NATO watch straps are fairly ubiquitous these days. You see them on many types of watches, ranging from casual weekend watches to dress watches that cost more than a BMW. NATO straps are both functional and fun, but ironically enough, they’re not actually for NATO. But these straps do have a military history.
What is a NATO Strap?
It all started back in 1973, when the British military began issuing a particular type of watch strap for service members. At the time, military personnel called it a “G10” because they had to fill out a G1098 form before they could get the strap from their unit’s supply store. Later, the G10 became known as NATO because it had an NSN or NATO stock number that identified this type of watch strap.
The original specs of the NATO strap required the use of nylon, with just the “Admiralty Grey” color and and had a 20mm width. The buckle and keepers were to be made from chrome-plated brass. It also had a shorter piece of nylon strap attached to the buckle to secure the case snugly on the wrist.
Through the years, some modifications to the specs were made. The width toned down to 18 mm because of the 18mm lugs in the military issue watch made by the Cabot Watch Company. The hardware was changed to stainless steel. And the colors invariably changed, since even military regiments began wearing straps with their respective regimental colors. And when it entered the civilian world, the options exploded into a hundred different colors and materials.
Benefits of NATO Straps
There are plenty of good reasons why a NATO strap is a good option:
These straps are so inexpensive you can buy several of them. In fact, you can collect NATO straps. It’s much easier for your bank account than collecting actual watches.
2. Variety of colors
You can change the NATO strap to whatever color and design that fits your fancy or current mood. For fashion-conscious individuals, this is a cool and fun way to coordinate the look of the strap with the outfit they’re wearing. You can get them in brown or gray colors to get that same military vibe in the same way that khaki and camo colors became fashionable. Or you can get straps in neon colors or stripes.
3. Dress down expensive watches
In formal occasions, casual weekender watches don’t exactly fit the setting. But you get the same problem when you wear a dressy watch during a casual night out with your friends. When you’re just going bowling in jeans and a shirt, a nice dress watch with a leather or metal strap looks out of place. But a casual NATO strap can tone down even an expensive luxury watch.
4. Improve substandard straps on nice watches
You don’t really buy a good watch for its strap, right? The case, the movement, the display, and the features are what really matter. So when the only thing that’s inherently wrong with a watch is the strap, you can get a more comfortable NATO strap that fits your preferences.
Of course, you can take a tough pair of scissors and destroy the NATO strap, but who does that? The NATO strap can take daily wear and tear for many years. After all, the original G10 was made for military use.
Of course, it matters what kind of NATO strap you get. You need something that at least conforms to the toughness standards of the original, or to the spirit of toughness that it embodies.
6. Easy to replace NATO straps
In fact, you don’t even need to use a spring bar tool to make the change.
7. They’re very comfortable
Get the right kind of NATO strap, and you’ll find that it’s quite light on your wrist. What’s more, they also don’t cause itchiness. And they’re breathable too, so you don’t sweat underneath the strap. With leather, your wrist can perspire, while the metal bracelet can be annoyingly heavy.
You don’t have to get worried that they’ll get dirty when you wear them. You can just wash them and they’ll be as good as new.
9. Worn over layers of clothing
You can wear them over your ski jackets or scuba suits, which adds to the functionality.
10. Adds security
Even if a spring bar breaks, the strap remains fixed on your wrist so you don’t have to worry about your watch falling off.