Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How To Wear NATO Straps

NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a coalition of countries that has agreed to "mutually defend" each other should one of the country member comes under attack/threat.
NATO Straps - Originated from the UK, they were a standard issue and the only reason why they are named as such as these straps has a NATO Stock Number or NSN.
So, Why NATO Straps if you are not even serving in the military?
Military specification items are usually purpose built and prepared to help the servicemen the best possible equipment to help them execute their mission. With the ease of availability and the adoption of even camouflage materials in everyday fashion, it is only natural items such as a simple watch strap will be used by civilians such as myself.
These straps are highly adjustable, light and comfortable. One of the biggest advantage of these straps is the ability to insert (the straps) into clothing material in such way that you can wear your watch over inside uniform sleeves. I do not have images to describe it and lets see if i can explain it in words.
Imagine that your (left) long sleeve shirt has two slit and a flap that can over over the two slit. With a normal metal strap (usually they are joined in a completed circle) it will be impossible to insert the strap into the slit.
If you have a two piece strap, it is possible only if the strap is not too thick that it hinders the watch from going in.
With the NATO Strap, it is thin enough, but yet strong and highly adjustable to be worn on the sleeves' slits. Then you can use the flap to cover the watch so that the watch surface do not reflect any source of light and give your covert position away during critical military operation.
Most dive watches and pilot watches (purpose built, not "fashion" driven) has thick bulky straps that will not make it possible to wear the watch over the diving suit or jump suit. Most of these people will wear gloves as well and that only made it more difficult to wear a standard sized strap over/under them.
These straps are usually made from ballistic nylon. However, this term is loosely used (and looked impressive) as they were purpose build back in WW2 as a "bullet proof" vest or "flak jacket". These material however, will not protect the wearer from real bullets or slugs or knife penetration. They have been replaced with Kevlar and the like.
However, ballistic nylon are now extensively used in luggage, straps and other everyday object as they stand up really well against wear and tear despite their lighter fabric like feel.
My encounter with NATO Straps were by Kelvin Tan, which introduced it to me as a way/alternative to "dress up" my watches. NATO straps was also made popular by James Bond in some of the older movies. So, whatever make Bond looked good, must be able to make Joe like me looked good too. Right?
There is a few variation to these straps and while on holiday in Bangkok about two months ago, i chance upon these straps being sold for a bargain at a military surplus shop downtown. The usually NATO straps are being sold for at least USD15 online and it will be close to RM90 if purchased at retail shops in Kuala Lumpur.
I got mine at less than RM20 or USD7.
The variation i have is known as NATO Zulu straps where it has five metal buckles. The usual NATO straps has three buckles.
Zulu strap

My Seiko5  metal bracelet removed with CRKT M21-12G waiting to be paired with the Zulu  straps
The five buckle system allows for some sort of "length shortening" of the notoriously long (11-inches) straps. It has 13 holes for maximum adjust ability and will fit any average sized watch.
Fitted and looked...complicated.
My Seiko5 (SNK809K) is now 5 years old. I bought it to commemorate my first born. If this watch survives my lifetime, it will be given to my son. Seiko5 comes out with new design and variation of the straps often. It has become some sort of cult collectors' item as well. 

Only reason why i bought this was the dial has 24hours, black and it is difficult to find one with the day/date to be same color as the dial. Black as they say, is evergreen and so is the strap paired with this nice Seiko5.
Here is how you wear the Zulu Strap.
Thread through both the holder pin
Thread through the two buckle
then loop through the upper buckle
Thread through the third buckle for sizing on your wrist, then thorough the last two buckle
Finally, loop the strap into the fourth buckle to manage the excess strap

How it looked like from side profile
 So now, you know how to use the NATO Zulu strap without trying too hard to be a wannabe. You are now just a wannabe. :)
Pairing it with CRKT M21-12G. Do i Bond now?
Here is a photo of the NATO Bond Strap. Credit goes to Kelvin Tan for the wonderful photos. Mine above are taken from my iPhone in bad lights.
With permission from Kelvin Tan no less
I have written a lil about the Seiko 5 in my blog. However, all images are missing. I am trying to retrieve the images to enable the posting to have some live again.


  1. Where to buy this strap again? I need one to replace my swiss army watch strap.

  2. Kam and all - you can try Fossil watch shop to see if they have them but i believe it might be like RM90.

    You can purchase online, just google for NAto Straps and you will find a few retailier in US selling for USD15 each. But the freight will cost as much.

    Else, Bangkok bro!

  3. u can get it from the watch supply shop in selangor building on jalan sultan KL. ard RM40-50 each but quality is not so good.

  4. i got mine from eBay ... 3 ring Nato :)

    [url=]SKX007-mod-1[/url] by [url=]patrickfam[/url], on Flickr

  5. Nice bro! 007 is damn nice. i am centemplating of getting the orange monster.

  6. Orange monster is a good choice too!

  7. or you can go to , I just bought a new strap from their page. They have a wide range of different colours to. mine is navy/pink/navy and looks really nice.