A Complete Information to Watch Straps

A Comprehensive Guide to Watch Straps

A visible glossary to the opposite half of a watch’s look.

A correct strap is an important companion to any watch, and switching it out is a straightforward strategy to experiment with an entire new fashion. A broad and numerous strap assortment can drastically prolong the variety of combos accessible to you; to an observer, the band is usually extra seen than the face of the watch, so a big assortment of straps will make a small assortment of watches seem actually huge.

By their very nature, watch straps are sometimes significantly cheaper than a wholly new watch, so it’s typically cheaper to broaden one’s assortment of straps over splurging on one other watch. That’s to not say one shouldn’t personal an assortment of watches – simply ensure you don’t neglect that which connects them to your wrist.

There’s a fully humungous quantity of watch straps accessible to you, and I’ll do my finest to doc the very best watch straps right here. Every strap has an enchanting historical past, so if one among them jumps out at you, the accompanying textual content will certainly be an attention-grabbing learn. Lastly, make sure to take a look at the lists of accessible retailers; they need to assist you to discover precisely what you’re searching for, no matter your value vary. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit additional to get precisely what you need!

With out additional ado, let’s get began!

Revised and expanded spring 2021. 

Learn how to Measure a Watch Band

how to measure a watch band

An inexpensive watch pin device makes it straightforward to swap straps out and in.

Watch bands are bought in sizes measured in millimeters based mostly on the inside width of the watch lugs. Should you’r fortunate, the dimensions could also be printed on the again of the present watch strap.

To measure, use a metric ruler or a free printable template like this one to seek out the gap between the lugs of the watch case or the spring bar finish of the present strap. Don’t embrace the spring bar within the measurement. As a refresher, there are 10 millimeters in a centimeter.

Watch Strap Varieties

Desk of Contents Click on on every to leap to its part

NATO Strap

Nato Strap

The Finest Males’s Dive Watches

Initially developed for British Military troopers within the 1970s, the NATO strap initially debuted below the identify “G10”, a title taken from the shape for requisition. Though comparable types may be traced again to World Struggle II, this was the primary look of the strap below its modern title.

It shortly grew in recognition all through the army, and over time, most of the people steadily started to understand the strap for its quite a few options and skills. When the Chilly Struggle ended, G10 straps have been bought in army surplus outlets across the nation, they usually have been all branded with a novel NATO Surplus Quantity. Surplus shops bought out shortly, however watch strap retailers sprung as much as make the most of the surge in recognition. The veritable storm of NATO straps by no means fairly ended, and they’re positive to stay well-liked for many years to return.

Probably the most notable function of a NATO strap is its single-piece development; most different straps are composed of two separate items, and might solely be utilized by eradicating each of the spring bars that connect to the watch. Switching out straps is often a time consuming course of, however NATO straps are merely woven beneath the spring bars, to allow them to be eliminated or utilized in a matter of seconds.

Lastly, the addition of a watch keeper strap ensures that the watch case will stay firmly in your wrist even when one of many spring bars snaps. James Bond has famously worn NATO straps throughout movies and actors. All of those traits make NATO straps a wonderful selection for almost any state of affairs, and their low value is a boon to these on a price range.

Retailers:

One Piece Slip-Through & Zulu

zulu strap

A Timex slip-thru watch strap

Trademarked by Maratac, Zulu straps have surprisingly little background for such an attention-grabbing identify. Though clearly impressed by NATO straps, there are a couple of minor variations that separate the 2. Firstly, they’re composed of thicker supplies, be it nylon or leather-based. This barely will increase their energy and sturdiness, however in addition they won’t match between the spring bars of some watches. Secondly, Zulu straps have bigger, extra rounded hardware to accommodate their elevated girth.

In distinction, NATO straps have small, squared-off buckles and rings that higher go well with its lowered quantity.  Lastly, the watch keeper strap is an optionally available inclusion on Zulu watch bands, so they’re accessible in each Three- and 5-ring configurations. Both means, there may be virtually no aesthetic influence, so simply go together with no matter you discover to be probably the most snug.

Thinner straps extra akin to a NATO however with out the keeper strap are additionally generally discovered labeled as one piece or slip-thru, such because the Timex within the picture above.

What is the distinction between a NATO strap and a Zulu strap?

differences between nato strap and zulu strap

The widely bigger dimensions Zulu straps make them particularly good for big watches, because the face is extra akin to the hardware when it comes to dimension. Conversely, NATO straps are glorious for small watches; the thinner materials is extra prone to match via the spring bars, they usually have a extra proportionate look. Zulu straps additionally take a bit longer to interrupt in, however on the similar time, they are going to most definitely last more than a NATO.

Ultimately, it comes down to private desire – some individuals can’t deal with the additional bulk a Zulu gives, however others discover NATO straps to be too flimsy. I like to recommend choosing up one among every kind and deciding which you like in-person!

Retailers:

Rally

Rally watch strap

The Watch Discussion board

Impressed by old fashioned racing gloves, Rally straps may be simply acknowledged by the three or extra massive perforations punched out under the lugs. Automotive racing is primarily a check of pace, and weight performs straight into the utmost achievable velocity – as such, many early race vehicles have been constructed of elements with holes drilled via them. This decreased the general weight, so nearly all the pieces manufactured from metallic was perforated to some extent. To stay aesthetically constant, driving gloves (and later, rally straps) have been perforated, too.

Some may argue that the perforations existed primarily for air flow and breathability, however it’s troublesome to inform the true purpose. Race vehicles are notoriously heat, and perforations helped to scale back each warmth and weight, so it may have been both one!

No matter their origin, Rally straps are an awesome selection for summer season put on. Even when it wasn’t the unique intention, the perforations do considerably enhance air flow, which may be helpful in the summertime warmth. Moreover, there’s no more sensible choice of strap to pair with a classic chronograph, since they have been often used to time races. If the fashion or historical past of the Rally strap appeals to you, I extremely advocate choosing one up.

Retailers:

Oyster

Oyster watch strap

Launched by Rolex within the 1930’s, the Oyster bracelet is an absolute basic in each sense of the phrase. The Oyster is characterised by its lengthy and thick three-piece hyperlink design, and is by far the most well-liked bracelet mannequin accessible. It has premiered on almost each Rolex mannequin to this point, and has gained an enormous following because of this.

Whereas its storied historical past is one purpose for its success, many individuals swear by it for its sheer performance. The broad heart bar makes every hyperlink robust and fewer liable to stretching, so the bracelet is exceedingly sturdy. Moreover, the comparatively small variety of hyperlinks reduces the variety of potential break factors. This does come at a price, nonetheless; the lowered variety of swivel factors makes the strap really feel a bit stiff compared to different bracelets.

Other than this minor downside, the Oyster bracelet is a good selection for almost any watch. The hefty hyperlinks are sometimes extra proportionate on a big watch, however it appears to be like nice on a smaller one, too. The Oyster has an unlimited and attention-grabbing historical past, and it’s not going wherever anytime quickly. Should you’re fascinated with experimenting with bracelets, it is a nice first step!

Retailers:

President

Initially worn on the Rolex Day-Date in 1956, the President bracelet acquired its identify from its shut affiliation with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Because the story goes, Rolex supplied Mr. Eisenhower the corporate’s 150,000th licensed chronometer as a token of respect, which he gladly accepted. The relative width of every hyperlink piece is much like that of the Oyster, however there’s a drastic distinction within the variety of complete hyperlinks. The President bracelet is markedly denser than the Oyster, so every hyperlink is way shorter as compared.

This eliminates the issue of stiffness, however it does current a possible downside when it comes to sturdiness. The rise in complete hyperlinks additionally results in a direct enhance in possible break factors, however this shouldn’t be a serious concern. You may discover a small quantity of stretching after in depth put on, however this relies solely on the standard of the strap, not its hyperlink development.

The President bracelet is significantly extra formal than the Oyster as a result of its compact hyperlinks. This additionally will increase the strap’s versatility, since it may be dressed up and down extra simply. For that reason, it is a wonderful selection when versatility is a main concern. It usually works finest with small- to medium-sized watches, however this comes down to private desire.

Retailers:

Jubilee

jubilee watch band

The Jubilee bracelet was first launched in 1945 for Rolex’s 40th anniversary – it premiered on the Datejust, one among Rolex’s most famed gown watches. Although it was at first solely accessible in gold, metal and two-tone variations have been launched quickly after.  The Jubilee is characterised by three slender, extremely polished hyperlinks located between the thick, matte end facet hyperlinks. The full variety of hyperlinks is an identical to that of the President bracelet, however the central portion tends to seem narrower as a result of its triple-wide development.

When positioned on a watch, the Jubilee attracts consideration to the middle of the watch face, minimizing the footprint on the wrist. The 2-tone variations exacerbate this impact, particularly when the central hyperlinks are a unique colour than the watch case. As such, a Jubilee bracelet (be it of mono- or duo-tone development) is a wonderful selection for big and small watches alike, because it brings out the very best qualities in each.

The one true downside with the Jubilee is its propensity in direction of stretching over lengthy intervals of time. Identical to the President, the Jubilee’s small hyperlinks cut back its structural integrity. After some time, the pins holding every hyperlink collectively are likely to broaden and loosen, steadily extending previous the wearer’s true wrist dimension. Fortunately, trendy development capabilities have mounted lots of the structural issues, so the marginally decreased sturdiness is barely seen on classic fashions. Until you set it via some critical abuse, it is best to by no means have to fret a few Jubilee strap sporting out.

Retailers:

Engineer

Engineer watch bracelet

Strapcode

Designed to be extraordinarily chunky, Engineer bracelets have a notoriously massive wrist presence. Believed to have been created by Seiko, the Engineer is an ideal match for hefty dive watches as a result of its proportionally sized hyperlinks. Although these hyperlinks are fairly massive, they’re stacked to a width of 5 complete hyperlinks, so they seem fairly visually dense. The hyperlinks themselves are sometimes lower in a pseudo-hexagonal sample, which makes them angular in a means that few different bracelets can match.

The sheer dimension of the Engineer bracelet additionally causes it to be exceedingly heavy and thick, so that you may expertise a little bit of wrist fatigue whenever you first begin sporting it. After all, the Engineer does make up for its unwieldy quantity with its unimaginable sturdiness, so it’s a wonderful selection for a beater watch.

Whereas its cumbersome look may at first steer small-wristed folks away, one should think about that proportions are extra essential than bodily dimensions. As said beforehand, Engineer bracelets have an simple wrist presence, however this makes them good to pair with massive divers just like the Seiko Monster. The bracelet itself matches the width of the watch case, so it has a surprisingly low profile when worn on the wrist. The surprisingly small lugs assist with this, too, since they’re unlikely to hold over the sting of the wrist.

Regardless, the Engineer bracelet can work with any dimension wrist so long as it stays proportional the watch it’s connected to.

Retailers:

Aviator / Pilot

As its identify suggests, the Aviator watch strap was popularized by the German air pressure throughout World Struggle II. The primary iterations have been extremely lengthy in order to suit straight over the pilots’ flight jackets, and a number of rivets have been added straight under the lugs to forestall the watches from flying off of their wrists. The watches themselves have been additionally outsized (generally upwards of 55mm in diameter) for the sake of readability in intense conditions. Each of this stuff have been drastically contracted after they reached the overall inhabitants, however the primary options remained: the ultimate result’s an austere, black watch face with white Arabic numerals, connected to a leather-based strap with massive rivets positioned under the lugs. Whereas these rivets at the moment are non-functional, they do add an attention-grabbing aesthetic aptitude with an enchanting backstory.

As a consequence of their historical past within the air pressure, Aviator straps work finest on pilot watches, particularly these made by Stowa, IWC, Laco, and Hamilton. The stark distinction between the black dial and brown Aviator strap exudes a very militaristic essence, and the rivets act as a refined element harkening again to the watches’ unique function.

This strap additionally pairs excellently with chronographs, which have been launched to pilots at a later date to assist time flight durations. Both means, the Aviator is a good looking strap that makes for a compelling dialog starter.

Retailers:

Bund

Like Aviator straps, Bund straps have been additionally invented for German pilots in World Struggle II, albeit for a barely completely different purpose. The only largest hazard within the occasion of a aircraft crash is the following fireplace, and something composed primarily of metallic would shortly change into superheated. Watches are at all times in direct contact with the pores and skin, so an ordinary strap would permit the watch to scald the wrist.

Bund straps, then again, are constructed with an additional layer of padding beneath the again of the case, due to this fact stopping it from burning the wearer. This was additionally helpful in excessive altitudes the place the temperature would drop dramatically, because the additional layer of leather-based would prohibit the metallic from freezing to the pores and skin. One remaining use of the Bund strap was its skill to soak up perspiration; early watches weren’t very water-resistant, so sweat may simply enter via the case again and destroy the interior mechanisms of the watch. Servicemen led a really lively way of life, so the Bund strap helped to drastically enhance the lifespan of government-issued watches.

It is very important notice that Bund straps usually are not for everybody – they’re usually fairly heat, which makes them troublesome to put on in the summertime, and they’re typically too massive for small-wristed folks to put on frequently. Nonetheless, they’re a wonderful selection for these bothered with a metallic allergy, since they forestall all contact between the watch and the wearer’s pores and skin. In case your wrist is massive sufficient to assist this strap proportionally, it is best to give it a attempt, particularly in the event you personal a pilot watch or a chronograph! Keep in mind, although: the Bund’s padding ought to hint the define of the watch as carefully as potential.

Retailers:

Shark Mesh

shark mesh watch band

The identify of the Shark Mesh bracelet may instantly conjure photos of the fierce oceanic predator, however the strap itself has virtually no bodily relation to the vicious beast. The well-known title was derived from a preferred promoting marketing campaign launched by Omega for his or her new ground-breaking dive watch, the Ploprof 600. Meant for skilled use, this watch was constructed to face up to prolonged operations at excessive depths.

This watch was one of the rugged and sturdy divers’ watches ever made, and its strap lives as much as the hype. Though it isn’t actually “shark-proof” because the commercials declare, it’s extra sturdy than an ordinary bracelet as a result of lack of pins between hyperlinks. For the reason that total strap is held collectively by intertwined loops, there are drastically fewer break factors. The unfastened and chunky chainmail design gives a versatile and comfortable match to anybody’s wrist, and the simply detachable hyperlinks permits the wearer to take away all extra materials.

Whereas the strap is comparatively heavy, it retains a excessive degree of breathability via the massive gaps between the interwoven hyperlinks.

Probably the most noticeable function of the Shark Mesh strap is its comparatively massive hyperlinks. Most different mesh bracelets are usually tightly woven with small hyperlinks, however the Shark Mesh is the exact opposite. As such, many individuals are likely to view it as probably the most snug choice, because the relaxed nature of the hyperlinks permits for a clean drape across the wrist. I like to recommend pairing this strap with a classic 1970’s diver, however so long as the proportions are proper, you possibly can connect it to absolutely anything!

Retailers:

Milanese

milanese watch band

As their identify implies, Milanese watch straps have been initially developed in Milan, Italy. The Milanese mesh design may be traced all the best way again to the 13th century, the place it was used as a particular sort of chainmail. The manufacturing course of was accomplished solely by hand, and remained an Italian specialty for over 500 years. Famend German watch strap specialists Staib and Vollmer renewed manufacturing of those uncommon straps within the early 1920’s, inflicting a skyrocket in recognition. This demand lasted late into the 60’s, so Milanese straps are a typical look on classic gown watches.

The straps themselves are simply distinguished by their extraordinarily dense and tightly woven mesh development, which makes them a few of the smoothest metallic straps in the marketplace. This does come at a slight price to sturdiness, however these straps are often worn in additional formal environments, so resistance to the weather is much less of a priority. Some individuals additionally could discover that the tightness of the mesh causes a sure diploma of rigidity, which could really feel a bit much less snug than looser weaves.

No matter these minor issues, Milanese straps are a wonderful selection for all-around put on. Though some may view them as considerably vintage, they work simply as effectively with modern watches as they do classic ones. Keep in mind to maintain proportions in thoughts – the extraordinarily skinny hyperlinks may seem disproportionate when worn with a big watch, so I like to recommend maintaining the watch face below 40mm.

Retailers:

Tropic

Tropic straps have been initially developed within the 60’s as a less expensive different to the metallic bracelets used on sport-based Rolex and Tudor watches. Metallic bracelets have been definitely sensible for underwater excursions, however they have been very heavy and costly to interchange; fortunately, rubber straps served as an answer to each of those issues.

The Tropic strap was the primary rubber strap ever launched, and it shortly started to nook the dive watch market. It was simply recognizable by the attribute basket weave sample stamped into the outward-facing facet of the strap, along with the quite a few perforations operating lengthwise from tip to lug. This gave the strap a novel texture along with a copious quantity of breathability, which was surprising out of a strap constructed to be waterproof. Early fashions have been considerably stiff and brittle, however by the 70’s, Tropic straps had been additional improved to retain their supple qualities even after years of use.

Some of the superb options of the Tropic strap was its unimaginable longevity  – despite the fact that it was marketed as simply replicable, many fashions are nonetheless in use as we speak (over 40 years later), they usually really feel and performance similar to after they have been first commissioned. Moreover, they managed to own this sturdiness whereas sustaining a really slim profile, which is uncommon even for contemporary variants.

Tropic straps are likely to work finest on classic divers as a result of their shared historical past, however in addition they work exceptionally effectively with modern timepieces.

Retailers:

Perlon

perlon strap

Crown & Buckle

Like Tropic straps, Perlon straps have been additionally popularized within the 60’s. Perlon straps are simply acknowledged by their tightly woven basket weave sample, which has similarities in look to the floor of a Tropic strap. As an alternative of being a stamped sample, nonetheless, it’s an precise weave composed of thick nylon-esque threads. This attribute offers Perlon straps an impressive three-dimensional texture whereas concurrently offering excessive quantities of breathability.

Some of the distinctive options of the Perlon strap is its infinite resizability – there aren’t any predetermined holes, so the buckle’s prong merely slides via a gap within the weave.

This makes the strap an ideal selection for peculiar wrist sizes, since any circumference may be reached precisely. Perlon can also be very abrasion resistant, so it hardly ever fray from continued use. Lastly, Perlon dries shortly and doesn’t stretch when moist, so it is a wonderful selection for diving when rubber is unavailable or undesirable.

Perlon straps have been invented in Europe, they usually by no means fairly managed to cross into American tradition. Because of this, only a few continental retailers supply these straps, so that you might need to look into worldwide sellers to seek out particular colours and types. Perlon straps peaked in recognition within the 60’s and 70’s, so they have an inclination to look finest on classic divers.

No matter their unique function, they work superbly with all method of watches, from chronographs to decorate watches. Their excessive breathability and sturdiness makes them a summer season favourite, and their low-cost value makes them straightforward to put money into – I extremely advocate choosing up a couple of of them!

Retailers:

Waffle

Premiering on the 6105 Diver within the early 70’s, the Waffle strap is an iconic Seiko invention. This watch is broadly considered the one most essential diver within the firm’s historical past, and was a typical selection for Vietnam servicemen. Whereas the unique army-issued watches failed within the humid jungles, the Seiko 6105’s saved ticking lengthy after the tip of the battle. As veterans returned to the U.S., their watches went with them, they usually shortly rose in recognition amongst civilian circles.

The attribute Waffle strap, clearly named for its distinct texture, adorned a majority of those watches, and was cherished by many. Quite a few small vents ran down the perimeters of the strap, which drastically elevated its breathability. Because it was composed of rubber, it was solely waterproof and simply washer-friendly, and in addition fairly versatile in addition. Sadly, most classic straps at the moment are hardened and brittle, so many lovers have turned to replicas and homages.

Clearly, the Waffle strap appears to be like finest on a classic Seiko, however that’s a reasonably tall order. These watches (and their accompanying straps) are now not in manufacturing, so they’re ludicrously overpriced for any non-collector. Even so, comparatively cheap 1:1 reproductions have been made by a number of retailers, so in the event you’re searching for a historic Seiko expertise, I extremely advocate making an attempt one out.

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Lastly, there are two extra hardly ever seen straps that I’ll shortly gloss over:

Double Ridge

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NASA

This lengthy velcro strap was offered to the Apollo astronauts to put on with their Omega Speedmasters on the surface of their spacesuit.

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