NATO straps have taken the world by storm. The variety of one-piece and two-piece styles and designs are worn by watch enthusiasts and collectors at all levels and attached to everything from $80 Casios to $8000 Rolexes. Made to withstand the harshest conditions and climates, NATO straps were first issued to the British military for use with their watches. They later went mainstream after being shown in Bond movies where they were worn by James Bond himself.
Now, over half a century later, they’re a popular, affordable, high-quality alternative to rubber, leather, and stainless steel. From sporty to elegant, or trendy to vintage, NATO strap styles are versatile enough to help you pull off any look. Best of all, it doesn’t take a whole lot of money to start a collection.
Have you copped one of our Harris Tweed or Vintage Italian leather watch straps? Check out our other guides (Leather/Harris Tweed) on how to clean and care for them! We also have gorgeous NATO strap designs for all occasions!
PART 1: CARE
One of the highest selling points for NATO straps is how little care they require. Made from Nylon or polyester fabric, they’re breathable, take minimal damage from water and sunlight, and are fairly resistant to wear and tear. Because they are cloth-based, precautions like the avoidance of bleach to maintain color and patterns are a given, although if you’ve chosen a white NATO strap for the occasion, you should have no issue.
Special care should also be taken to avoid the trapping of fine dirt and other materials in the fabric of the watch. This may irritate the skin, or in the case of single-piece NATO straps, become caught between the fabric and the case back, scratching and scraping the material. While regularly cleaning your watch as outlined in the section below should be enough to keep your NATO strap free of unwanted elements, should you spend a day out in a dusty, dirty, or sandy area, it should be cleaned as soon as possible.
Our recommended cleaning time is every 10 to 20 days if you wear your watch daily. Otherwise, you can use your discretion. As with any other type of watch strap, your NATO should also be kept away from damp, moldy areas.
PART 2: CLEANING
Remember how we outlined the durability of NATO? You’ll be happy to know that cleaning your NATO strap is as easy as throwing it in the machine with the rest of your things on a normal cycle! However, this only works if you’re using cold water, as nylon fabric is damaged by too much heat. You should also avoid the dryer, and let it air dry on its own.
Of course, for those times you aren’t using a machine and don’t feel like running one for something so small, our helpful guide below has you covered.
Step 1: Remove the strap. This makes your NATO easier to clean and protects the watch case and internal components from damage.
Step 2: Let it soak. You can skip this step if the watch is not too dirty, but if you need to get rid of grease or stains, soak the strap in cold water with your laundry soap or dishwashing liquid of choice for fifteen minutes before the next step.
Step 3: Scrub the fabric. We recommend using a toothbrush and gentle scrubbing, but in a pinch, your fingers should be enough to work out most of the dirt and buildup.
Step 4: Air-dry. Try to squeeze as much water as you can out of the fabric with your fingers, then place your NATO strap in a cool, dry area for 6 – 8 hours or overnight.
We hope you found this article helpful. Have questions or comments? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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