Watch Guide: Military Straps

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A new strap or bracelet is a great way to breathe new life into an older watch, make a watch more appropriate for certain attire, or even drastically change the overall look and feel of a watch.  There is a broad range of straps and bracelets out there to choose from, ranging in form and material, with each bringing to the table a different function and style.  Today we’re going to outline a few places to find and purchase military style straps.

Military straps primarily come in two varieties, the original NATO style, based upon the standard watch strap issued by the British Ministry of Defense, and the ZULU style.  There is of course countless variation within each type, based on color, material, hardware and finish.  The most common, and traditional, material for these straps is nylon, though today they can be found in leather as well.  For a more in depth overview of military straps, and how to install them, check out this very informative video from webWatchWorld.  It focuses on NATO straps, thought many of the tips offered also apply to ZULU straps.

As I mentioned, there is countless variation within the military strap genre, and likewise there are a number of retailers offering NATO and ZULU straps of all sizes, colors and materials.  Here’s a list of just a few retailers that, in aggregate, should offer almost every variation of the military strap that you could hope for.

County Comm – County Comm is an online retailer that sells a broad collection of military spec gear, ranging from bags and flashlights to watches and watch straps.  They sell the full line of military style straps by Maratac, the company behind worn&wound’s much beloved Pilot Watch.  In addition to offering the more common NATO and ZULU style military straps, County Comm also sells Maratac’s Mil series, shown in the image to the right.  It offers a more traditional watch strap look on a military spec band.  County Comm’s prices are competitive, with nylon military straps falling below $20 a piece.

Strapcode – Stapcode offers a very broad range of straps of all varieties, including a robust selection of NATO straps.  There are some ZULU straps there, but not nearly as many. Colors range considerably, so if you’re in the market for a more fashionable strap that fits the specific coloring of your watch, this may be a good place to start.  Many of the nylon military straps on Strapcode fall below or just above the $20 price point.

Gnomon Watches – Gnomon Watches is a brick and mortar store in Singapore selling watches from a number of brands including Aristo, Dievas, and Steinhart.  They also have an extensive collection of nylon straps, including a broad array of ZULU style straps.  Their straps all sell for under $20 a piece, but you can pick them up in bulk (3 or more) for a discount.  Also, with any purchase of 4 or 5 straps you get a free spring bar tool, and with any purchase of 6 or more straps you’ll get an additional 10% discount.  Not a bad deal at all.

J. Crew – J. Crew has the most unique straps, as they come in a variety of colors and materials, including nylon, leather, suede and Shell cordovan leather.  Unfortunately, J. Crew straps only come in one size, 18 mm, to match their selection of Timex watches.  Prices range from $15 or $20 for a nylon strap, to $28 for a suede or leather strap.  Oh, and the Shell cordovan model will run you a cool $200.

Crown and Buckle – Crown and Buckle is another online seller with a rather extensive selection of both NATO and ZULU style straps.  What they have that others don’t is a range of calf leather NATO straps.  A leather NATO provides a really interesting look to a watch.  Take a look at Zach’s Bulova on a leather NATO in the picture below.  Quite nice.  Crown and Buckle’s prices are also rather attractive, with their leather pieces posted for $20 and their nylon NATO’s and ZULU’s ranging from $12 to $13.50.

Holben’s – Holben’s sells a range of watch straps, including some leather NATO’s. One additional NATO variety that Holben’s offers that I haven’t seen on other sites is this woven nylon NATO.  They also have a robust selection of other straps, bracelets and hardware.  Their leather NATO’s are a bit more pricey than those from Crown and Buckle at about $25 a piece.

Jurgens –  If you’re in the market for a higher-end leather NATO, Jurgens is one store you should definitely check out.  While they sell a range of watches and watch related gear, their selection of leather NATO’s is truly exceptional.  They offer regular black and brown leather NATO’s, a line of “shark style” leather NATO’s in a variety of colors, and a very nice grey leather NATO made of vintage German air force flight suits from the 60’s.  These straps range from $82 to $119.

Da Luca – Da Luca is another seller of high-end leather Nato straps, and they have quite a collection.  They offer a number of cordovan leather models, as well as two limited edition models in green and blue.  Da Luca also sells a black nylon NATO with two hardware variations, as well as a full range of other watch strap varieties.  Da Luca’s leather NATO’s run from $155 to 175 and their nylon model sells for $35.

So there you have it – a fairly comprehensive list of sources for your next military watch strap purchase.  If any of you end up picking up one of these straps, let us know what you think or comment below.

Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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