Have you also pimped up your new and old wristwatches with colourful NATO straps in the last years? I did and I will continue doing it even though the NATO strap now becomes original equipment of a watch.
I started to take of the original straps from my watches and to replace them by NATO straps some years ago. In the very beginning I bought them through the Australian website www.natostrap.com and today I buy them in Paris at “MisterChrono” located at 23, Rue Danielle Casanova near Place Vendôme or online at the shop´s website www.misterchrono.com.
I do not want to claim that I influenced some of the product managers of well-known brands but it might be. In the last years they only saw me wearing watches with a NATO strap and believe me I had to take off my watch quite often to show them the strap. Some said “that´s pure junk”, others attested me to have stile and found the straps as cool as I found and still find them.
For Blancpain I can claim that it is my responsibility that the brand now uses NATO straps or offers them as an alternative to their different others. Marc Hayek saw me wearing my beloved NATO straps all the time and then at a meeting he spontaneously decided that Blancpain watches should get them officially.
Where does the NATO strap come from? Here is a little bit of history for you:
The original NATO watchstraps were created by Great Britain’s Ministry of Defence in the early 1970s and in 1973; they became part of the standard equipment available to British soldiers. They took their name not from the Treaty Organisation but rather from the 13-dig it stock number recognized by members of NATO (it is also referred to as the NATO Stock Number or NSN). The soldiers could requisition a strap by filling out a form known as G1098, which was usually shortened to G10. Thus a member of the military who wore it did not call it a NATO strap but G10. These first NATO straps were made of grey woven nylon and its buckle and keepers were made of chromium-plated brass. One of their defining benefits was that the watch had a fixed pin ensuring that the strap would not break and that the watch would not be lost. The great length of the strap made it possible to f it the strap comfortably around a uniform.
I can´t tell who was the first one to use them officially, but I assume it was Tudor. The Tudor ones just look like NATO straps, but they are fixed to the watch in a different way. If you want to change them you need to take out the spring bars, whilst with a real NATO strap you just thread the strap through the mounted spring bars.
The video shows you how Tudor is making its Nylon straps and you clearly see that the strap is attached through the two spring bars.
There is one strange thing I have noticed: None of the SIHH-brands has presented a NATO-strap in January in Geneva. Did they ignore that trend? It looks like! Let´s now see how long it takes until Audemars Piguet, Baume & Mercier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, Richard Mille or Roger Dubuis will jump on the bandwagon.
Now let´s have a look at the various brands all the sudden using OEM* NATO straps for their watches as original equipment.
(*Original Equipment Manufacturer)
Blancpain & Chopard …
>>> Discover the most exclusive NATO strap for the time being from Chanel
Alex, I like what Tudor did in its cideo with regards to the buckle placement and how to adjust the strap. Are there any other Nato producers that do the same?
I like it because it eliminates the overlap thag shows on the side of your wrist which is why I don’t wear Natos..
Bremont supplies NATO straps with many of there watches. I have a MBII that came with a very high quality NATO band.
Hi there Alex and all,
I would like to point out something I noticed about these NATO-style straps. I call your attention to the side view of the Omega Speedmaster with the NATO strap. That watch is not a thin watch! Granted, I do not know exactly how thick/high it is but I would estimate it is on the order of 12-17 mm. Now adding a couple of layers of strap underneath, that watch will be sitting pretty darn high off the wrist. Your are just asking to be bashing that watch on all sorts of stuff. I have a Breitling that stands 17 mm high. With that strap, it would probably be on the order of 20+ mm high.
Where I work, all door frames and wall corners are steel and I have scratched both cases and crystals on more than one watch (I have a bad habit of cutting corners when I am in a hurry.) in my 26+ years here.
Personally, I do not care for the NATO style bands. I purchase my watches with metal bracelets and sometimes will add a leather strap later. I can not stand rubber or silicon against my skin.
Well just my two cents worth, sorry for the lengthy discussion. Great work Alex, keep-it-up, I for one really appreciate it.
So, NATO straps (and textile straps in general) are considered too cheap for a precious watch. I remember a similar attitude among watch aficionados when rubber straps became popular. Meanwhile rubber straps are widely accepted even on rather expensive watches.
I am using velcro straps (which are no NATO straps but look similar) on dive watches when I am using these for diving. I don’t like the look a lot but for me this is the only pratically reasonable way to wear a dive watch that is more than just decoration.
I like the fact that NATO straps can be produced in colourful patterns like the plastic or silicone straps of SWATCH. And this possibility is not yet exploited. I see many young people with wristbands from music festivals or just wristbands with tribal patterns. Since NATO straps are very easy to change this is an uncomplicated way to pimp your watch. It is still hard for me to imagine an elegant gold watch on a NATO strap but it should be only a matter of time until we get used to that.
After all this is a really new trend that brings some new looks to our traditional passion. And if you are honest you will have to admit that a tool watch on a NATO strap makes a lot more sense than a tool watch on an alligator strap.
Alex, as much as I respect your taste and enthusiasm, i would have to say that, for the good of mankind, all Nato straps should be collected, melted down and recycled into beach umbrellas!
Jeff I really like that comment 🙂
I love you Jeff
You’ve just took out the words from my mouth!
Probably it is nice looking in the beginning but when you wear it a little bit it looks very cheap.
It is the feeling like my gipsies in my country. They are buying exhausted second hand mercedes to show off their bad taste and when they break the windscreen they don’t have the money to replace it. These starps , sorry, look very cheap to me!
Jaeger-LeCoultre had 1 or 2 year ago one Master Compressor with a NATO strap, i can not tell wich one but i’m sure you will find out!
Correct these were nylon straps but not really NATO straps…
JLC did use them on the Compressor Diving watches and Navy Seals as the extra strap.
Hi Alex. I’m curious with Omega Nato strap. Do you have any further information about Omega Nato strap whether if they will be able to be purchased separately, where we can buy the strap, how much it cost and when it will be available. Thank you.
Yes you can buy them separately, they should be available through the Omega wholesale and boutique network and they will cost from 150 to 250 Swiss Francs without taxes included.
Well, the NATO straps seem to be a matter of personal taste. I don’t like them because they look cheap and make every watch looking cheap (ergo: for cheap watches they are OK). I guess this could also be the reason why no SIHH brand currently has a watch with a NATO strap in its portfolio.
Like you, Alex, I am curious how this “mini-trend” will continue. My personal feeling is that there will not be a big boost of watches with NATO straps…
Sometimes, it’s just flawless and in others, quite cool Alex – quite cool!
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