Summer Survival Guide

Experiment With NATO Straps

Words by Scott Woolf

NATO watch straps

When the sun is sweltering during the warmest days of the year, we'll do about anything to shed weight and keep cool. And while we're losing layers, we're also adding more color to everything, from brighter and whiter shoes to more floral and fun patterns.

Wardrobe refreshes require a major overhaul, plus a thicker wallet, and it can be easier to find a more affordable accessory to change things up. And now that we're ditching long sleeves (or sleeves altogether) there's no better time to upgrade your watch strap to something fun that is still functional and easy to switch up. Summer is the perfect season for the NATO strap, the quickest upgrade to loop in and out colors based on your mood.

NATO watch straps

While the NATO strap is correctly associated with the military, its namesake isn't tied to the organization whose acronym we recognize today. Originally called the G10, the strap was given to British soldiers who filled out the G10 paperwork to receive the 20mm-wide taupe accessory to take into the field.

True to its original specifications, most standard NATO straps today are still 20mm wide, made of nylon, and are most commonly one single strap that loops through the back of a watch's case. Of course, the classics: khaki, gray and olive, are still appropriate for all seasons (and everyday wear) and a great place to start a collection. But, with an infinite number of colors and patterns, there's no reason to stop with just one, and there's plenty of cinematic inspiration to draw from.

Nearly every film portraying servicemen features historically accurate khaki and green NATO straps as part of the wardrobe. And more famously, 007 himself donned a NATO strap. Sean Connery put his Rolex Submariner on a black, green and red strap in 1964's Goldfinger (to the shock of some Rolex purists). More recently, Daniel Craig's Omega Seamaster featured a gray and black striped strap in Spectre.

For non-spies, the biggest draws for the NATO strap include infinite variety, the interchangeability and how simple the upkeep is. Within seconds, your standard timepiece has a whole new look. A bright pattern on a white-face watch is the perfect summer wrist recipe, and a more timeless color on a dark-dial will never go out of style. And for about $25 you can try both, so sampling a new look has never been easier.

Plus, after enough wears when the sweat has built up, cleaning the strap is as simple as a quick hand wash and air dry, or tossing the strap into the washing machine—preferably with towels so the buckle doesn't snag on anything delicate.

When you're ready to enhance your watch collection start with staples: a Bond-approved vertical stipe, a classic olive or navy, and finally a pop of color—it's summertime, be a risk taker. There's no simpler way to brighten your look and the quick swap is going to a big impact on any summer look.

Strap Picks

The Sydney Strap Co. Corrugated Nylon Strap

Corrugated nylon strap,
$25 / $24 by The Sydney Strap Co.

UTE Watch Co. Navy Nylon Strap

Navy nylon strap,
$30 by UTE Watch Co.

Barton Bands Black and Steel Stripe Strap

Black and steel
stripe strap,
$21.99 by Barton Bands

Milano Straps Recycled Green Strap

Recycled green strap,
$49 by Milano Straps

Crown & Buckle Red, White and Blue Stripe Strap

Red, white
and blue stripe strap,
$10 by Crown & Buckle

Pro Tip

How to change a NATO watch strap

Make sure the watch you’re looking at has enough space between the lugs and case for a single strap. Otherwise, go with the double-strap models.