In the world of timepieces and the accessories to go with them, there are a few distinct moments that changed everything. One of these happened in 1973 when Britain formally introduced the world to the NATO watch strap. This rugged and compact strap soon became famous for its durability and even led to special edition Omega NATO straps, that were crafted by the storied watchmaker.
This watch band has been seen on the wrist of characters like James Bond and is a popular sight among military personnel, and collectors alike. Continue reading below and learn a little bit more about this famous band, and what features to look for when selecting the best NATO watch strap for your smartwatch.
• Brief History of the NATO strap
This watch was invented by the British military to combat the problems of their watch bands at the time. Leather was proving to be no match for the destructive heat and grime encountered during the conflicts in the pacific theater of WWII. This led to a need for a more durable, tougher material that would allow the wearer to confidently wield their timepiece into battle.
Fast forward to the late 1970s, and the British unveiled its now infamous watch strap design to its special force's teams. The watch was able to protect the wearer from the metal adornments that made it secure while providing an excellent comfort level. Unlike leather, the nylon the watch is made from has excellent moisture wicking properties that help during situations where moisture is inevitable. Soon the popularity of the NATO watchband spread, and it became a coveted watch accessory for any avid watch wearer.
• How to Pick the Best NATO Strap
o The Strap
There are a few different things to pay attention to when trying to select the perfect NATO strap to pair with your Apple or Android smartwatch. The first aspect is to ensure you’ve found a NATO strap with a genuine nylon strap. The nylon material is what gives this style of strap its sough after strength and moisture wicking abilities. A high-quality NATO strap is almost certainly crafted from nylon.
The second thing you want to inspect when choosing a NATO watch strap is the weaving pattern and the thickness of the material. Your smartwatch was an expensive investment, and you never want to be in fear of losing it. A strap with extra thickness will give the wearer greater peace of mind that the belt is going to securely hold his timepiece no matter how much punishment they put it through. The weave of the strap also indicates durability, as a tight classic pattern gives the material its strength and its ability to thwart attempts to damage its structural integrity by moisture.
o The Buckle
The quality of the buckle on your NATO watch band is an important attribute to think about before deciding on a band. Things to pay attention to are the material the buckle is crafted from, how thick it is, and the finish. First and foremost is the material, or metal, from which the clasp is made. The original has a chrome plated brass buckle that provided some resistance against corrosion but was mainly used for utilitarian purposes. In a modern NATO watch strap, one of the best options to look for is a high quality, surgical grade stainless steel. Stainless steel's high resistance to corrosion and wear make it the perfect addition to the sturdy nylon strap.
In addition to the material it is made from, the buckle should be of reasonable thickness. Thin, flimsy buckle options can lead to failure of the watch band during the heavily physical nature of the tasks this watch was designed to be worn through. Having a high-quality seatbelt weave nylon strap is useless when the clasp is thin and provides a weak point susceptible to failure. It would be quite awful to make the purchase of a sturdy, durable watchband, only to have the clasp break and lose your smartwatch.
o The Color of the Band
The original NATO watchband came in a single-color option, and that was gray. As the design has grown in popularity, there have been several different takes on the best options. Many smartwatch wearers who chose the NATO strap will be naturally drawn to the usual suspects in a color spectrum known as "Tactical." Colors within this group include olive green, desert tan, deep blacks, and of course, charcoal grays.
Another popular choice is the simple, yet elegant pinstripe pattern that was made famous by the OMEGA NATO straps. These stripes come in two variations, usually either an option with a stripe cutting through the center of the watch band or sliding along the edges. Typically, this pinstripe is of a bright color to give a striking contrast to the base color of the watch strap. Examples of this include bright orange on black or vibrant sky blue on a dark blue background. The color of the strap does not affect the overall durability unless you chose a pinstripe pattern, and your primary goal is camouflage. It is hard to go wrong in this department, but the only way to avoid buyer's remorse and find the best NATO watch strap for you is to check out all of the options before you make a purchase.
Buying a NATO watch strap for your smartwatch won't make you James Bond. Nor will it grant you the discipline and tact to become an elite military officer. What it can do is add a timeless style and flair to your smartwatch that will not only look cool but will last for a very long time. In the end, it's really hard to go wrong when you choose to rely on a NATO watchband. No matter what color option you decide on, or where you take it, as long as you look for the characteristics described above, you will ensure you are getting a quality watch band.