I know it might seem this way but the world of luxury watches is not totally about the luxury watches. In this blog, we will be taking a stroll down the history lane and find out about the roots of the much loved and revered NATO strap. For those who are wondering what a NATO strap is, there is a high chance that you have seen one. NATO straps are made of textile, usually nylon. They are colourful and funky, and that is why they are so in-demand.
These straps are can personalized as per taste, preference, style of watch of the watch they’ll be attached to, and last but not least, they bring a certain playfulness to luxury watches.
NATO Straps – The Story Behind The Name
Be it a Timex, be it a Rolex, or be it an Audemars Piguet, NATO straps go with everything, and I mean everything. Purists might have an issue with pairing a ultra luxurious Royal Oak with a nylon strap but other than that, these tough old things are gold. What makes things even more interesting is that NATO straps are inherently fun as well as functional. I’m not taking anything away from conventional leather and metallic. They have their own place in the industry and have an integral role to play.
NATO Straps have a great deal of history attached to them. You might wonder that the ‘NATO’ in NATO Straps refers to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, right? Wrong. There is absolutely no connection between the two. The term NATO came into existence as a short form of NATO Stocking Number or NSN.
The technically correct name for the NATO strap is G10 or G1098. You see, in the year 1973, “Strap, Wrist Watch” came into existence in the English Ministry of Defence Standard (DefStan) 66-15. To put it in a more comprehensive way, the British army introduced waving wristwatches for its personnel. In order for soldiers to get a wristwatch and a strap, they had to fill out a particular form, the G1098, commonly referred to as the G10.
The Ministry of Defence issued G1098 straps were made of nylon and were only made in “Admiralty Grey” a colour they might have chosen because of its uniformity, I guess. The strap was 20 mm wide and has a chrome-plated brass buckle.
In addition to that, there was a shorter nylon piece that was attached to the buckle. This was to make the strap fail-safe since it was to be used by the military. The primary part of the nylon strap passed through a keeper that was at the very end of the extra nylon piece. This keeper would go around the timepiece and make a loop. This ultimately created a pocket that limited the distance that the case could eventually move. There is an example present for you right above.
In short, as long as the strap was snugly wrapped on the wrist of the wearer, the watch was going nowhere. A bonus feature to this system of the strap going under the case was that in the event of the spring bar, the tiny bar between the lugs that holds the watch, gets popped off, the case would still be there, until unless the other spring bar also pops out which would be truly unfortunate.
The BOND Effect
Out of all the nylon based straps, one was especially made popular and it was before the British military adopted the idea. It was none other than the legendary late Sir Sean Connery who flaunted the iconic Rolex Submariner Ref. 6538 in the movie ‘Goldfinger’. The strap was considerably narrow and had red and green stripes on a navy blue base. An important thing to note is that the ‘Bond NATO’ was almost nine years ahead of the British Ministry of Defence. Needless to say, the strap was extremely beautiful and gained a lot of attention.
It was different too in the sense that it lacked the under-over combination that would have made the setting fail-safe. Nonetheless, it got people’s attention and set up sort of a platform for the actual NATO strap to be introduced.
Modifications and Evolution
Like many things in life, the G1098 straps changed, and evolved. A major changed came up when English military regiments started donning straps that symbolised the colours of their respected regiments. Throughout the years, our beloved nylon straps have changed in size and shape. Although they have gone through a lot of modifications over the years, they are still pretty much the same.
Once they came into the mainstream, these nylons straps, soon given the moniker NATO straps, became popular because of their tactfulness, utilitarian nature, and because of how cool they look. Today, the NATO strap industry has diversified. There are hundreds and thousands of options with various colour combinations, materials, and price tags.
Should You Buy Them
Hell yes! NATO straps are inexpensive and highly durable. These things score evenly on the aesthetics front as well as on the functionality front. Recently, the NATO trend has been on the rise and watchmakers are making sure that they reap the benefits.
Many watchmakers are offering NATO straps as a free accessory to the primary metallic or leather bracelet while many are offering NATOs as the primary choice for the bracelet. Whatever the case, be sure to try one out for yourself.