There is no doubt that NATO watch straps are becoming increasingly popular within our watch community. You only have to visit behemoth watch blogs like worn&wound and aBlogtoWatch and you'll see a NATO strap on the latest Omega Seamaster, or one of your fellow watch enthusiasts posting an image on Instagram of their Rolex Submariner equipped with, yep, you guessed it, a NATO. The chart above is really interesting, its displaying the worldwide trend for the search phrase "Nato Strap" taken from Google Trends since 2004. No sign of slowing down... Don't get left behind...
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We think NATO straps are trending due to their versatility and compatibility with varying watch types, and equally as important, their affordability and usability. They can be swapped out with ease depending on your attire, mood or watch selection. For example, we just love our Stowa Marine Automatic on our "Boring Beige" NATO strap, a great example of a classic dress watch that can be dressed down for a more casual look.
The NATO Strap and its Origin
We can date the origin of our beloved NATO watch straps back into the early 20th century, in the years leading up to World War II. You see, NATO Straps are made of ballistic nylon which was developed by the DuPont corporation in preparation for World War II as a material for body armour / military jackets worn by airmen. Ballistic nylon was a synthetic, resilient and thick nylon fabric that was intended to protect the military from case fragments resulting from explosive weaponry. Needless to say, this wasn't awfully effective, and our armed forces are in kevlar or similar these days.
Whilst nylon straps have supposedly been around for 100 years or more (according to some enthusiasts who believe the strap was possibly used to display military insignia and/or rank) we can pinpoint that the terminology "NATO strap" dates back to the early 1970's when the term was used as a shortened version of "NATO Stocking Number" (or NSN) by the British military.