of our customers paired with following watches: Omega Speedmaster, Tudor BlackBay GMT, Rolex GMT Master II, IWC Portuguese Chronograph, Hamilton Khaki, Spinnaker Croft, Seiko Diver, Steinhart Ocean One
Pros & Cons of single-piece NATO straps
- It’s the “original” NATO strap
- Military, sporty look
- If one spring bar fails, the watch doesn’t fall off the wrist
- Easy to swap
- Bulky strap leftover on the side of the wrist
- The very sporty “military” style may not fit to a lot of outfits
- The watch sits 2,4-2,8 mm higher on your wrist
Pros & Cons if two-piece NATO straps
- No bulky leftover on the side or unter the wrist
- The classic style of a two-piece strap suits most outfits
- A see through case back isn’t covered
- The thickness of 3 mm is perfect for sport watches
- No additional height of your watch
- The thickness of 3 mm might not suit slim watches
- If the very rare case of a spring bar failure occurs, the watch can fall off the wrist
- You need spring bar tool to swap the strap
How you can determine the lug width of your watch, so that you know what strap size you need, you can find in here.
Thank you for reading!
If you have any thoughts, pros or cons to add, just let us know in the comments!