Courtesy of Omega
By Daniel Bentley
July 31, 2017

It’s the height of summer and that stainless steel bracelet is making your wrist feel uncomfortable and sweaty. (The leather band isn’t so lovely, either.) What you need is a stylish solution worn by British spies and watch enthusiasts alike.

You need a NATO strap.

What is a NATO strap?

The NATO strap wasn’t developed by the defense alliance of the same name but rather the British Ministry of Defence. (The NATO name came from its stock number.) The design of the strap is perfect for rugged conditions. It’s a one-piece strap that slides underneath the case so that the skin never touches metal. It’s great on hot days because the nylon wicks moisture away from the skin. It also means the strap will stay on the wrist even if a spring bar pops out.

The real beauty of the NATO is its simplicity. It’s inexpensive (though fancier leather variants exist), infinitely adjustable, available in dozens of colors and patterns, and is extremely comfortable on the wrist.

What’s the James Bond connection?

Whether it’s an Aston Martin, a vodka martini, or a Rolex Submariner—an association with the James Bond franchise makes a product all the more desirable. And how did the most iconic Bond (Sean Connery, don’t @ me) in his most iconic movie (1964’s Goldfinger) wear his Rolex? On a NATO strap, as any self-respecting British naval commander would.

The strap only features in the movie for a split-second but it was enough to cement the diver’s watch/NATO combination as a classic look.

What watch can I wear it with?

The humble NATO doesn’t care about the social standing or bank balance of its owner. It looks just as good on a $40 Timex Weekender as it does on a $5,000 Omega Speedmaster. It even fits perfectly with sportier haute horlogerie pieces like the Patek Phillipe Nautilus.

The author's Seiko "Sea Urchin" with a BluShark NATO strap.

OK, how much and where can I get one?

As with all things watches you can spend as much or little as you like. I’ve tried many of the brands available on Amazon and found BluShark’s Premium Nylon at around $17 to be the best balance of budget and quality. (Skip anything around the $10 mark, the nylon is thin and the buckles are poor quality.)

For those looking for something more special, Omega has launched eight new NATO straps with a handy online tool to match the strap to your timepiece. Theirs start at $180.

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