In designing the Vaer watch, we tried our best to focus on the features and functionalities beloved by wristwatch enthusiasts. While some of our design features, such as the metal case ring and back-loaded case design, are invisible to the untrained eye, there are other features that clearly define the product’s identity.

One such feature is the interchangeable nylon bands. Colorful, comfortable, and waterproof – they’re a perfect match for our minimal, ocean-going timepiece.

A Functional Favorite

The nylon pass-through strap (often referred to as a NATO) is a unifying symbol for watch lovers around the world.  Whether you’re collecting Seikos or Submariners chances are you own a few nylon straps. Not only do they provide a cool contrast to a steel or leather strap, they’re incredibly functional.  If you own an expensive dive watch (and actually use it in the ocean) the last thing you want is to lose it because of a faulty spring-bar. Even the strongest steel bracelet is only as reliable as the removable spring-bars it’s attached to – if one breaks, your watch is going straight to the ocean floor.

The nylon pass-through strap solves this problem.

Since the band itself forms a full-loop around your wrist, it’s secured independently by each springbar. If one bar fails, the other one will still be there to keep the watch on your wrist.

Military Origins

The origins of this fail-safe design can be traced back over 40 years to the early 1970s when it was issued as an optional accessory by the British Ministry of Defence. Labelled simply as the “Strap, Wrist Watch” it quickly became known as the G10, which was the name of the order form soldiers needed to fill out to get it. It is very commonly referred to as a “NATO Strap”, as a shortened version of “NATO Stocking Number”.

The design of these early military straps is nearly identical to our version. Both are nylon, 20mm in width, and feature a second shorter piece of nylon attached to the buckle. The only key difference is the while the British originals used brass-buckles and keepers our hardware is made of brushed 316L stainless steel. Interestingly, the military straps were also highly customized.  While originally issued only in grey, it wasn’t long before British regiments started customizing the straps to match their regimental colors.

Rise to Popularity

While it took a few more decades for the NATO design to catch on outside military circles, today these the bands can be found on an incredibly wide variety of watches. Many renowned watchmakers such as Bremont and Tudor now sell Nylon bands as an optional accessory with their watches – charging as much $100 USD for a single Nylon strap.

Other brands have taken the opposite approach, producing flimsy colored straps, that imitate the style of NATO, but lack the quality and design specifications to make the product useful for anything more than a fashion accessory.

The Perfect Band

We didn’t invent our band design. Nor are we the only ones selling the style.

However, for the price, our version is one of the very best of its kind on the market.

We selected a very dense Nylon weave that is sturdy, while still being supple enough to be comfortable when worn around the wrist. The band features 13 laser cut holes, spaced 5mm apart and spanning a range between 155mm and 215mm. The end of the band is rounded to a circle, and burnished by heat to not split or fray. Attached to the Nylon band, are four pieces of brushed stainless steel hardware – one buckle and three rectangular loops. The hardware is secured by 1mm machine-stitched nylon threading, made to match the color of the band, and stress tested to withstand up to 350 pounds of direct tension.

All together these numerous design features combine into a pretty damn solid strap. Adding in the ocean functionality, easy interchangeability, and opportunity for customization –  I think its pretty clear why we believe it’s a perfect match for our watch.

A Brief History of NATO Watch Bands