The Zulu watch strap and the NATO watch strap both have their origins in the military, as both have been worn by soldiers in combat. Both watch straps are typically constructed out of nylon, and at first glance, they can look almost identical. In fact, many people have a hard time telling a Zulu strap apart from a NATO strap.
Here’s how to know what you’re looking at:
- Look for the Flap. The biggest giveaway that you’re looking at a NATO strap rather than a Zulu is the extra flap of nylon that rests underneath the watch. The purpose of the flap is to keep the timepiece from sliding off of the strap if the watch becomes unbuckled while you’re wearing it or while you’re storing it. If you see the flap, you are looking at a NATO watch strap.
- Check the Hardware. If you’re looking at photographs of a watch strap and don’t have the benefit of being able to look for a flap, the hardware can also be a tip off. Zulu straps have very thick, rounded loops and an oval-shaped buckle. NATO straps will have slimmer metal hardware and a buckle that matches. The buckle may be rectangular or have slightly rounded corners.
You can take a look at the Zulu watch strap and NATO watch strap designs here at Watch Bandit to see the differences for yourself. While you’re at it, you can pick up a new military watch strap to upgrade your timepiece!