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Why Should You own a NATO watch strap?

The NATO watch strap says something about you. And it doesn’t say you’re boring. As watch lovers, we need to take moment to dive into one of the most interesting choices for your watch: the NATO strap.

The NATO watch band?

First things first, technically the NATO is a watch band, not a strap. But they are more commonly called a “NATO watch strap” than a “NATO watch band.” So we’ll concede the point to popular opinion.

NATO straps were created for tactical situations

NATO straps were originally created by the British military around 1973. The British Ministry of Defense wanted a watch strap that would hold onto the watch if a spring bar was broken. They created the classic NATO strap – referred to at that time as the G10 because of the form you had to fill out to get one.

NATO straps feature a unique design that has a double loop behind the watch. If a spring bar pops off or breaks, the double loop continues holding the watch to your wrist. In tactical situations, this is very helpful. Watches were significantly more expensive back then and critical to battlefield plans. A soldier needed to know the time. This is why the NATO strap was created.

And frankly, it’s still a great strap. Here are three reasons why you need a NATO strap today:

1. NATO straps are extremely rugged

Typically made of woven Nylon, NATO straps can easily handle water, mud, dirt, and anything else you throw at them. They don’t cut or break easily. If they do get dirty, just pull them off the watch and throw them into the washing machine. These inexpensive straps can last a lifetime and work with almost any watch.

We make ours of ballistic nylon for even more strength. And we use a thick 1.5mm build of the strap. At Smith & Bradley, we’re very partial to the 22mm spring, so our straps are likewise 22mm. That should be fine for most watches, but might not work on a smaller watch. This combination of ballistic nylon plus a thicker, wider strap makes the watch band indestructible. Perfect, if you own a watch that is also going to last forever.

2. You can be more stylish with a NATO watch strap

One of the best features of a NATO strap is the interchangeability. In less than 30 seconds you can change out one NATO watch strap with another. So if you own a couple that look great with your watch, then you can change them as you’re getting dressed in the morning.

And NATO bands can be used with dressier watches. They tend to look more causal than a metal watch bracelet, but when paired correctly they can still look dressy enough for a suit. The key is making sure the colors on the watch band match well with the outfit you choose.

Because they are created with nylon, you can find a band to fit your style. Our Kryptek NATO watch bands are unique, for example. But we have the basics as well. Choose a few colors and styles, so that you can update your wardrobe daily. It is the easiest way to update the look of your watch quickly.

Stylish choices in NATO straps

3. NATO straps are comfortable and don’t move

These watch bands are designed to hold a watch in place during an actual battle. They eliminate that odd tendency of your watch to move all around your wrist. And despite holding tight to your wrist, they are very comfortable to wear. Sweat or water isn’t a problem (nylon dries fast). So these bands also work great with dive watches.

If your work requires you to be rugged in some way, NATO straps are one of the only watch bands that can be completely trusted. There’s no easy way for someone to pull them off. They don’t break. They can’t be cut easily. And they are impervious to water. Which makes them perfect for tactical situations. And for law enforcement officers or firefighters or rock climbers or …. Well just about anyone who is trying to live an interesting life would benefit from one.

Men's NATO watch strap


So what are you waiting for?

But there is one last critical detail:

How do you wear a NATO watch strap?

You don’t just clip these on your wrist. The NATO strap can be used in several ways, but we recommend the original designed way to wear it:

1 – Remove the smaller band from the longer one. When NATO straps first arrive, they typically have the longer band through the oval on the end of the smaller band. Separate these.

2 – Take the longer strap down through the upper spring bar (near the 12:00) on your watch. Pull it almost all the way to the keeper at the other end. (Keeper should be popped up on the top side).

3 – Run the longer strap up through the lower spring bar (near the 6:00) on your watch. Pull it all the way through until the strap is flat to the back of your watch.

4 – Next, run the long strap through the oval keeper at the end of the shorter strap. All the way. You should now have two pieces of NATO strap flat against the back of your watch (adjust if they don’t flatten).

5 – Put the watch on your wrist and tighten it like you would any other watch.

6 – Run the remaining long strap up through the two keeper loops on your watch. Take any remaining band and bend it back towards your watch then tuck it down into the top keeper. It creates a cool strap area on the outside of your wrist.


That’s it. That’s the way you wear it. And nothing is going to get that watch off your wrist except for you. That’s the real reason you wear a NATO watch band: absolute security.

If you prefer a different way, try our Alternative Way to Wear a NATO Strap. Or shop our NATO watch straps here