The Best NATO Strap for Watches in 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

This comprehensive guide delves into the history and development of NATO straps, the best brands to consider, and how to choose the right NATO strap for watches. We’ll also share tips on customizing your strap, maintaining its longevity, and pairing it with different watch styles. So, let’s dive in and discover what makes NATO straps a sought-after accessory for watch aficionados.
Wide Choice of NATO Watch Straps

NATO Straps UK originally developed for the British Army

Who makes the best NATO straps and what makes them so good in 2024? Once a functional military accessory, NATO watch straps have evolved into a versatile and stylish option for watch enthusiasts. Boasting a wide range of materials, colors, and designs, these straps offer a unique way to personalize your timepiece while providing comfort and durability. Are you ready to explore the world of NATO strap for watches and find the perfect match for your watch?

This comprehensive guide delves into the history and development of NATO straps, the best brands to consider, and how to choose the right NATO strap for watches. We’ll also share tips on customizing your strap, maintaining its longevity, and pairing it with different watch styles. So, let’s dive in and discover what makes NATO straps a sought-after accessory for watch aficionados.

Key Takeaways

  • NATO straps have evolved from military issue to a popular choice among watch enthusiasts.

  • Available in nylon, leather, canvas and rubber with various qualities and textures. Top brands offer diverse selection of designs and price points.

  • Customizing your NATO strap allows for unique look while ensuring comfort & durability. Proper wearing & maintenance is key for longevity.

The Evolution of NATO Straps

An image of a classic timepiece adorned with a durable NATO strap for watches, showcasing the evolution of this popular watch accessory.

(An image of a classic Omega Speedtimer adorned with a durable NATO strap for watches, showcasing the evolution of this popular watch accessory.)

NATO straps, also known as nato watch strap, were originally designed as standard issue straps for British military servicemen’s watches, focusing on security and reliability. These two-piece nylon straps were designed to slip over the spring bars and behind the watch, providing an additional layer of protection and reducing the risk of the watch being lost if one of the watch spring bars broke loose. The functional aesthetic of NATO straps gave them a rugged appearance that appealed to many watch enthusiasts.

Fast forward to today, and NATO straps have evolved beyond their military origins, becoming a popular choice for watch enthusiasts seeking style and functionality in their nato watch. With a wide range of options available, including:

  • Colors

  • Sizes

  • Materials

  • Thicknesses

  • Weaves

  • Hardware

  • Prices

There’s a NATO strap to suit every taste and watch type. This diversity in options has contributed to the growth in popularity of NATO straps in the watch community.

Material Options for NATO Straps

A selection of different colored NATO straps

NATO straps are available in various materials, each with its unique characteristics and benefits. Some popular options include:

  • Classic woven nylon: known for its durability and versatility

  • Luxurious leather: adds a touch of elegance and sophistication

  • Durable canvas: offers a rugged and casual look

  • Rubber: perfect for sports and outdoor activities

With such a wide range of materials to choose from, there’s a NATO strap that caters to everyone’s preferences and needs.

The upcoming subsections will delve into the pros and cons of each material type.

Nylon NATO Straps

Nylon is the most common material for NATO straps, known for its durability, comfort, and versatility. Nylon straps offer resistance to creasing and wrinkling, and can be adjusted with ease. The market offers a variety of nylon strap qualities, textures, and looks, ranging from basic to more intricate weaves.

Some popular nylon watch straps, also known as NATO straps, include:

  • WatchGecko Zuludiver Vintage NATO strap

  • Crown & Buckle Supreme NATO strap

  • 18mm olive green NATO strap from NATO Strap Co.

  • B&R Bands Xtreme NATO strap

  • Maratac Mil-Nato strap

  • NOTO STRAP STORE Premium Military Nylon straps

  • Worn & Wound ADPT NATO strap

  • CNS Watch Band Premium Strap

  • Classic James Bond NATO strap from NATO Strap Co.

  • ZULUDIVER Lunar strap

  • BluShark AlphaShark Strap

  • Ritche Ballistic Straps

Leather NATO Straps

Leather NATO straps offer a distinct luxurious feel and unique aesthetic that sets them apart from their nylon counterparts with heat sealed edges. They also provide the added benefit of preventing the metal from becoming cold against the skin in higher altitudes. Leather NATO straps come in various types, such as:

  • Top-grain leather

  • Kangaroo leather

  • Horween Chromexcel leather

  • Green Horween Shell Cordovan

A few noteworthy leather NATO straps include:

  • Barton Leather NATO Strap

  • Crown and Buckle Saddle Kangaroo NATO strap

  • Da Luca’s NATO strap

  • David Lane Design Cordovan NATO Strap

While leather straps may appear dull to some and lack metallic components, their unique aesthetic and luxurious feel make them a popular choice for watch enthusiasts.

Canvas and Rubber NATO Straps

Canvas and rubber are alternative materials for NATO straps that offer their own set of benefits. Canvas straps are known for their strength and durability, as well as the range of colors and patterns available. Some canvas strap options include the Suigeneric Solid NATO strap and the StrapsCo Elastic NATO Strap, inspired by a parachute’s canopy release system.

Rubber NATO straps, on the other hand, are highly resistant to seawater, aggressive chemicals, and extreme temperatures, making them suitable for various industries and outdoor activities. Examples of rubber NATO straps include the Bonetto Cinturini Rubber NATO strap, Bonetto Cinturini Two-Piece Rubber NATO strap, and the ZULUDIVER 328.

Top Brands for NATO Straps

A selection of watches with NATO straps from different brands

As NATO straps continue to surge in popularity, numerous brands have emerged, each offering high-quality straps with their own unique features and styles. Some of the most popular brands for NATO straps include:

  • ZULUDIVER 141 Nylon NATO Strap

  • Barton Jetson NATO Style Watch Strap

  • WatchGecko Prototype Striped Edge NATO strap

  • Bark and Jack NATO Strap

  • Worn & Wound ADPT NATO strap

  • NATO Strap Store.

  • Crown and Buckle Supreme NATO strap

  • Phenomenato NATO strap

  • Ritche NATO strap

  • OMEGA NATO Strap In Five-Stripe

  • WatchBandits

  • Bulang and Sons NATO Straps

  • Sennen NATO strap

  • Clockwork Synergy Classic NATO strap

  • Toxic Shiznit

  • Phoenix G10

  • CNS & Watch Bands

  • Maratac Mil-Nato

These top brands provide a wide selection of NATO straps in various materials, designs, and price points, catering to the diverse tastes and preferences of watch enthusiasts. Many of these brands are known for their commitment to quality and craftsmanship, ensuring that their straps not only look great but also perform well.

When choosing a NATO strap, consider the following brands as they offer an excellent starting point in your search for the perfect strap:

  • NATO Strap Store: Known for its durability and wide range of colors

  • Barton Watch Bands: Offers a variety of patterns and designs

  • Watch Gecko: Specializes in high-quality materials and craftsmanship

Each brand has its distinct features and offerings, so take your time and explore the various options to find the ideal NATO strap that suits your style and watch.

How to Choose the Right NATO Strap for Your Watch

A person wearing a watch with a NATO strap and adjusting it

Selecting the right NATO strap for your watch involves considering several factors, such as:

  • Material

  • Design

  • Thickness

  • Weave

  • Hardware

Choosing a strap should be based on whether it complements your watch’s aesthetics and compatibility with your watch straps.

Assess the compatibility of a NATO strap with your watch by considering the size and shape of the watch, the strap’s material, and the desired aesthetic. Choose a strap that provides comfort, ease of adjustment and attachment, and durability for regular use.

First thing to do is to measure the gap between your watch lugs: Either take a tape measure and measure the distance between the two lugs at the top of your watch or measure the old strap at the point between the two lugs. A good point to note is don't measure the strap at the buckle as the existing strap may taper from the lugs. 

The most popular watch brands are either 20mm or 22mm wide lugs or 18mm is a third option. Some new to market watches such as the Tudor Pelagos 39mm watch are 21mm between the lugs which makes buying an alternative watch strap that much more difficult.

Once you have the specified width of NATO strap, the next thing to consider is the gap between the spring bar and watch case. If you have a tool watch they are typically built to take thick straps for diving so you can choose any material for your NATO strap but if you have a dress watch they usually will only take thin NATO straps so choose a classic or standard strap as they are usually circa 1.2mm thick which is perfect for a dress watch. Some NATO straps can be a lot thicker, so a Premium NATO Strap will usually be 1.4mm to 1.6mm thick but a leather can be up to 2mm thick.

Taking these factors into account will help you find the ideal NATO strap to boost your watch’s aesthetics and functionality.

Customizing Your NATO Strap

A person wearing a watch with a NATO strap and adjusting it

Personalizing your NATO strap allows you to create a unique look that suits your style and watch. One simple customization involves removing the under keeper and inserting the strap through the spring bars of the watch. This modification can give your watch a sleeker appearance while still maintaining the security and durability of the NATO strap.

If you have thinner wrists you may decide to shorten the length of your NATO Strap to remove the excess strap length. This can be done with a pair of scissors and a coin and lighter. Measure the perfect length for youe strap so the excess material can be folded back under the third keeper. To remove any excess material, use a coin as a template to make a rounded end for the strap and cut the excess material away. Then use a lighter to singe and melt the nylon strands to give it a smooth rounded finish.

Consider your watch’s size and shape, the strap’s material, and the targeted aesthetic when deciding on a customization. To ensure the longevity of your customized NATO strap, we suggest regularly cleaning it and storing it in a dry place. Additionally, we recommend avoiding exposing it to water or other liquids.

Tips for Properly Wearing and Maintaining Your NATO Strap

A selection of different colored NATO straps with different color combinations

To maximize the benefits of your NATO strap, ensure it is worn securely and comfortably. Given that NATO straps are designed for security, proper attachment to the watch’s spring bars is vital as it provides an added layer of protection. There are several ways to wear a NATO strap that can complement certain watch styles, so experiment with different configurations to find the one that works best for you.

Regular cleaning with a damp cloth and mild soap will help maintain the longevity and appearance of your NATO strap.

NATO Straps can also be machine washed, so throw it in the waching machine on a cold wash with a few teaspoons of detrgent and it will come up like new.

Prevent exposure to harsh chemicals or extreme temperatures and keep it in a cool, dry place when not in use. Proper care of your strap will ensure its durability and style are preserved for years to come.

Popular NATO Strap Styles and Color Combinations

A person wearing a watch with a NATO strap and a casual outfit

NATO straps come in a wide variety of styles and color combinations, offering endless possibilities for personalization. One of the most iconic designs is the James Bond striped pattern, which features black with two green center stripes bordered by red or black with two gray center stripes. This classic design adds a touch of sophistication and style to any watch.

Another popular style is the Clockwork Synergy Classic NATO strap, which comes in various patterns and colorways, such as black and gray, Ducati black with neon blue stripes, and red, white, and blue. The James Bond NATO strap is highly sought-after. It features a black, red and olive strap, with brushed hardware. This strap style is often seen on watches like the Omega Speedmaster.

The wide variety of styles and colors available ensures there’s a perfect NATO strap to match your watch and personal style.

Pairing Watches with NATO Straps

A selection of different colored NATO straps with different styles

Pairing various watch styles with NATO straps can highlight your watch’s distinctive features and boost its aesthetic appeal. Tool watches, such as divers, field watches, and aviation-style watches, are the most appropriate choices for NATO straps. These rugged, functional watches pair well with the durability and versatility of NATO straps.

Dress watches and vintage pieces can also be successfully paired with NATO straps, adding a touch of personality and flair to these classic timepieces. For example, the WatchGecko Zuludiver 141 is an ideal accompaniment to a field watch, modern or vintage. With a wide range of NATO strap styles and materials available, there’s a perfect match for every watch.

The Future of NATO Straps

The growing popularity of NATO straps suggests exciting future trends and innovations in this versatile accessory. The introduction of new materials like titanium or carbon fiber could provide added benefits and unique aesthetics. We can also expect to see new colors and designs, further expanding the possibilities for personalization and expression.

The enduring appeal of NATO straps lies in their versatility, durability, and stylishness. As these straps gain more acceptance in the watch community, anticipate more thrilling developments and innovations in the realm of NATO straps. So, why not explore the diverse range of NATO straps available today and find the perfect one to enhance your watch collection?

Summary

Throughout this comprehensive guide, we’ve explored the history and evolution of NATO straps, their various materials and styles, and the top brands to consider. We’ve also provided tips on choosing the right strap for your watch, customizing your strap, and maintaining its longevity.

With their versatility, durability, and stylish appeal, NATO straps offer a unique way to personalize your timepiece and enhance its overall look. So, why not dive into the world of NATO straps and discover the perfect match for your watch? The possibilities are endless, and the future of NATO straps is bright.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a NATO strap on a watch?

A NATO watch strap is a two-piece nylon band that loops through spring bars or fixed bars attached to the watch case. It was originally used by the British Armed Forces, and is renowned for its lightness, breathability and secure fit around the wearer's wrist. The NATO watch strap is a popular choice for those looking for a comfortable and secure watch band. It is also a great choice for those who want to add a bit of style to their watch. The NATO watch strap is available in hundreds of colours and styles.

Will a NATO strap fit any watch?

Most classic metal watches and those with bracelet-style straps will fit with a NATO strap, however it is best to double check before making the purchase. Customized watches with integrated straps may not be suitable.

What is the advantage of a NATO watch strap?

The advantage of a NATO watch strap is its durability and resilience, as they are typically made of woven nylon that can handle any environment and won't easily break or cut. They also provide additional security due to the double strap method of attaching the watch to the strap, if one spring bar snaps or falls out the watch will still be retained by the other one.

What materials are commonly used for NATO straps?

NATO straps are commonly made from nylon, leather, canvas, and rubber, providing varied benefits and aesthetics.

How do I choose the right NATO strap for my watch?

Choose a NATO strap based on its material, design, thickness and hardware, making sure it is compatible with your watch for the best fit.

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