From Watch-Insider.com

Military Time: 10 Watches With NATO Straps

In recent years I’ve taken to “pimping out” my new and old watches, some of them military watches, by replacing their original straps with colorful NATO straps. New releases from recent Baselworld watch fairs indicate that I may have helped start a trend: many new watches now have these military-style cloth straps as original equipment. In this article from my blog, Watch-Insider.com, I showcase 10 of these watches.

I started swapping out original straps for NATO straps a few years ago. At first, I purchased the straps from the Australian website www.natostrap.com. These days, I mostly buy them at MisterChrono, a retailer at 23, Rue Danielle Casanova near Place Vendôme in Paris, or online at the shop’s website, www.misterchrono.com.

I do not want to claim that my affinity for NATO straps influenced some of the product managers of these well-known watch brands, but who knows? In the case of at least one brand, I can claim some direct responsibility for the decision to use this type of strap: Blancpain’s Marc Hayek saw me wearing one in a meeting and decided on the spot that the brand would start using them. (One of those Blancpain watches is shown below.)

Where does the NATO strap come from and where did it get its name? Here’s a little bit of history for you:

The original NATO watch straps 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 directly from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization but rather from the 13-digit 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 a G10. These first NATO straps were made of grey woven nylon, and their buckles 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 cause the watch to be be lost. The great length of the strap made it possible to f it the strap comfortably around a uniform.

Original grey woven nylon NATO strap and plan
Original grey woven nylon NATO strap and plan

 

I don’t know for sure which watch brand was the first one to use them officially, but I assume it was Tudor. The Tudor watches have straps that look very similar to original NATO straps, but they are fixed to the watch in a different way. If you want to change them, you’ll need to take out the spring bars, while with a true NATO strap you just thread the strap through the mounted spring bars. The Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue from Baselworld 2013, shown below, is an example.

Now let’s have a look at 10 watches equipped with original (not replacement) NATO straps.

Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue
Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronographe
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronographe
Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Chrono
Chopard Grand Prix de Monaco Historique Chrono

 

Chanel J12 with crocodile leather NATO strap, including diamond set loops
Chanel J12 with crocodile leather NATO strap, including diamond set loops
Hamilton Pan-Europ - reclining
Hamilton Pan-Europ

 

Hamilton Khaki Pioneer Aluminum
Hamilton Khaki Pioneer Aluminum
Luminox Authorized Essential Gear for Maritime Commandos
Luminox Authorized Essential Gear for Maritime Commandos

 

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 - reclining
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11
Swatch Garosugil
Swatch Garosugil
Sinn Diving watch U1000 B (EZM 6)
Sinn Diving Watch U1000 B (EZM 6)

Have I left out any watches introduced this year or last with a NATO strap? I’m sure I have. Please let me know any of your favorites that are not listed. (To view a video demonstrating how Tudor makes its fabric straps, and to see other examples of the watch models above, check out the original post on Watch-Insider.com.)

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15 Responses to “Military Time: 10 Watches With NATO Straps”
  1. Graeme Haughton

    Hi Alexander, just wanted to let you know about Míleata military watches. Míleata – Irish for Military, make modern military watches with NATO straps amd would be a nice addition to your list.

    Regards
    Graeme

    Reply
  2. Ananda Shrestha

    I agree the original strap that comes with the expensive watch, if replaced with a nato strap would not do it justice! Not at all!

    Reply
  3. Jessica

    Now-a-days NATO strap watches are trending in the market. Great collection and Information!

    Reply
  4. Jam tangan

    I really need the information about nato strap as I sell some watch that use nato strap. This information is very important for me. Thank you for your article.

    Reply
  5. zak montreaux

    NATO/ZULU straps look good on certain ‘tool’ watches. They can add color, function & durability.

    Dress watches are another story. In many ways, they tend to cheapen the look of an expensive Patek-Philippe, Audemars-Piquet or Vasheron-Constantin. If one can afford these kind of watches, why would you put a cheap $12.00-$17.00 nylon strap on one? Better to stick with the overpriced leather or metal band/bracelet that came with the watch. Looks better, speaks volumes.

    Reply
  6. Anthony Alexander

    I’ve just discovered NATO straps and they make a good watch look great. The colors complement and highlite the watch dial. I think they’re the next big thing and for a very modest price, you can revive your watch collection.

    Reply
  7. MATT SPARKES

    I totally agree that brand new premium wristwatches do not always look great on a fabric band of any description. I wear my old Seiko diver on a Bond NATO reminiscent of the famous Thunderball look of a vintage military Rolex on a ‘Regimental’ band. I think that is the true point of the NATO look, a well worn tool watch on a military band, it is utilitarian, not a fashion statement as such. Creating an air of nonchalance about having a great timepiece on a throw away strap.
    It was practical for the military and also indicated ones regiment. I will bet none of the shown watches has fixed bars as per the original military spec, necessitating a one piece strap.
    It is interesting that Bond has returned to this look. Daniel Craig wears one of his many vintage Rolexes on a grey/black NATO (the one often called the Bond, but it isn’t!)
    In the latest teaser poster for Spectre, Bond again is wearing his Omega on what appears to be a grey NATO. What goes around comes around

    Reply
  8. James Havens

    Nice quick article, to the point. I was not a fan of Nato, Zulu, G10 straps and whatever, saw it as a ‘hippie’ fad on expensive watches. Then I purchased my first Maratac Nato and have been in love since. The first watch I saw one on that I really liked was the MAURICE DE MAURIAC CHRONOGRAPH MODERN. Today I wear them on my Tactico TC3.3

    Reply
  9. The cynic in me says that if this trend continues the NATO straps will soon be as expensive as bracelets or leather.
    I really like the Blancpain, but the new Omega Speedmaster Pro X-33 Solar Impulse is absolutely beautiful.

    Reply
  10. Hamilton probably produced commercial civilian watches with military webbing straps before Tudor, with models in the Khaki series some years ago, and Glycine also supplies watches on military webbing straps, including last year’s Combat Stealth and the replica of the 1953 Airman.

    Reply
  11. JeffBD

    Some of those watches aren’t as pretty as their straps! Sub in a proper Brit! Bremont has a lovely NATO-esque strap offered on many models. With the orange stitching in combo with the orange case barrel of the MB2 or new MB3…

    In the Canadian Forces, early 80’s, our straps were wide and fabric like a seatbelt with velco and a velcro flap to cover the face. When your job was to not be seen, you wore that watch face on the inside of your wrist and covered. That flap saved many a plexi crystal, too, as wearing a watch on the inside of your wrist is kinda like tossing your glasses into a blender full of nail files.

    Thanks for the article, though. The Sinn for me: I’ve always wanted to use a chronograph under the crush of 100atm water pressure. Sure I’ll die (quickly)…but my watch will soldier on.

    Reply
  12. Robert J Dawe

    Maurice LaCroix makes a Pontos S Chronograph that ships with two bands a NATO strap and a bracelet. The NATO strap is matched to the colors of the watch and makes a strikingly beautiful effect.

    Reply
  13. Robin Henry

    I’m still not sure whether an inexpensive fabric watchband such as a NATO lessens the perceived value of an expensive wrist watch, although James Bond wore a nylon band on an Omega in one of the 007 films. The Tudor and Blancpain watches shown above look good with the respective nylon bands.

    As for the date, grey NATO-style watch straps were used on our RAAF (Air Force) Jaeger-Le Coultre aircrew watches as early as 1965. I had one on issue and was told we used a fabric band to allow the watch to be worn on the outside of flying suits and jackets and if exposed to fire, a nylon band would either burn off or not get as hot as a metal band, especially worn on the outside of our fire-retardant clothing.

    Very interesting article Alexander, thanks.

    Reply
  14. Although I like these watches the Nylon straps makes them look not worthy of there premium price tag

    Reply
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