Originally a British military issue watch strap, the NATO band gets its name from the NATO stock number that identifies the type of strap. The original only came in one color called Admiralty Grey, but today it is sold in all colors of the rainbow. Made of woven nylon with stainless steel buckles and strap keepers, the strap is waterproof, adjustable and durable. Putting it on your wristwatch is not as intuitive as it might seem, since you have to weave and fold the strap correctly.
Purchase Your Strap
A number of online venues carry the line but an excellent store is, appropriately, Natostrap.com. Based in Australia, this company makes quality straps in multiple colors. The price is very cheap, only 15 dollars with free shipping, and all of the straps will look great with a military or utilitarian style watch. If you want something more colorful, check out eBay’s large selection. You will not find a larger collection of styles anywhere else and the prices are excellent. Of course, as it is an online auction site, you run the risk of the product not matching the description. Check the feedback for the seller to make sure it will be a legitimate transaction. Be aware that a similar product called the ZULU watchstrap is also on the market and often gets mistaken for the NATO strap. You can tell the difference by the number of bands and loops; NATO has the twin strap design made for watches with solid lugs, or bars, on either end of the watch and will never have 3 loops while ZULU can come with just one strap and up to 5 loops. ZULU straps are also thinner than NATOs. Many people also feel that NATO straps are appropriate for Rolex’s and other military style watches because that is what they were designed for and, more importantly, James Bond wore a NATO strap with his Rolex watch.
Attach the Strap
Once you have strap and watch in hand, remove the original strap from your watch. Take the longer strap of the NATO band and pull it all the way out from underneath the metal loop of the shorter strap, the third loop from the buckle. Make sure not to pull it out from underneath the other two keepers. Thread it beneath the watch face (both the strap and the watch should be facing upwards). You should go over and down through the first lug and then under and up through the second. Pull it all the way through. Then take the end of the long strap and thread it back through the metal loop of the shorter strap, effectively securing that shorter strap to the underside of the watch. You can then put it on your wrist and adjust it to the desired fit. If the strap ends up being too long for your watch and flops over it, simply fold it over and tuck it back into the second keeper.
Once you have the hang of it the process becomes very simple and you have a handsome wristband to accentuate your fabulous watch.