Watch straps don’t typically get much ink, but this certainly isn’t reflective of their role in the realm of horological appreciation. You can’t look at a watch without looking at the part that’s going to keep it on your wrist, and changing the strap can give the accessory – yes, it is ultimately still an accessory – an entirely different look and feel.
Everyone loves variety, and brands are catching on. Some of them aren’t just rolling out multiple additional bands (like Panerai did with 11 new alligator straps in 2014), but making them remarkably simple to switch at home, tools not required. Stylish women’s models like Bulgari’s Serpenti and Hublot’s colourful Big Bang Pop Art One Click are among the early adopters, but this trend isn’t just for the ladies. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Atelier Reverso customisation programme lets clients choose their Reverso straps, while Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas masculine models come with three bands – metal bracelet, leather strap and rubber strap. All held in place, again, by mechanisms designed for easy fitting and removal.
And they can’t just look good; they have to be comfortable. This is especially true for metal bracelets, as links have to be carefully engineered to rest perfectly on your skin. That doesn’t mean makers of leather straps have it easy. An Hermes watch strap, which is made from the same leather as its bags, goes through a 12-step process. IWC and Roger Dubuis have turned to shoemakers Santoni and Massaro respectively for leather and unique designs. Even the workhorse rubber strap has been taken to the next level – Hublot, for one, has jazzed up its versions by combining rubber with unlikely materials like denim and leather. The possibilities are endless, but here’s a primer on what’s out there.
From basic to iconic, these are the bracelets and straps you need to know about.
The Nato strap made its first appearance in 1973 and was created by the British Ministry of Defence. Those straps were characterised by 20mm wide double nylon straps with spring bars, in a colour called Admiralty Grey, though their popularity led to the adoption of more colours and a slimmer 18mm version. They are often confused with Zulu straps, which differ from Nato ones by having only one long strap made of thicker nylon.
OMEGA SEAMASTER DIVER 300M “COMMANDER’S WATCH”