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What is a NATO Strap?

Posted by Nicholas Crusie on

What is a NATO Strap?

Simply put, a NATO strap is a super practical, military designed watch strap that has moved beyond military use due to its rugged durability and sensibility. The NATO strap attaches to each of the watch’s lug bars or spring bars individually for extra security. It is one of the most secure straps on the market. We will delve deep into what a NATO strap is, what it does, and why you should make the NATO strap the next investment in your watch anthology. 

NATO Straps: A Primer 

NATO straps were initially designed for the British Ministry of Defense to withstand wartime wear for the British Special forces. Dubbed the G10, NATO straps were intended as a way for troops to be able to wear watches over their uniforms. Quite famously, Sean Connery wore a nylon NATO strap with his famous white tux in the Bond film Goldfinger in 1963 slingshotting it’s popularity to icon status and establishing the versatility of wear for the strap.

So, let’s dive into four aspects of the NATO strap that enforce it’s one of a kind design, and should convince you to move it to the top of your watch accessories list.

Let’s break it down.

Durability and Security

The number one design component of the NATO strap alone is durability. We’d say the concept hinges on durability. NATO straps are made of paracord strength nylon, and remove the two-strap process of wear, replacing it with a single extra-long strap. 

When you take a look at this classic black Jack Mason NATO strap you can see the extra-long strap and the extra rings. You might be wondering what all that extra strap is for, and don’t worry, we’ll get deeper into that under how to wear a NATO strap.

The fabric of the NATO strap durable in and of itself can handle rough textures like unfinished wood and sharp rocks with ease. It can be exposed to harsh climates and lots of water due to its quick-drying abilities and nylon base. 

Our Jack Mason NATO straps come in a variety of colors and hold up well in very wet environments. The straps do not alter, stretch, or degrade with the continued exposure to wet or dry situations. The design of the strap itself lends that extra durability to the wearer making the NATO strap a worry-free choice when it comes to the rigor or tenacity of life’s more adventurous options. 

This inherent durability adds an extra level of security as well. The NATO strap was designed so that if you lose a spring bar, your watch does not fall right off your wrist to be lost forever. 

A bonus of the NATO strap is that the strap itself can be changed with ease in mere minutes. The strap is a single, long piece of fabric and does not attach directly to the lugs/spring bars and instead is threaded through and under the watch face. 

Practicality and Value

NATO straps aren’t just for affordable watches. The NATO strap was born to complement different watch types, and it’s durability and versatility equally compliments a wide range of leisure and work contexts. 

A NATO strap pays attention to detail and quality over price point. The beauty of a NATO strap is in the versatility of the strap. In the last 50 years, there have been endless available styles and colors, meaning that your strap can essentially match any suit, outfit, or task. 

Like with this beautiful and strong Jack Mason Cork strap, the ease of use and ease of changing out the strap means you could change your watch strap every day to match your tie or your socks in just a few minutes. You could go from cork to classic khaki to bright red from Monday to Wednesday, and it would seem as if you almost had a different watch for each day of the week.

With perhaps the exception of the most traditional workplaces and some formal black-tie events, a NATO strap can fit in practically anywhere while supplying the durability and strength one needs for an active or rugged lifestyle.


Because of their washability and durability, NATO straps are the perfect accent to sport, dive, and field watches. They’re the perfect partner for your watch and for any activity. With the ease of use of the NATO strap, one could effortlessly trade out the strap on an expensive luxury bracelet where your metal links could become scratched by sand, grit, or even rocks if you are a climber.

This versatility lends this strap to being the premier choice for those who live a more active lifestyle. The inherent rugged sensibility of the NATO strap makes for a natural strap choice if your recreational days involve hiking, biking, jogging, sailing, or merely withstanding the heat and physical efforts of a day-to-day working in a warehouse or the construction field. A NATO band was built to secure your watch even amidst the most rigorous of physical activities. 

Unassuming Stylishness

Let’s face it, your watch case may be the star of the show, but your strap makes up 50% of your watch’s look and feel.

The affordability and versatility of the NATO strap make it the perfect accessory for any watch collector. Even a small assortment of differentiating patterned and colored NATO straps will make a small watch collection apparently more extensive. 

There is an endless variety of NATO strap designs available on the market. Swapping out your standard luxury bracelet for a NATO strap is a powerful way to make an expensive timepiece look less obvious. By making the switch, you could fly under the radar with your valuable watch face for a more business casual look or when traveling to crowded parts of the world when you want your watch to be less noticeable. 

Take your watch down to casual Friday in a flash, make it surf-ready for a weekend at Big Sur, or simply change your strap to match your socks. 


How to Wear a NATO Strap

A NATO is a long, two-part strap made up of a single piece of material that passes over the spring bars and under the watch case. Unlike two-piece straps that are hinged onto spring bars between the lugs, NATO straps have a fixed metal buckle, two ring keepers, and a section considered the secondary strap that is connected to the first section. 

One ring keeper is used to hold the tail of the strap in place after fastening. The second ring keeper is attached to the secondary strap section, and this strap is looped through the primary strap after passing it over the first spring bar, under the case, and through the second spring bar. This second strap definitively creates a small, secure space for the watch case to move and slide freely, effectively keeping the watch case in place no matter how much you move your hands and preventing the watch case from yanking out a spring bar when faced with tension from any activity.

The NATO Strap Has It All

The value of a NATO strap is not only in the affordability of the strap itself but also in the strap’s unassuming ability to be durable, secure, while also being versatile and fashionable. There is nothing more unpleasant than losing a gorgeous watch face because your watch strap got hung on your ski pole while exiting the lift, or snagged on a rock face while bouldering in Colorado. 

Protect your investment with ease by merely switching to a NATO band.

With so many choices and so many uses for the NATO strap, there is absolutely no excuse not to have one (or four) in your watch collection. At Jack Mason, we offer a variety of colors, thicknesses, and materials - including nylon or our highly rated cork NATO strap.

Thoughtfully and meticulously designed, our straps pair seamlessly with almost any watch face we carry. Our prices on NATO straps are affordable and diverse, offering the options you need for your busy and active lifestyle without breaking the bank and allowing you the opportunity to invest in several different options to suit your activities and style needs.





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