A leather watch strap with a butterfly closure
Four analog wristwatches for men with variants of the widespread metal watch strap made from stainless steel, the two in the middle being of the most common type

A watch strap, watch band, watch bracelet or watch belt is a bracelet that straps a wrist watch onto the wrist.[1] Watch straps may be made of leather, plastic, polyurethane, silicone, rubber, FKM, cloth, or metal, sometimes in combination. It can be regarded as a fashion item, serving both a utilitarian and decorative function. Some metal watch straps may be plated with, or even in rare cases made of, precious metals.

Watch straps may close with a buckle or a folding clasp.[2] Expanding watch straps are designed to expand elastically, often by the use of metal springs in a segmented design, and may be slipped on like a bracelet. Attachment points for the strap to the watch are largely standardized, with a spring bar (a spring-loaded double-ended pin) used to anchor the watch strap to holes in a bracket that is integral to the watch case, allowing worn watch straps to be replaced or swapped with new straps for fashion purposes.

Metal watch straps are typically stainless steel. The most common metal watch strap styles are the folded link, pushpin, and screw-in styles.[3]

Both metal watch cases and watch straps incorporating metal parts can sometimes cause contact dermatitis in susceptible individuals.[4] Special anti-allergy watch straps, like a NATO style watch strap, which shield the skin from exposure to metal parts, are available for people with this type of dermatitis.

Specialist expanding watch straps exist for use with diving watches. The use of wet, or in some cases, dry suits require the strap to expand in order to accommodate the added material, which increases the circumference of the wrist. Many watch straps intended for diving watches have rippled or vented sections near the attachment points on the watch case to facilitate the required flexibility to strap the watch around the bare wrist or around wet or dry suits.

NATO Straps


NATO watch straps, also known as "NATO Straps" or "G10 straps",[5] were developed by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for wartime usage (DefStan 66-47[6]). The colour of the nylon ribbon (20 mm wide) shall be to BS 4800 card number 3, reference 18B25, colour grey. It is a one piece strap slid through the spring bars of the watch case and then slid into the appropriate notch, and then folded back to secure excess strap and prevented from sticking out of the main watch strap portion.[7][8] As the style gained popularity since its introduction in 1973, military personnel began to customize their watch straps, incorporating the colours of their units, creating the colourful regimental stripe patterns NATO straps are now often known for.[9]

The Zulu watch strap is a NATO watch strap variation generally using a thicker weave of fabric and more substantial metal hardware using rounded loops and an oval-shaped buckle and both are typically made of nylon.[10]

Bund straps, Perlon straps, Marine Nationale straps, Zulu straps, and NATO straps go completely around the wrist, including behind the case.[11] Other wrist strap styles allow the back of the watch case to directly contact the skin.[12]

NATO strap trademark controversy


Although what is commonly referred to as the NATO Strap entered the market in the early 1970s, it remains very popular today. However, a company trademarked the word "NATO" in 2010.[13] The trademark owner proceeded to enforce the trademark and force "long-established businesses to comply by changing their product classifications or business names."[14]

Watch strap types



Stainless steel bracelet deployant clasp with divers extension

A folding clasp or deployant clasp or deployant buckle is a device used to close a watch strap.



See also



  1. ^ "Watchstrap".
  2. ^ Army, United States Department of the (1971). Craft Techniques in Occupational Therapy. U.S. Government Printing Office.
  3. ^ "Stainless Steel Bracelet Construction: The Folded Link, Push-Pin, and Screw-In Bracelet Systems".
  4. ^ "Contact dermatitis - Symptoms and causes". Mayo Clinic.
  5. ^ Turner, Anthony; Nye, James; Betts, Jonathan (2022-07-28). A General History of Horology. Oxford University Press. p. 480. ISBN 978-0-19-260936-6.
  6. ^ Defence Standard 66-47, Issue 2, "Strap, Wrist Watch
  7. ^ "Your Watch Needs a NATO Strap". Fortune. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  8. ^ How Did NATO Straps Get Their Name?
  9. ^ The Fascinating and Humble History of the NATO Watch Strap
  10. ^ "a comprehensive guide to NATO straps for watches in 2024"
  11. ^ OctoPod-NATO Strap system
  12. ^ "A Comprehensive Guide to Watch Straps"
  13. ^ "NATO - Trademark Details".
  14. ^ BENEDICTUS, LUKE (January 25, 2023). "Do you wear a genuine NATO strap? Probably not, according to this trademark – and some retailers aren't happy". Time & Tide. Retrieved April 3, 2024.
  15. ^ What is Milanese watch band? A brief history of Mesh watch band