This store requires javascript to be enabled for some features to work correctly.

How to Shorten a NATO Strap

How to Shorten a NATO Strap

One of NATO's best features is that it has extra length compared to other straps, which makes it more adjustable. However, this excess material can be a pain if you want to wear a shorter NATO strap. Learn how to shorten your NATO strap with our expert guide.

Your watch strap should be tight enough that it remains in place, with the watch face on top of your wrist, but loose enough that it it is comfortable to wear. One of NATO's best features is that it has extra length compared to other straps, which makes it more adjustable and comfortable. Although this extra length has been designed to tuck, the excess material can be a pain. Not to fear though: you can adjust your NATO in a few different ways to ensure that your watch strap is the perfect size. 

To shorten a NATO strap, you can:

  1. Punch a new hole.
  2. Cut and heat seal the strap. 
  3. Wear it with a backwards tuck. 
  4. Convert it to a single pass NATO. 

1. Punch a New Hole

To add holes to a watch strap, you should use a pair of watch strap hole punch pliers. These are designed to punch additional and accurate round tang holes into a strap, adapting it for use on smaller wrists.

The downside of hole punch pliers on a NATO is that you can't use them on their nylon straps — they tend to work best on leatherrubber, and similar pliable materials as the material can become frayed otherwise. 

2. Cut and Heat Seal 

If your NATO strap is made from nylon, it can be melted (which means you can cut and heat seal your strap to shorten it). 

a. Mark where you want to cut the strap with a sharpie.

b. Use two coins to sandwich the strap and a clamp to secure it, to ensure you get a straight cut.

c. Once in position, use a sharp blade (or scissors) to shave the extra length off. You can go back over with the blade to tidy up any uneven or loose ends.

d. With the strap still sandwiched in your coin contraption, singe the cut end of your strap with a flame. This melts the material and prevents fraying in the future. You can use a standard lighter or torch lighter for this step. 

3. Backwards Tuck 

The NATO can be worn in either single or double loops. With a single loop, you secure the strap first and then place the watch on your wrist to tighten it. For a double loop, you insert your wrist after both looping and tightening the watch.

Whether you use the single or double loop method for your NATO, you always choose the style of the strap’s tail. 

This is where the backwards tuck comes in; you can fold the excess material backwards and then tuck the remaining tail under one of the keepers for a clean-looking strap that takes care of the excess material. 

4. Convert to a Single Pass NATO

A standard NATO includes a) the main strip of nylon that threads through the lugs and b) a second piece that runs under the watch and accepts the main strip with a keeper. This second strip, known as the under keeper, can be cut off to convert your strap to a single pass NATO. 

Cut the under keeper off, close to where it is sewn into the rest of the strap. Once done, hit the soft fabric end with a lighter to melt the edge and prevent frayed edges.

And voila! Your NATO is shortened. For more watch strap advice and recommendations, check out our blog page.

We are WatchObsession, your favourite watch strap store since 2010. Shop our luxury watcheswatch straps and watch tools and accessories on our website and become #WObsessed


  • Posted by Mathew Pemberthy on

    Thank you for suggesting a tool that would be suitable to punch a new hole in a Nylon Nato. The tool that we have available and that is linked in this post would be suitable for use mainly on a leather Nato so not entirely irrelevant to this post.

  • Posted by Steve B on

    What is the point of your first suggestion ‘1. Punch a new hole’? You suggest a hole punch tool that you happen to sell, only to then immediately point out that it can’t be used on nylon NATO straps! You then fail to give any suggestion as to how to make a new hole in a Nylon strap, such as a flame heated dowel tool to make a suitable heat-sealed hole. What is your point you’re trying to make, or is it to sell useless tools (which you pointed out) for this job?

Leave a comment