The Comprehensive NATO Strap Guide - How To Choose A NATO Strap?

January 4, 2019

Brief History of the “NATO” Strap

Throughout our vast world of Horology, watch straps is an important contributor to how we enjoy and appreciate our watch hobby. There are a lot of different types of bands and materials, but one iconic strap type has shaken the watch sub-culture in the name of a “NATO” strap.  

The term “NATO” strap will confuse the uninformed hobbyist. From the name NATO, the average Joe will most likely refer and relate it to something the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization - which is a known intergovernmental military alliance) produced for its troops.  But looking back at history, the NATO strap, as what we know today, was first officially introduced by the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) in 1973.

Source: Here

Back then, MoD soldiers were originally issued leather strap bands for their military issued chronographs. But after some time and numerous perspiration-inducing exercises, their officially issued leather watch bands would tend to swell and deform. Longer-tenured soldiers were already using the “NATO” strap together with their chronographs and when asked by the newer recruits on what watch band they were using, they would advise them to fill up a “G10” requisition form in reference to the NATO stock number G1098.

Checking back on the watch sub-culture, the “NATO” strap was originally seen in 1964 on the James Bond film ‘Goldfinger’. This fact has caused a debate among watch enthusiasts on the true origin and history of the “NATO” strap. Was this just a movie prop or did the “NATO” strap already exist way before the British MoD officially introduce them in 1973? Your guess would probably be just as good as mine.

Dissecting the “NATO” strap – What makes a great NATO strap?

Looking at your average NATO strap, it consists of 3 main parts; the strap, buckle, and keepers. All 3 of which can make or break the solidity of the NATO strap.

The Strap

NATO straps are generally made from Nylon. When choosing straps for your future NATO strap, you would want to look at the following criteria as they could essentially affect its longevity:

  1. Nylon Strap Thickness

  2. Nylon Weaving Type

  3. Nylon Strap Length

Nylon Strap thickness for your NATO strap offers an extra assurance of security and density as it cradles and secures your favorite watch. From the overall feel, you are guaranteed that your watch head will not suddenly fall off under heavy physical activity.

The same aspect goes with the Nylon Weaving Type. There are few varieties of Nylon weaving techniques used in NATO straps and generally you would want to look for a strap that was weaved with textile strength in mind.

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NATO Strap with Herringbone Style Weaving

One of the oldest and firmest weaving types is called a Herringbone weave and it resembles the bones of a Herring fish. It’s preferably used for heavy duty applications and has an advantage of being quite water resistant, which is something desired on a NATO strap.

Lastly, an equally important aspect of a NATO strap is its length. As we earlier talked about durability and the need of a firmer hold of the NATO strap on your wrist, the way we strap and install a NATO strap on the wrist is equally important.

Typical NATO strap lengths range from 230-280mm. Generally, I prefer NATO straps with a longer strap as it would be easier to do the much-preferred ‘double-loop’ style of wearing. Additionally, we can maximize the use of the watch keepers and ensure that the NATO strap is well installed and secured with the ‘double-loop’ and strap tail flipped back to all keepers.

The Buckle

The NATO strap buckle is something not given a lot of focus by manufacturers previously. A flimsy and mediocre built buckle can make your NATO strap experience fail as it could lead to a disaster.

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Comparing between basic and heavy duty NATO strap buckles

Cheaply made buckles can detach itself from the Nylon band. I’ve personally experienced on an earlier cheap NATO strap where the buckle became loose as it was installed under heavy physical activity. Good thing I was able to catch the watch head before it fell into the ground.

Another important factor to the buckle is the metal type and material. You would want a durable and quality grade stainless steel material like 304L for the buckle. 304L is a common quality stainless steel used in a lot of watch applications because of its known high resistance to rust and can withstand corrosion from most oxidizing acids.

The Keepers

The NATO strap keeper if often not given attention by both buyers and manufacturers because they are just keeping the watch tail in check. In theory, that is true. But as you wear and maximize your NATO strap on a daily basis, the keeper can prove to be a major contributing factor on the durability of your watch strap.

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High quality keepers keep the strap in check

It would be ideal and key to use the same rust and corrosion resistant stainless steel as the watch buckle (like 304L or better) as your keeper is also exposed to the same natural or chemical elements as the buckle. The keepers would also need to be strong, thick, and durable as it is expected to hold and keep in check the watch tail during heavy physical activity.

Introducing the WatchDaddy Premium NATO Strap

After we have gone through the history and what makes a great NATO strap, I have come up with a superior and premium but best of all, AFFORDABLE NATO strap that encapsulates what a true NATO strap experience should be like.

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High quality keepers keep the strap in check

The WatchDaddy Premium NATO Strap Advantage:

  • 1.4mm Nylon Fabric Thickness

    • For that heavy duty and sturdy feel

  • 280mm Nylon Fabric Length

    • For that proper ‘double-loop’ install

  • Herringbone Style Weaving

    • For a firmer textile hold and added water resistance

  • Thick 304L Stainless Steel Buckles

    • For high rust and corrosion resistance

  • Thick 304L Stainless Steel Keepers

    • For high rust and corrosion resistance

  • Machine Engraved WatchDaddy Signature

    • For that added uniqueness and flair

As an introductory, I have released two iconic inspired colorways for the WatchDaddy Premium NATO Strap. Presenting them in the two popular ‘James Bond’-style inspired colorways.

  1. ‘Spectre’ Black and Grey

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     2. ‘Goldfinger’ Black, Red, and Green

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You can check the complete collection with size options in our shop.

Click Here

For South East Asian (especially Philippine-based buyers), you can check WatchDaddy's Lazada page here.

Article Sources:  “Buckle Up: The History of the NATO Watch Strap” 

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