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History of The NATO Watch Strap

History of The NATO Watch Strap


When you hear the words NATO strap, the first thing that comes to mind is the international alliance of forces, right? Well, it goes beyond the alliance because the design and creation of the strap were for utility, sturdiness, ruggedness and outdoor use without the worries of getting wet from water, sweat and moisture retention. It has created a craze amongst watch collectors to wear their timepieces in a more functional yet distinctively stylish and fun way! The straps will complement any watch, from the popular Seiko to the high end Patek!




The NATO watch straps have nothing to do with the international military alliance. They were, in fact, the standard issued wristwatch straps of the British Ministry of Defense. They were first distributed to soldiers in 1973 - 66-15, after completing the G1098 (aka G10) form. After filing the form they pick up the item from their supply store.  The name NATO was an abbreviation of their stocking number NATO stocking number or NSN. Fun historical facts about the straps are:


  • They only came in one color, Admiralty Grey. with the specific width of 20mm with chrome-plated brass buckle and keepers.
  • Being a standard military issue, they were made from sturdy nylon material.
  • An important element was a shorter piece of nylon strap attached to the buckle, for functionality and fail-safe features. The extra nylon piece limits the distance the case can move. So the watch fits snugly on the wrist.
  • It’s designed to withstand any rough motion, so an extra spring bar is added in case the first one breaks.
  • James Bond NATO strap is a look into the future of watch straps. In the Goldfinger Bond movie, Sean Connery was sporting his 6528 Submariner with a navy blue nylon strap and red and green stripes. It is a future look into the watch strap trend because the film was made in 1964, 9 years before the issuance of the MoD G10. But that did not stop the reference of the NATO strap with the franchise.


Notwithstanding Bond’s popular strap, it took years for the nylon industry to latch on to the technology and for the trend to be picked up by watch aficionados. People who were into more utilitarian designs and had active lifestyles were the first adopters because of the apparent usefulness and streetsmart appeal.


Fast forward into the present, material for the straps improved, including the buckles and keepers - from chrome to stainless steel. The utility is still prevalent and designs skyrocketed that produced hundreds of different colors, stripes and materials used. They remain inexpensive and sturdy, and are interchangeable depending on the outfit or even mood of the wearer. For most collectors, straps might outnumber the watches they match.


The Coolest Item In The Accessory Drawer


For most men, their watches are their best accessory no matter where they are going, whether attending a board meeting, attending an office party or scuba diving. NATO straps bring you to another level of understated style. It is cool in the sense that no matter the watch, make or price, it enhances durability and usefulness.


The NATO straps features made an impression with the military of various countries, including the French Navy. The outcome was the Marine Nationale. French Navy personnel are well treated with various gears and accessories including official watches used on duty. Tudor 7922, 7924 and Submariner snowflake 7016 are watches issued by the French Navy with NATO straps. The Marine Nationale style has one solid color and one thin stripe in the middle, simple yet very elegant and French.


French Marine Nationale use an elasticated parachute webbing material, with a simple army green color and one pinstripe color in the middle, running all through-out the strap. Colors including the stripes have sprouted out like mushrooms as many watches and strap collectors hoarded the model.


Aside from elastic material, leather NATO straps are also available. The sleek and formal appeal of leather on wrist epitomizes elegance and luxury with the edgy NATO design trademark.


In conclusion, the watch straps are well made to fit the accessory nicely on the wrist and enhance its utility. NATO straps have evolved to be a stylish trend that epitomize street smarts without being overboard. It is not as flashy as a metal bracelet but very distinctive, including the trademark stripes.