The history of the NATO watch strap

The NATO watch strap has an interesting history to say the least. They’re not just a new fad. 

These highly durable watch straps were initially designed for use by soldiers. The earliest version of what we now call the NATO strap was produced shortly after World War I. This early design was widely used by allied military forces in World War II, though they weren’t actually called NATO straps back then. 

The current NATO name for the straps was derived from the military alliance that was formed between 29 North American and European countries shortly after the end of World War II. This alliance introduced a standard NATO numbering system for all military equipment, including standard issue watch straps.

The DEFSTAN 66-47/2 reference from 1973 outlining the G10 NATO strap specifications.

Official NATO strap specification

Although the NATO watch strap that’s available to everyone today comes in a wide range of stylish colours, sizes and designs,  the original military specification strap came in only one colour (admiralty grey). It had a chrome-plated brass buckle and specific length (28 cm), width (2 cm) and thickness (1.2 mm). An early military NATO watch strap is on permanent display at the Australian War Memorial in the "sinking of the Centaur" section.

Over the years, NATO watch strap designs that reflected different military regimental colours were produced. These regimental designs often had striped colours, which led to the development of the popular range of striped designs that are common in NATO watch straps today.

The original NATO watch strap had a very practical and weatherproof design, making it ideal for use in harsh military conditions. Those characteristics that have been retained in the large range of stylish NATO watch straps that are available today. 

The James Bond connection

NATO watch straps have been worn by the world’s most popular fictional secret agent, James Bond. 

Sean Connery NATO strap

Actor Sean Connery wore one with his Rolex watch when playing the suave Bond character in the Goldfinger film in 1964.

James Bond NATO strap

Pussy Galore, Bond’s private pilot who was played by actress Honor Blackman, also wore a NATO strap on her Rolex watch in the movie.

More recently, actor Daniel Craig wore a NATO strap on his Omega watch when he was playing James Bond in the 2015 film in the spy franchise: Spectre.

Our range of NATO watch straps

At Watch Straps Australia, we have a huge range of men’s and women’s NATO watch straps for you to choose from, featuring a variety of stylish designs and sizes.  There are plenty of leather or nylon design options available to suit most types of watches, no matter how expensive (or cheap) your watch may be.  

NATO watch straps are easy to install and require no special tools. You simply thread the single-piece strap behind your watch face like a belt.

Find the perfect strap to complement your watch online now at Watch Straps Australia! We also offer discounted bundle packs so you can change your strap to create a different look for a different occasion, as well as free shipping on all domestic orders over $50!

Posted on 23 February 2021 by Brad Farleigh

Comments (3)

Bond NATO/Rolex Mismatch

The mismatched NATO / Rolex combo showcasing the bond NATO is fairly well known. The general opinion is that the movie people just weren’t all that watch savvy or interested. Regardless, the two tone NATO (blue/grey) has become a contemporary icon.


NATO strap convert

When I first got into watches I couldn't understand what all the NATO strap fuss was about. So, I bought one. Talk about excellence in design; so simple and just so comfortable with my Seiko SNK809 (don't get me started on my love of Flieger watches...). I have a Casio WSD-F30 ProTrek I imported from overseas and it has a horrible 26mm rubber strap that really gets on my nerves and is just constantly reminding me how sticky it is. I've just ordered one of your 26mm NATO straps and can't wait to fit it.


Watch Straps Australia Response

Thanks Edward, I'm planning on getting a wider range of 26mm NATO's in in the coming months, so hopefully you can add a few more to your collection. Cheers mate, Brad

Bond couldn't afford the right size??

Love how the Bond shot closeup is clearly the wrong sized NATO strap!


Watch Straps Australia Response

Sorry mate I only just saw this comment. The mis-matched size really does take away from the suit/rolex aesthetic!

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