Love them or hate them, NATO straps are big in the watch world right now. It seems like every other person is strapping on these woven nylon straps to their favorite timepiece and heading out into the world. But what’s the benefit of the NATO? What does the NATO do that my leather or steel strap doesn’t?
NATO straps originated from the British Military and have a very utilitarian background. A huge benefit of a NATO over a steel or leather bracelet is the fail-safe aspect. Once a NATO is woven through the spring bars, it has two points of retention holding it to the strap. If something were to happen during an operation and one of the spring bars were to break, the watch would still be held to the strap at one point.
Putting a NATO strap on a watch gives it a completely different feel. A very military feel, rugged and dependable. These straps resist dirt and water and at the same time feel extremely comfortable. They mold to your wrist in a way that steel and leather can’t. Another benefit is the color options. Having three or four different straps gives you a huge option for style choices with just one watch. They can play up or mute down the colors of the watch and turn an all-steel tool watch into a fun weekend piece.
The greatest asset of NATO’s though is the price. They can be found all over the Internet for between $10-$20. Rather than spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a new watch, watch enthusiasts can purchase 5-6 NATO’s and have a different looking watch for every day of the week. This is a huge benefit for beginning collectors out there that don’t really know what they like and want to try different options without emptying their checking accounts.
Many people out there on the Internet will lambast NATO straps saying that they cheapen a watch. They’ll tell you that it makes your regal Rolex look like a bargain bin Target purchase. What I think a lot of these people don’t realize is that a NATO strap isn’t permanent. Changing the strap on a watch takes roughly around a minute and that’s if you’re being careful. There is definitely a time and place for a NATO and I would never recommend pairing one with a suit and tie. NATO’s are fun. They’re meant to be worn on weekend trips to the lake or afternoons working on a project in a garage. They’re the proverbial loosening of the tie for your watch.
There are a ton of places online to purchase NATO straps and it can be difficult to know where to start. We recommend checking out Crown & Buckle as they offer a huge variety of straps and their shipping speed and customer service is top notch.
Do you have a NATO for your watch? Submit a pic to firstname.lastname@example.org and one lucky winner will receive a $15 Amazon Gift Card and have their photo featured on the site! (Winner will be chosen Friday, February 28th.)