Ditch the Bracelet: Leather, Rubber, and Nylon (NATO) Watch Straps

Ditch the Bracelet: Leather, Rubber, and Nylon (NATO) Watch Straps

In a market dominated by stainless steel or precious metal sports watches, bracelets have become the default. Buy the watch, size the bracelet, and boom – you’re done. Besides looking good, bracelets have a lot to offer: durability, weight (distribution on the wrist), security, etc. However, there are plenty of great alternatives to the bracelet.  Assuming your watch is non-integrated, you can put it on any number of straps. Today, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the most popular strap materials: leather, rubber, and nylon (NATO). 


Everest leather strap on Tudor Black Bay 58

Depending on the grain, color, and style, leather can take on different personalities. Traditionally, leather straps are thought to be somewhat fancy, primarily appearing on dress watches. This can definitely be true – brown/black leather,  alligator leather, and smooth (glossy) leather come to mind as dressy materials. However, leather can just as easily be casual.  Split-grain (suede) leather straps lean more casual, particularly in colors like gray and blue.  Perforated racing leather is also very casual, taking on a sportier look. In my opinion, everyone should have a good leather strap in their collection. It’s a classic, comfortable, durable material that often looks better the more you wear it. Just don’t get it wet – nice leather isn’t waterproof. If you need a waterproof strap, rubber or nylon will be your best bet.

If you’re looking for a leather strap, particularly for your Rolex, Tudor, or Panerai, Everest has you covered. Our Curved End Leather Straps are tailor fit to specific references: seamlessly hugging the case and lugs. If you don’t have any of those watches, don’t worry – Everest offers  universal leather straps for any watch with 20mm/22mm lug width. Made from high quality Italian leather and a hypoallergenic lining, Everest leather straps are made to look good, feel good, and last a long time.


3 Everest rubber straps

Rubber straps are nothing new;  Rolex and Tudor have offered them since the 1950’s. Traditionally used on dive watches, rubber excels as a strong, lightweight, waterproof strap material (just make sure your watch is waterproof too). Rubber isn’t just practical – assuming you go for a high-quality vulcanized rubber – it’s one of the most comfortable materials for a watch strap. If you like the sporty look, or just wear a sporty watch, rubber is a great everyday option. While rubber should be one of the most comfortable strap materials, some rubber straps lack breathability, as they can suffocate the skin. Everest solved this issue years ago; all of our rubber straps feature airflow channels on the underside, providing exceptional breathability. Like the leather straps previously mentioned, our Curved End Rubber Straps fit specific Rolex, Tudor, and Panerai references. We also offer  universal rubber straps for any watch with 20mm lug width. 

Nylon (NATO Style)

Rolex on nylon watch strap band

Image Source: @rolexdiver on Instagram

First of all, not all nylon straps are NATOs, and not all NATO straps are made of nylon. However, the nylon NATO is a staple among watch enthusiasts: a classic look with rich history. Developed by the British Ministry of Defense in 1973, NATO straps feature an extremely rugged all-in-one construction. The strap slides under your watch’s spring bars, held in place by a short flap on the underside. Because they’re all one piece, NATO straps protect your watch from the very rare case of a faulty springbar. If one breaks, your watch will stay on the strap, potentially saving you a fortune in repairs. This 50 year old strap design still holds up as one of the best. Because they’re made of nylon, NATO straps are waterproof, lightweight, ridiculously strong, and relatively cheap. All of my non-dress watches live 99% of their lives on NATOs. Everest offers a wide variety of nylon straps: both nylon and  single-pass in a number of colors.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, you should wear what you like. In order to know  what you like, you need to try everything you can. Going swimming? Try a rubber strap. Going to a nice dinner? Try leather. Doing anything at all? Try a NATO. Every material has its pros and cons, but you won’t know what you like until you try it.

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