From the British military to the wrists of watch enthusiasts and newbies alike, within the last 50 years, NATO straps have become a staple even in the most expensive timepiece collections. Apple Watches, Rolexes, Cartiers, and Patek Philippes – whether it costs $30 or $3000, the versatility and durability of nylon-based NATO straps allow them to paired well with most designs, and their lower price-point means you pay less for more options.
While NATO straps initially referred to the specific MoD-issued G10 nylon material released in the 1970s, these days, there’s much more variation in the composition of the watch bands you can find on sale. This article takes a quick look at three of the most popular versions (Elastic, Seat Belt, Twill and Ballistic NATO) and the subtle differences that may make a specific type of NATO ideal for your lifestyle.
Already have a NATO strap? Check out VARIO’s detailed guide on how to clean and care for these amazing watch bands! We also have plenty of gorgeous looking graphic NATO strap designs for all occasions!
If you enjoy a more snug fit for your watch bands, Elastic NATO is the way to go. Regular NATO straps do not hold elasticity, but this version weaves elastic rubber webbing tightly together with thick nylon strands. As a result, you have more flexibility when fitting a single strap to several wrist sizes.
Our elastic Natos are perfect for sports oriented enthusiasts as you will always get the perfect fit without the watch recoiling on your wrist when you exercise. If you’re a highly active individual that does a lot of manual, friction-heavy labor or hobbies with your hands, or you work in areas with extreme heat or cold, any natural frays that arise can be fixed by simply holding a small flame to the affected area for no more than a second. This will easily stop and seal the damage. This type of strap is also ideal for persons who have issues finding a comfortable fit with the standard NATO strap sizes.
VARIO has 100% vegan-friendly Elastic Nylon NATO straps on sale. Click here to browse the collection.
SEAT BELT NATO
This type of NATO strap derives its name from both the weave and type of nylon from which it’s made. It’s the same nylon that’s used by companies that create – you guessed it – seat belts! In fact, several Seat Belt NATO retailers source their material directly from seat belt manufacturers.
The softest and silkiest of NATO straps, depending on the seller, your Seat Belt NATO could either be 100% nylon or a mix of nylon and polyester. It also uses smooth strands of nylon to achieve its smoother weave, so fraying may also be an issue with this one after some use and can be fixed with the same flame trick mentioned above. Seat Belt NATO can be layered. A double-layer is typically used for thicker watches, and single-layer for lighter watches to create a streamlined look. At Vario, we prefer single pass as it allows watches to sit closer to the wrist for more comfort and sleekness. These bands are popular with dress watch users and are the perfect companion when you want your Rolex or Seiko to spot a dressy look.
VARIO has 100% vegan-friendly single-layer Seat Belt NATO straps on sale. Click here to browse the collection.
Designed during World War II for ultimate resistance to the harshest conditions, including shrapnel and explosion debris, this is perhaps the most durable type of NATO strap you can buy. Technically the hardware is Zulu styled but the solid hardware makes it very strong and you won't run into the risk of buckles falling out due to a weak spring bar. It’s a favorite amongst survivalists and outdoor enthusiasts, and can comfortably and securely hold larger, heavier watches and accessories like the Clip-On Watch Strap Compass.
Our Ballistic Nato appeals to the dive and military watch owner who wants something light and durable, these are stylish and comfortable enough for every-day wear. It’s a great gift for persons active in nature.
VARIO has 100% vegan-friendly single-layer Ballistic Nylon NATO straps on sale. Click here to browse the collection.
Named for its distinct weave pattern which creates diagonal lines of warp, Twill woven fabrics are not only stronger, but smoother due to the proximity of their threads. Combined with the natural sheen of Nylon, Twill NATO watch straps carry a beautiful shine, and are one of the most elegant variations you can have in your collection. As an added bonus, Twill woven fabrics are also more resistant to dirt and stains, and harder to wrinkle.
Most of our Twill Natos spot a duo colour to give it that beautiful play of light that you don't find in other Natos. If you’re looking for watch bands you can take seamlessly from the office to a casual event or get-together, consider making a Twill NATO strap your next purchase.
VARIO has 100% vegan-friendly single-layer Twill Nylon NATO straps on sale. Click here to browse the collection.
SOMETHING EXTRA: CORDURA
Cordura watch straps are worth a special mention, because they’re a top contender for one of the most heavy-duty, wear-resistant fabrics on the market. Popularized during World War II, the Nylon-based fabric was incorporated into military clothing, gear, and even tires. Now, it’s use has been expanded to outdoor gear, backpacks, and of course, watch straps.
Accumulating minimal wear and tear under any conditions, outdoor enthusiasts will be especially receptive to Cordura straps. Our hardy Cordura® strap is made from densely woven 1000 denier coated nylon fabric which is resistant to abrasion, tears, scuffs, water and stains. They are reinforced with metal rivets to minimise wear and tear at the holes. Casual users will be happy to find that it requires minimal upkeep, and provide years of quality wear with simple cleaning.
We hope you found this article helpful. Have questions or comments? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the full range of Vario's watches and straps, please visit
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