Nato “G10” straps – the ultimate watch accessory

March 10, 2018

For people like me, who don’t like metal watch bracelets, generally either go for leather or rubber straps. Leather looks and feels good, but it does not withstand water. Rubber will take a beating, but it’s not very pleasant to look at, nor does it feel very nice during hot and humid weather.

Me, being a daily watch user, but in no way a watch enthusiast, thought these were my only three options. Until recently when I needed (wanted) to get a new watch, and whilst researching my options, I found out about Nato G10 straps.

The Seiko ssc009p1 watch with a nato strap laying on a book

In short, the Nato strap came in to being in the ’70s by the British military, it does in fact not have anything to do with NATO, it’s original name was just plain and simple “G10”. The basic requirements of the strap was to be cheap, functional and probably most important, fail-safe.

Little has changed from the strap in the ’70s to how the strap works now – 50 years later. The cheap and functional is fulfilled by the strap being made in basic nylon, which is a very robust and waterproof fabric. The fail-safety is reached by the strap wrapping around both spring-bars on the watch. So if one of the spring-bars fail, on a normal watch strap, the watch would fall off, but with a Nato strap, the watch will still be held in place – although flapping around awkwardly.

Originally the strap only came in Admiralty Grey at 20mm width, this has of course changed, and now a days you can get it in basically any color, and at any width. As for the pricing, it really depends from where you buy it.

Seiko Flightmaster SSC009P1 Nato strap in snow
Seiko Flightmaster SSC009P1 on a red-black Nato strap

I’ve tried out a couple of sources, locally (sold and branded here in Helsinki), from a retailer here in the Nordics, and from China. The biggest difference, not shockingly, was the price. The local source being 2.5 times more expensive than the ones from a rather large web shop in Sweden, the China alternative was again, about 10 times cheaper than the Swedish web shop. In real numbers it’s 25-30€ vs 10€ vs 1€.

As for the quality, I’d venture to say it’s negligible, I have no proof of it, but I’d guess they’re all made from the same factory in Asia. The biggest difference is probably length, the ones from China are a bit shorter, say a centimeter or so, but otherwise I wouldn’t be able to tell which one is which, except for the branding.

All in all, we are talking about a simple nylon band with a couple of metal loops on it, so the manufacturing expense is probably in the low cents, I can’t see how they can really justify the 25€ price tag for the locally branded one.

The seiko flightmaster ssc009p1 surrounded by nato straps

One of the biggest features with nato straps, besides being very comfortable, is the ease of changing out the strap. With any other strap type (leather, bracelet, etc.) you need to have a spring-bar tool in order to release the spring-bars, but since the Nato strap wraps around the spring-bars, you can basically change out the strap in mere seconds – without any tool.