The ultimate guide to the popular Nato style strap
A great alternative to a leather watch strap or metal bracelet is a Nato style strap made from woven nylon. Sometimes referred to as G-10 straps, they are often considered to be one of the most comfortable straps you can wear. You are likely to find single-piece NATO straps on dive watches because they fast drying don’t stretch out when wet.
Nato strap saves the day:
There are many advantages of a Nato style watch strap, including simplicity, ease of changing, low cost, variety of colors, and even watch safety. Safety is the one specific advantage that is built-in to the design of the very first Nato straps: If you see the diagram above, you’ll notice a loop near the buckle – that’s because these straps are designed to help save your watch from a broken spring bar. The strap loops under the case through both spring bars to hopefully prevent losing your watch if it were to get stuck on something. This is especially crucial when it comes to diving since your dive watch will tell you how much time you have left in your oxygen tank. Also, if you’re diving with a Rolex watch… you wouldn’t want to lose a $10,000+ watch under the sea!
What is the difference between Nato vs Zulu straps?
Zulu style straps are similar to Nato style straps but without the extra loop and rings. Zulu style straps only have 3 metal rings instead of 4 or 5. The Zulu type simply slide under the springbars and have a single piece of material against the caseback of the watch. The Nato style straps slide under the springbars the same way, but have an extra piece of material that the remaining part of the strap loops into.
Although there are many different options available for each strap type, Zulu style straps are typically thicker and have heavier-duty rounded rings. Nato style straps tend to have squared lighter-duty buckle and rings.
Difference in hardware:
Whether it’s a single piece Zulu style or an extra loop Nato style strap, there are many different hardware options available depending on the brand. You can get buckles and loops in just about any finish or metal that your watch case is in. The most popular types of strap hardware can be seen in the image below, but the options are endless.
Not just nylon natos:
While traditionally produced in nylon fabric, Nato style straps can be made from all sorts of materials, including canvas, leather, even repurposed denim. Below is an example of a Rolex Deepsea on a leather Nato style strap. This watch was sold in our watch store. The DSSD is a model rarely seen on a Nato style band, but our customer wanted to purchase the head only to get it for a lower price (we sold the bracelet separately).
Here is another example of a leather Nato style strap that was shipped with a Shinola Runwell Chronograph:
Nato lug-width size:
In the technical drawing above, the specs call for 18mm, 20mm, or 22mm. Since then, popular watch sizes have changed dramatically, and so have the sizes of straps. Today, you can find Nato straps in 16mm, 18mm, 20mm, 21mm, 22mm, 24mm, and even 26mm for the wide lugs on your Invicta Reserve. The most common sizes are 18mm, 20mm, 22mm, and 24mm.
Cheap Nato Straps:
Aside from the comfort and functionality, the best part about nato style straps: they are ultra affordable! You can pretty much find most colors, sizes and designs for around 20 bucks or less. Over the years, however, as the strap style grew in popularity so did the prices of some straps. Even costly Nato style straps are going to be cheaper than rubber or croc straps, but don’t be surprised to see high prices for straps that are made in USA or sold by top shelf luxury brands like Omega and Tudor.
Who makes the best quality Nato strap?
There are so many different straps on the market and the answer to this is always subjective. Often, the answer will come down to the brands that sells the most straps. Because of the very nature of the Nato strap design, even lower quality straps last long, so it’s not easy to put all of the different offerings to the test. If a reviewer compares 10 straps from 10 brands, it’s likely that the one on top is the one that sponsored the post. It comes down to your affinity to the brand name, preference of hardware, color offerings, feel of the material, if you feel more secure with sewn or heat-welded straps, etc. With that said, feel free to share your opinions and experience in the comments below.
Examples of watches on Nato straps:
Nato straps are often seen on Fortis, Kobold, Rolex Submariners and many other watches. Check out the gallery below for Nato style straps on various types of watches from affordable and luxury watch brands.
Nato style strap on an Omega Speedmaster.
Omega Bumblebee 15’000 Gauss on a black Nato style strap.
Red and black pinstriped Nato style strap on a Kobold Soarway GMT with matching black PVD hardware.
Orange Nato style strap with black PVD hardware on a Luminox Navy Seal watch.
Vintage Luminox watch with an army green Nato style strap.
Seiko “Pepsi” bezel SKX009 on a blue and red “Pepsi” Nato style strap.
Orange and black pinstripe Nato style strap on a Seiko Solar Chronograph watch.
Black and silver Nato style strap on a Vostok Europe North Pole 1 reverse panda dial chronograph watch.
Tissot Quickster Chronograph with a red, black and white Nato style strap. This strap came stock on the watch from Tissot.
Will your watch look good on a Nato strap?
That is a good question! We put together this gallery of different watches on Nato style straps. All of these watches were in our store at some point. We hope seeing so many different sizes and styles of watches will help you decide if this is the strap type you want to go for. Feel free to post your own wristshot in the comments below!