I’m picky about nylon straps, probably to a fault. The number of NATO straps I will actually put on a watch and strap to my wrist is a fraction of what I purchased. For a while, I convinced myself that I’m just not a NATO guy, but I lately realized what has been bugging me about the straps I bought in the past. It wasn’t the design. I had black, Bond stripes and even quirkier designs, so I like to think I had a choice for every mood or occasion. Were they uncomfortable? No, I find NATOs to be one of the most comfortable options where the watch can disappear on my wrist.
So what was the problem? I hated how thin the straps were relative to the watch. NATOs look great on a lot of different types of watches, but they are truly at home on dive watches; however, divers mean thicker cases, and your standard NATO paired with a diver looked and felt like a hockey puck on a bookmark.
The Seiko SKX007 is a perfect example of a watch that I want to wear on a NATO but find myself unhappy every time I do. While I like the look of the stock jubilee bracelet, it releases a cacophony of rattles with even the slightest arm movement, and I can’t stand a noisy bracelet. Its 13mm thickness isn’t particularly wild, especially for a diver, but it’s thick enough that your standard G10 NATO, in my opinion, looks funny trying to support it. I wanted the nylon look and comfort–and more importantly, I was really itching to wear my SKX007 again–but I wanted something more substantial.
Admittedly, I didn’t do a ton of research as to which brand offers the best NATO, although I have tried a couple of retailers. Crown & Buckle is prominent and often highly recommended in the WIS community, so I ordered one of their 22mm Heavy Duty NATO straps in black. Immediately out of the packaging I noticed a thickness I haven’t noticed with some other retailers who promise to offer more “heavy duty” options.
I worried that maybe I went too far. The strap was stiff and threading it between the spring bars and the case wasn’t as easy as I remembered with thinner NATOs. Was this stiffness a sign of impending discomfort? Not at all. On my wrist, it’s just as comfortable as any other NATO; however, the look is different, and it’s improved for two reasons. One, the enhanced thickness is visible in the strap. Second, because there is no extra security strap that would double up the layers of nylon behind the case back, the case sits a tad lower on the wrist than a traditional NATO, which lends a relatively slimmer profile to the SKX007. Combine these two and you will see an SKX007 on NATO on my wrist more often.
A note on the missing extra layer of nylon: without the extra flap, you may worry that the watch would slide down the nylon, but don’t fear because the watch isn’t going anywhere.
Finally, problem solved. So, I wanted to share this recommendation if anyone shared a similar plight. Am I alone in obsessing over the relative proportions of the watch strap to case thickness?
Crown & Buckle HD NATO straps retail for $15 and can be purchased online at their website: crownandbuckle.com