The dial of the watch would be the first thing you would assume someone notices when it’s adorning your wrist, but it’s the strap that really helps accentuate the beauty of it. The best watchband type can let you easily switch up your own style. Most people are more likely to notice your watch strap than the face of the watch. So, if you were to change your watch strap on the regular, it would appear as if you have an endless supply of watches, even if you actually have only a few.
It is far more inexpensive to buy a watch band than to spend on a new watch. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should give up on your expensive array of watches. It’s just that the watchbands deserve special attention too.
If you are a watch lover, you are probably aware that there are actually a large number of watch strap brands with their own history and signature style. We have made a list with 10 of the most preferred ones. We’re sure you will find at least one, if not more, of these straps just right for the current watch collection you have.
1. NATO Strap
Regardless of whether or not you are a proud owner of the NATO strap, it is impossible that you haven’t seen one. NATO straps have a timeless look to them that has allowed it to be popular for decades. While the modest straps can be considered modern, it doesn't matter which year it is- now or ten years later- the start of the production is closely linked to history.
If we trace the history, it appears NATO strapped originated in the 70s, specifically in 1970. It starts with the British Ministry of Defence Standard (DefSan), when the straps were made for British soldiers. Back then, it wasn’t easy to get a hold of these luxurious straps. One had to fill out the G1098 form, which was shortened to G10 form. The straps were also called the G10 straps due to the name of the form. Once the authorities approved of these forms, the soldiers could get the straps from their respective unit’s supply area. Initially, the straps were made with only nylon. Apart from using only one material, the shades were also limited to grey. The brass buckle was chrome plated.
The unique part of NATO straps are the fact they are manufactured with a single piece. Usually, straps require at least two separate bodies. You have to take out the spring bar that’s glued to the watch to change the straps. As a result, changing the straps takes time. However, in the case of NATO straps, it goes under the spring bars. So, switching it out and in is both easy.
2. Zulu Straps
Sporting the trademark of Maratac, Zulu’s interesting name is in direct contrast with the lack of background. The similarity in appearance gives away the fact that NATO straps were a source of inspiration for these straps. However, there is enough difference to make Zulu appealing in their own way. For one, thicker material, such as leather or Nylon, is used for the straps, which makes the straps more durable. On the other hand, this thickness means the straps might not be the right fit for some of the spring bars of the watches you own. So, before you buy watchband from Zulu, make sure it would fit the watches you currently own.
Another noticeable feature of the Zulu straps is how chunky they are. The buckle and keeper has a very well made, rounded feel to them. However, the watchkeeper is more of an extra feature in case of Zulu straps. You mostly get them in either a 3 or 5 ring configuration. As such, they can’t be called aesthetically appealing.
Both the Natro and Zulu straps have their strengths. The big dimensions of Zulu straps make them better suited for big watches, while NATO straps seem better on small watches due to the thin straps.
Rolex introduced one of the best watchband types in the 1930s. It could be said that the introduction of the Oyster changed the watch industry forever. The classic Oyster’s flaunts a three-piece link arrangement. Among the bracelet models, it is certainly the most in demand. Pretty much every Rolex model sported the Oyster once, which means people associate Rolex with the Oyster watch band.
While it’s history and association with Rolex is a big contributor to its success, dedicated customers assure us all it’s the functionality of the Oyster that makes it the first choice for many. It’s durability is guaranteed due to the wideness of the center bar, allowing the small amounts of links to be strong. The lack of swivel points, while lessening the break points, does make the strap feel a bit stiff on the wrists.
4. President Watch Band
The name of the brand is inspired by the 34th President of the United States, Dwight D.Eisenhower. President Watch Band is considered to be a flashier version of Jubilee and Oyster bracelets. Apparently, this design was conceived by the mind behind Rolex as a token of appreciation towards the former president, who had no qualms about accepting the honour.
As for the appearance, President watch bands appear to be created by mixing the Oyster and Jubilee together. Except, the President watch band has gone through even more refinement as the years passed. Now, they seem to be way more expensive than its predecessor along with a certain luxurious feel to it. Basically, these watch straps are considered accessories for the rich and rich alone. Either crafted with platinum or gold, there is the belief that just one watch strap has 18 karats of gold in them.
Despite having a similar number of links as the Oyster, the straps are heavier with shorter links. As a result, the stiffness present in the wrists in Oyster is absent here.
Jubilee Straps was introduced to the world on the 40th birthday of Rolex in 1945. It was specifically made for the Datejust model from Rolex. Back then, it was only available in single colors such as stainless steel or gold. Over the years, this changed into at least two tones such as a mixture of blue and silver or gold and silver. 76 years after its introduction, the watch straps haven't been through many changes, except for the plethora of color combinations.
While Jubilee bracelets have wide links on the side, it’s the three magnificent links in the middle that make it so remarkable. It shares a similar number of links as to the Oyster and President watch band, but the construction makes it appear the center part more lean.
6. Engineer Bracelet
Created with the express purpose of being heavy, the fame of Engineer bracelets lies in the wide wrist look. A present from the brand Seiko, there are a total of 5 large links, which adds to the width of the watch straps, making it appear dense. What’s more, the cut shape of the link is quite unique. The links are connected so they appear hexagonal, something that is not found in other watch straps.
As the links are heavy, the Engineer bracelets are simply a heavy bunch. So, be prepared for an evening of wrist tiredness if you are wearing one, even if you are the most stylish person in the room. If you have a particularly strong wrist though, you might really love this one.
7. Aviator/Pilot Band
Aviator/Pilot Band owes its popularity to one of the most unfortunate times in history. These watch straps were made popular by the members of German air force at the time of World War II. These bands have a leathery feel to them, which suited pilots in the middle of a war zone. The original version was a bit too long so it would fit nicely in the pilot’s jacket. After some time, the sides of the lugs had rivets added to them so that the watch straps don’t fall off. Now, the rivets are useless. Still, they add to the aesthetic value of the watch.
It’s not only the watch straps that are huge. Even the watches that were supposed to go with these straps were huge. Due to its origin story, the Aviator watch straps still seem to fit pilots today. Brands that design watches for pilots seem to go well with these straps.
8. Tropic Straps
First developed during the 60s, Tropic straps were what you would call an attractive and cost effective alternate option to metal bands. Swimmers and sportmens liked the metal watch bands a lot due to their functionality, as they worked well under water. However, the expensive nature of the watch, combined with how heavy they are, made it hard to find another option. Then, the Tropic straps, which are also known as rubber straps, came into existence, doing away with this problem.
The first rubber straps were indeed from Tropic. These light watch straps could be attached and unattached at will. Despite being waterproof, the straps had a softness and comfort to them. The earliest versions weren’t the most durable, but by the time the 70s rolled around, the straps were quite well done.
9. Perlon Watch Straps
Much like tropic watch straps, Perlon watch straps also found its popularity during the 60s. Nylon is woven into it in a way that makes the straps more durable. While the straps have a three dimensional system, there’s room for breathing.
There are also no pre made holes on the straps unlike a lot of watch straps. This means the watch can be resized quite a bit and would fit a range of wrists. They are also waterproof and resistant to abrasion, ensuring their durability over time.
Owning a Perlon watch strap isn’t easy if you are an American citizen living in America. As they originated in Europe, not many American retailers bother to keep these watch straps. However, there are still enough in the market for you to get your hands on one or two.
10. Waffle Straps
Another invention from Seiko, Waffle Straps might be the most successful watch straps by the brand. Introduced at the start of the 70s, servicemen from Vietnam immediately took a liking to the watch straps. When the men returned from fighting in Vietnam, the watch straps seemed to garner quite a lot of attention from their close ones.
The waterproof watch straps were liked because of how flexible and comfortable they were. For one, you can clean them with ease. For people in the army who have time restrictions, these low maintenance watch straps certainly made things easier with how little attention it required. Unfortunately, these watch straps are no longer available in the market. Seiko discontinued them for good; though you might see some versions of the watch straps on the pre-loved market.
As you can see, you can choose from at least 10 different luxurious best watchband types. Apart from the watch straps that we have listed, there are so many amazing varieties available in the market. You can find at least one in various colors, texture and sizes.
You might be someone who is under the misconception that the shape of your wrist isn’t made for watches. That’s not true at all. What you need to do is try out different watch straps, and we’re sure you will find one that suits the shape of your wrists. Just believe in yourself and you will be able to find watch straps made just for you!