NATO straps are increasingly gaining in popularity, whilst often incorrectly called a ‘Daniel Wellington Strap’ - much to the disdain of watch enthusiastic around the world – this recent rise in popularity is likely to be attributed at least in part to Daniel Wellington including A NATO strap with their watches. So, if Daniel Wellington didn’t come up with the idea to make multi-colored nylon watch straps with offset buckles, Who did? Good question, I’m glad you asked.
There is no lack of articles regarding the history of NATO straps on the internet. I should know, I googled them to write this blog post. However, since I needed a topic for my first blog post for GentlemenAF and I think NATO straps are rad AF I decided to provide a concise yet comprehensive history of the NATO strap for you.
Whilst the name may suggest that the strap is specifically designed for NATO forces, this is only in part true. According to an excellent background written by SJX, the NATO strap was originally designed for use in the British Ministry of Defence and was referred to then as a G10 strap due to the form number required to be filled out by soldiers to requisition a new strap. The NATO part of the name come from the reference to the NATO Stock Number which is a reference system used by member states of the NATO alliance to standardise their supply chain systems.
Original MOD Design Specifications for the NATO Strap
The image from the MOD Defence Standards shows the original design specifications for the NATO strap. Note the one-piece buckle and exact measurements. Many modern NATO straps available feature two-piece buckles, these are generally weaker and prone to breaking under pressure as a spring bar holds the buckle in place. According to SJX, ‘The original purpose of having the strap loop under the watch is to ensure the watch does not fall off the wrist, even if one spring bar breaks. Because of the strap construction, the watch will remain secured by a single bar, albeit hanging precariously. With a conventional watch strap, a broken spring bar means a quick trip to the floor for the watch’.
Another design feature of the NATO strap which isn’t listed here is the offset buckle fastening on the side of the wearer's wrist. This may seem strange to state as a design feature to most, but it does have a purpose. Remembering that the straps initial design was for soldiers, this offset buckle design, which kept the buckle to the side of the wearer's wrist to prevent it from catching on their equipment especially at a critical time such as carry out weapons drills.
As you can see in the design set out by the MOD the original design was in ‘Admiralty Grey’. As the popularity of the originally straps increased throughout the British military, the British soldiers began having the straps made featuring their regimental colours, which has led to the multicolour NATO strap design we see today.
Classic Black NATO strap
This blog post only really scratches the surface of the surprising long story that is NATO straps. I will endeavour to uncover more NATO strap truths or future posts.
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