Luxury Lifestyle

Full Information To The Forms of Watch Straps, Bands & Bracelets

A visible glossary to the opposite half of a watch’s look.

A correct strap is a vital companion to any watch, and switching it out is a straightforward method to experiment with an entire new fashion. A broad and numerous strap assortment can drastically prolong the variety of mixtures accessible to you; to an observer, the band is commonly extra seen than the face of the watch, so a big assortment of straps will make a small assortment of watches seem actually huge.

By their very nature, watch straps are sometimes significantly cheaper than a wholly new watch, so it’s usually less expensive to increase one’s assortment of straps over splurging on one other watch. That’s to not say one shouldn’t personal an assortment of watches – simply be sure you don’t neglect that which connects them to your wrist.

a watch with three different types of watch bands, canvas, leather, and metal

There may be a fully humungous quantity of watch straps accessible to you, and I’ll do my greatest to doc the most effective watch straps right here. Every strap has an interesting historical past, so if certainly one of them jumps out at you, the accompanying textual content will certainly be an fascinating learn. Lastly, be sure you take a look at the lists of obtainable retailers; they need to show you how to discover precisely what you’re searching for, no matter your worth vary. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit additional to get precisely what you need!

With out additional ado, let’s get began!

Revised and expanded Fall 2023. 

What’s the Distinction Between Watch Bands, Watch Straps, and Watch Bracelets?

On the earth of horology, the phrases used to explain the a part of a watch that wraps across the wrist—watch bands, watch straps, and watch bracelets—can appear interchangeable. But, there are refined distinctions that outline every of those phrases.

Watch Bands

Watch bands embody a broad class that features each steel and non-metal attachments. Basically, a watch band will be product of any materials, whether or not it is leather-based, steel, cloth, or rubber. It is a generic time period that always refers back to the total spectrum of wrist attachments.

Watch Straps

Watch straps particularly discuss with non-metal bands produced from supplies like leather-based, nylon, or rubber. These straps provide an off-the-cuff and sometimes customizable attraction, with choices just like the sporty NATO strap or the elegant leather-based strap. They’re favored for his or her consolation and flexibility, permitting wearers to change between completely different appears to be like.

Watch Bracelets

Watch bracelets are a subset of watch bands, crafted completely from steel. Whether or not it is stainless-steel, titanium, or gold, watch bracelets present a classy and sturdy possibility. Designs just like the Oyster and Jubilee are traditional examples of steel bracelets which have change into synonymous with luxurious and magnificence.

The Mixing of Phrases

Whereas these distinctions exist, it’s normal to seek out these phrases used interchangeably, particularly in informal dialog or on-line retail. The nuances are sometimes extra acknowledged by watch lovers and collectors who recognize the refined variations in materials and design.

Ultimately, whether or not it is a band, strap, or bracelet, the selection usually comes down to private fashion, consolation, and the event for which the watch is worn. Understanding these phrases provides a layer of perception for these trying to discover the varied world of watch equipment, permitting for a extra knowledgeable and tailor-made choice.

Easy methods to Measure a Watch Band

Watch bands are bought in sizes measured in millimeters based mostly on the inside width of the watch lugs. In case you’r fortunate, the scale could also be printed on the again of the present watch strap.

To measure, use a metric ruler or a free printable template like this one to seek out the space between the lugs of the watch case or the spring bar finish of the present strap. Don’t embrace the spring bar within the measurement. As a refresher, there are 10 millimeters in a centimeter.

The Evolution of Watch Straps: A Timeline

The journey of watch straps is an interesting story, interwoven with historical past, vogue, performance, and innovation. This is a glimpse into the important thing milestones that formed the world of watch straps:

  • Straps within the Late 1800s: Within the rugged terrains and disciplined routines of army life, troopers started sporting pocket watches on their wrists with leather-based straps often called “trench watches”. A sensible resolution that marked the standard beginnings of a pattern.
  • Girls’s Trend within the Early 1900s: Watches transcended mere timekeeping as ladies began treating wristwatches like jewellery, attaching them with ornate steel chains and bracelets. A fusion of magnificence and performance was born.
  • Wristwatches Grow to be Modern: The modern wave reached the shores of the USA, and in 1912, The New York Occasions reported the burgeoning pattern of wristwatches amongst working ladies and leisurely socialites alike.
  • World Conflict I Affect: The trenches of WWI additional propelled the pattern, as troopers relied on wristwatches, changing delicate chains with rugged leather-based straps, turning a vogue assertion into a logo of utility and resilience.
  • Luxurious Wristwatches: From troopers to celebrities, wristwatches developed with initially produced leather-based straps, however quickly steel bracelets just like the Oyster, President, and Jubilee by Rolex turned iconic, synonymous with luxurious and status.
  • Informal and Sturdy Choices: As instances modified, so did the straps. Rubber straps and nylon NATO straps have been launched for particular features, additionally providing informal and sturdy choices for on a regular basis put on.
  • Altering Straps: A pattern emerged, altering straps turned greater than a necessity; it turned a method to improve look, performance, and even breathe new life into previous timepieces.
  • Trendy Watch Customization: As we speak, altering the strap is a straightforward method to replace a watch’s look. Whether or not a DIY residence adjustment with spring bar connections or skilled help for built-in steel bands, the chances are as diversified because the straps themselves.

This historic panorama units the stage for understanding the multitude of strap choices accessible in the present day, from the traditional NATO to the avant-garde Milanese. The watch strap, as soon as a mere sensible accent, has change into a canvas for fashion, identification, and a mirrored image of the instances.

Watch Strap Varieties

Desk of Contents Click on on every to leap to its part

NATO Strap

Initially developed for British Military troopers within the Seventies, the NATO strap initially debuted beneath the identify “G10”, a title taken from the shape for requisition. Though related kinds will be traced again to World Conflict II, this was the primary look of the strap beneath its modern title.

It rapidly grew in reputation all through the army, and over time, most of the people regularly started to understand the strap for its quite a few options and talents. When the Chilly Conflict ended, G10 straps have been bought in army surplus outlets across the nation, they usually have been all branded with a novel NATO Surplus Quantity. Surplus shops bought out rapidly, however watch strap retailers sprung as much as make the most of the surge in reputation. The veritable storm of NATO straps by no means fairly ended, and they’re positive to stay standard for many years to return.

Probably the most notable characteristic of a NATO strap is its single-piece building; most different straps are composed of two separate items, and might solely be utilized by eradicating each of the spring bars that connect to the watch. Switching out straps is generally a time consuming course of, however NATO straps are merely woven beneath the spring bars, to allow them to be eliminated or utilized in a matter of seconds.

Lastly, the addition of a watch keeper strap ensures that the watch case will stay firmly in your wrist even when one of many spring bars snaps. James Bond has famously worn NATO straps throughout movies and actors. All of those traits make NATO straps a superb alternative for almost any state of affairs, and their low worth is a boon to these on a funds.


One Piece Slip-Via & Zulu

Timex Slip Thru Strap
Timex Slip Via Strap

Trademarked by Maratac, Zulu straps have surprisingly little background for such an fascinating identify. Though clearly impressed by NATO straps, there are a number of minor variations that separate the 2. Firstly, they’re composed of thicker supplies, be it nylon or leather-based. This barely will increase their power and sturdiness, however in addition they won’t match between the spring bars of some watches. Secondly, Zulu straps have bigger, extra rounded {hardware} to accommodate their elevated girth.

In distinction, NATO straps have small, squared-off buckles and rings that higher swimsuit its lowered quantity.  Lastly, the watch keeper strap is an optionally available inclusion on Zulu watch bands, so they’re accessible in each 3- and 5-ring configurations. Both approach, there may be virtually no aesthetic influence, so simply go together with no matter you discover to be essentially the most snug.

Thinner straps extra akin to a NATO however with out the keeper strap are additionally generally discovered labeled as one piece or slip-thru, such because the Timex within the picture above.

What is the distinction between a NATO strap and a Zulu strap?

differences between nato strap and zulu strap

The widely bigger dimensions Zulu straps make them particularly good for giant watches, for the reason that face is extra similar to the {hardware} by way of dimension. Conversely, NATO straps are glorious for small watches; the thinner materials is extra prone to match via the spring bars, they usually have a extra proportionate look. Zulu straps additionally take a bit longer to interrupt in, however on the similar time, they’ll most definitely last more than a NATO.

Ultimately, it comes down to private choice – some individuals can’t deal with the additional bulk a Zulu offers, however others discover NATO straps to be too flimsy. I like to recommend selecting up certainly one of every kind and deciding which you like in-person!



Rally watch strap

The Watch Discussion board

Impressed by old-fashioned racing gloves, Rally straps will be simply acknowledged by the three or extra giant perforations punched out under the lugs. Automotive racing is primarily a check of velocity, and weight performs instantly into the utmost achievable velocity – as such, many early race automobiles have been constructed of components with holes drilled via them. This decreased the general weight, so nearly every part product of steel was perforated to some extent. To stay aesthetically constant, driving gloves (and later, rally straps) have been perforated, too.

Some would possibly argue that the perforations existed primarily for air flow and breathability, but it surely’s tough to inform the true motive. Race automobiles are notoriously heat, and perforations helped to cut back each warmth and weight, so it might have been both one!

No matter their origin, Rally straps are an amazing alternative for summer time put on. Even when it wasn’t the unique intention, the perforations do considerably improve air flow, which will be helpful in the summertime warmth. Moreover, there’s no more sensible choice of strap to pair with a classic chronograph, since they have been steadily used to time races. If the fashion or historical past of the Rally strap appeals to you, I extremely suggest selecting one up.



Oyster watch strap

Launched by Rolex within the 1930’s, the Oyster bracelet is an absolute traditional in each sense of the phrase. The Oyster is characterised by its lengthy and thick three-piece hyperlink design, and is by far the most well-liked bracelet mannequin accessible. It has premiered on almost each Rolex mannequin up to now, and has gained a large following because of this.

Whereas its storied historical past is one motive for its success, many individuals swear by it for its sheer performance. The huge heart bar makes every hyperlink robust and fewer vulnerable to stretching, so the bracelet is exceedingly sturdy. Moreover, the comparatively small variety of hyperlinks reduces the variety of potential break factors. This does come at a price, nonetheless; the lowered variety of swivel factors makes the strap really feel a bit stiff compared to different bracelets.

Other than this minor downside, the Oyster bracelet is a superb alternative for almost any watch. The hefty hyperlinks are sometimes extra proportionate on a big watch, but it surely appears to be like nice on a smaller one, too. The Oyster has an unlimited and fascinating historical past, and it’s not going wherever anytime quickly. In case you’re thinking about experimenting with bracelets, this can be a nice first step!



President watch strap
Alpha Watch

Initially worn on the Rolex Day-Date in 1956, the President bracelet acquired its identify from its shut affiliation with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Because the story goes, Rolex supplied Mr. Eisenhower the corporate’s 150,000th licensed chronometer as a token of respect, which he gladly accepted. The relative width of every hyperlink piece is much like that of the Oyster, however there’s a drastic distinction within the variety of complete hyperlinks. The President bracelet is markedly denser than the Oyster, so every hyperlink is far shorter as compared.

This eliminates the issue of stiffness, but it surely does current a possible downside by way of sturdiness. The rise in complete hyperlinks additionally results in a direct improve in possible break factors, however this shouldn’t be a significant concern. You would possibly discover a small quantity of stretching after intensive put on, however this relies fully on the standard of the strap, not its hyperlink building.

The President bracelet is significantly extra formal than the Oyster as a result of its compact hyperlinks. This additionally will increase the strap’s versatility, since it may be dressed up and down extra simply. Because of this, it is a wonderful alternative when versatility is a major concern. It sometimes works greatest with small- to medium-sized watches, however this comes down to private choice.



jubilee watch band

The Jubilee bracelet was first launched in 1945 for Rolex’s 40th anniversary – it premiered on the Datejust, certainly one of Rolex’s most famous gown watches. Although it was at first solely accessible in gold, metal and two-tone variations have been launched quickly after.  The Jubilee is characterised by three slim, extremely polished hyperlinks located between the thick, matte end facet hyperlinks. The overall variety of hyperlinks is an identical to that of the President bracelet, however the central portion tends to seem narrower as a result of its triple-wide building.

When positioned on a watch, the Jubilee attracts consideration to the middle of the watch face, minimizing the footprint on the wrist. The 2-tone variations exacerbate this impact, particularly when the central hyperlinks are a unique colour than the watch case. As such, a Jubilee bracelet (be it of mono- or duo-tone building) is a wonderful alternative for giant and small watches alike, because it brings out the most effective qualities in each.

The one true downside with the Jubilee is its propensity in the direction of stretching over lengthy intervals of time. Identical to the President, the Jubilee’s small hyperlinks cut back its structural integrity. After some time, the pins holding every hyperlink collectively are likely to increase and loosen, regularly extending previous the wearer’s true wrist dimension. Fortunately, trendy building capabilities have mounted most of the structural issues, so the marginally decreased sturdiness is just seen on classic fashions. Until you set it via some severe abuse, you must by no means have to fret a few Jubilee strap sporting out.



Designed to be extraordinarily chunky, Engineer bracelets have a notoriously giant wrist presence. Believed to have been created by Seiko, the Engineer is an ideal match for hefty dive watches as a result of its proportionally sized hyperlinks. Despite the fact that these hyperlinks are fairly giant, they’re stacked to a width of 5 complete hyperlinks, so they seem fairly visually dense. The hyperlinks themselves are sometimes reduce in a pseudo-hexagonal sample, which makes them angular in a approach that few different bracelets can match.

The sheer dimension of the Engineer bracelet additionally causes it to be exceedingly heavy and thick, so that you would possibly expertise a little bit of wrist fatigue whenever you first begin sporting it. In fact, the Engineer does make up for its unwieldy quantity with its unimaginable sturdiness, so it’s a superb alternative for a beater watch.

Whereas its cumbersome look would possibly at first steer small-wristed people away, one should think about that proportions are extra essential than bodily dimensions. As acknowledged beforehand, Engineer bracelets have an plain wrist presence, however this makes them good to pair with giant divers just like the Seiko Monster. The bracelet itself matches the width of the watch case, so it has a surprisingly low profile when worn on the wrist. The surprisingly small lugs assist with this, too, since they’re unlikely to hold over the sting of the wrist.

Regardless, the Engineer bracelet can work with any dimension wrist so long as it stays proportional the watch it’s connected to.


Aviator / Pilot

aviator watch strap
Watch Speak

As its identify suggests, the Aviator watch strap was popularized by the German air drive throughout World Conflict II. The primary iterations have been extremely lengthy in order to suit instantly over the pilots’ flight jackets, and a number of rivets have been added instantly under the lugs to stop the watches from flying off of their wrists. The watches themselves have been additionally outsized (typically upwards of 55mm in diameter) for the sake of readability in intense conditions. Each of these things have been drastically shriveled after they reached the overall inhabitants, however the primary options remained: the ultimate result’s an austere, black watch face with white Arabic numerals, connected to a leather-based strap with giant rivets situated under the lugs. Whereas these rivets are actually non-functional, they do add an fascinating aesthetic aptitude with an interesting backstory.

Resulting from their historical past within the air drive, Aviator straps work greatest on pilot watches, particularly these made by Stowa, IWC, Laco, and Hamilton. The stark distinction between the black dial and brown Aviator strap exudes a very militaristic essence, and the rivets act as a refined element harkening again to the watches’ authentic objective.

This strap additionally pairs excellently with chronographs, which have been launched to pilots at a later date to assist time flight durations. Both approach, the Aviator is a wonderful strap that makes for a compelling dialog starter.



Bund watch strap

Like Aviator straps, Bund straps have been additionally invented for German pilots in World Conflict II, albeit for a barely completely different motive. The one largest hazard within the occasion of a aircraft crash is the following hearth, and something composed primarily of steel would rapidly change into superheated. Watches are all the time in direct contact with the pores and skin, so an ordinary strap would enable the watch to scald the wrist.

Bund straps, alternatively, are constructed with an additional layer of padding beneath the again of the case, subsequently stopping it from burning the wearer. This was additionally helpful in excessive altitudes the place the temperature would drop dramatically, for the reason that additional layer of leather-based would prohibit the steel from freezing to the pores and skin. One closing use of the Bund strap was its capability to soak up perspiration; early watches weren’t very waterproof, so sweat might simply enter via the case again and destroy the interior mechanisms of the watch. Servicemen led a really energetic life-style, so the Bund strap helped to drastically enhance the lifespan of government-issued watches.

You will need to word that Bund straps usually are not for everybody – they’re sometimes fairly heat, which makes them tough to put on in the summertime, and they’re usually too giant for small-wristed people to put on frequently. Nonetheless, they’re a superb alternative for these stricken with a steel allergy, since they forestall all contact between the watch and the wearer’s pores and skin. In case your wrist is giant sufficient to help this strap proportionally, you must give it a strive, particularly for those who personal a pilot watch or a chronograph! Keep in mind, although: the Bund’s padding ought to hint the define of the watch as intently as potential.


Shark Mesh

shark mesh watch band

The identify of the Shark Mesh bracelet would possibly instantly conjure pictures of the fierce oceanic predator, however the strap itself has virtually no bodily relation to the vicious beast. The well-known title was derived from a preferred promoting marketing campaign launched by Omega for his or her new ground-breaking dive watch, the Ploprof 600. Supposed for skilled use, this watch was constructed to resist prolonged operations at excessive depths.

This watch was one of the rugged and sturdy divers’ watches ever made, and its strap lives as much as the hype. Though it’s not actually “shark-proof” because the ads declare, it’s extra sturdy than an ordinary bracelet because of the lack of pins between hyperlinks. Because the total strap is held collectively by intertwined loops, there are drastically fewer break factors. The unfastened and chunky chainmail design offers a versatile and comfortable match to anybody’s wrist, and the simply detachable hyperlinks permits the wearer to take away all extra materials.

Whereas the strap is comparatively heavy, it retains a excessive stage of breathability via the massive gaps between the interwoven hyperlinks.

Probably the most noticeable characteristic of the Shark Mesh strap is its comparatively giant hyperlinks. Most different mesh bracelets are usually tightly woven with small hyperlinks, however the Shark Mesh is the exact opposite. As such, many individuals are likely to view it as essentially the most snug possibility, for the reason that relaxed nature of the hyperlinks permits for a clean drape across the wrist. I like to recommend pairing this strap with a classic 1970’s diver, however so long as the proportions are proper, you’ll be able to connect it to absolutely anything!



milanese watch band

As their identify implies, Milanese watch straps have been initially developed in Milan, Italy. The Milanese mesh design will be traced all the way in which again to the 13th century, the place it was used as a particular sort of chainmail. The manufacturing course of was accomplished fully by hand, and remained an Italian specialty for over 500 years. Famend German watch strap specialists Staib and Vollmer renewed manufacturing of those uncommon straps within the early 1920’s, inflicting a skyrocket in reputation. This demand lasted late into the 60’s, so Milanese straps are a typical look on classic gown watches.

The straps themselves are simply distinguished by their extraordinarily dense and tightly woven mesh building, which makes them a few of the smoothest steel straps available on the market. This does come at a slight price to sturdiness, however these straps are steadily worn in additional formal environments, so resistance to the weather is much less of a priority. Some individuals additionally could discover that the tightness of the mesh causes a sure diploma of rigidity, which could really feel a bit much less snug than looser weaves.

No matter these minor issues, Milanese straps are a superb alternative for all-around put on. Though some would possibly view them as considerably vintage, they work simply as effectively with modern watches as they do classic ones. Keep in mind to maintain proportions in thoughts – the extraordinarily skinny hyperlinks would possibly seem disproportionate when worn with a big watch, so I like to recommend preserving the watch face beneath 40mm.



Tropic watch strap

Tropic straps have been initially developed within the 60’s as a less expensive various to the steel bracelets used on sport-based Rolex and Tudor watches. Metallic bracelets have been definitely sensible for underwater excursions, however they have been very heavy and costly to switch; fortunately, rubber straps served as an answer to each of those issues.

The Tropic strap was the primary rubber strap ever launched, and it rapidly started to nook the dive watch market. It was simply recognizable by the attribute basket weave sample stamped into the outward-facing facet of the strap, along with the quite a few perforations operating lengthwise from tip to lug. This gave the strap a novel texture along with a copious quantity of breathability, which was sudden out of a strap constructed to be waterproof. Early fashions have been considerably stiff and brittle, however by the 70’s, Tropic straps had been additional improved to retain their supple qualities even after years of use.

Some of the superb options of the Tropic strap was its unimaginable longevity  – despite the fact that it was marketed as simply replicable, many fashions are nonetheless in use in the present day (over 40 years later), they usually really feel and performance identical to after they have been first commissioned. Moreover, they managed to own this sturdiness whereas sustaining a really slim profile, which is uncommon even for contemporary variants.

Tropic straps are likely to work greatest on classic divers as a result of their shared historical past, however in addition they work exceptionally effectively with modern timepieces.



Like Tropic straps, Perlon straps have been additionally popularized within the 60’s. Perlon straps are simply acknowledged by their tightly woven basket weave sample, which has similarities in look to the floor of a Tropic strap. As a substitute of being a stamped sample, nonetheless, it’s an precise weave composed of thick nylon-esque threads. This attribute provides Perlon straps a powerful three-dimensional texture whereas concurrently offering excessive quantities of breathability.

Some of the distinctive options of the Perlon strap is its infinite resizability – there aren’t any predetermined holes, so the buckle’s prong merely slides via a gap within the weave.

This makes the strap an ideal alternative for peculiar wrist sizes, since any circumference will be reached precisely. Perlon can also be very abrasion resistant, so it not often fray from continued use. Lastly, Perlon dries rapidly and doesn’t stretch when moist, so it is a wonderful alternative for diving when rubber is unavailable or undesirable.

Perlon straps have been invented in Europe, they usually by no means fairly managed to cross into American tradition. In consequence, only a few continental retailers provide these straps, so that you may need to look into worldwide sellers to seek out particular colours and kinds. Perlon straps peaked in reputation within the 60’s and 70’s, so they have a tendency to look greatest on classic divers.

No matter their authentic objective, they work superbly with all method of watches, from chronographs to decorate watches. Their excessive breathability and sturdiness makes them a summer time favourite, and their low cost worth makes them simple to put money into – I extremely suggest selecting up a number of of them!



waffle watch strap
Uncle Seiko

Premiering on the 6105 Diver within the early 70’s, the Waffle strap is an iconic Seiko invention. This watch is extensively thought to be the one most essential diver within the firm’s historical past, and was a typical alternative for Vietnam servicemen. Whereas the unique army-issued watches failed within the humid jungles, the Seiko 6105’s stored ticking lengthy after the top of the warfare. As veterans returned to the U.S., their watches went with them, they usually rapidly rose in reputation amongst civilian circles.

The attribute Waffle strap, clearly named for its distinct texture, adorned a majority of those watches, and was liked by many. Quite a few small vents ran down the perimeters of the strap, which drastically elevated its breathability. Because it was composed of rubber, it was fully waterproof and simply washable, and in addition fairly versatile besides. Sadly, most classic straps are actually hardened and brittle, so many lovers have turned to replicas and homages.

Clearly, the Waffle strap appears to be like greatest on a classic Seiko, however that’s a fairly tall order. These watches (and their accompanying straps) are not in manufacturing, so they’re ludicrously overpriced for any non-collector. Even so, comparatively cheap 1:1 reproductions have been made by a number of retailers, so for those who’re searching for a historic Seiko expertise, I extremely suggest attempting one out.


Lastly, there are two extra not often seen straps that I’ll rapidly gloss over:

Double Ridge

double ridge watch strap



Nasa strap on a watch next to a photo of an astronaut on the moon
The Different (Inexpensive) Moon Watch

This lengthy velcro strap was supplied to the Apollo astronauts to put on with their Omega Speedmasters on the skin of their spacesuit.


Learn subsequent:

Supply hyperlink

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button