The NATO G10 Watch Strap - Where did it come from?
Whether or not you know exactly what a NATO strap is, you’ve probably seen one.
Over the last few years the trend for these straps has been phenomenal and they are no longer just a Military strap and can be found on just about any watch these days.
The NATO strap is sold as a 'pick and mix' on Daniel Wellington and Timex Weekender watches, Omega sell them for their Seamasters and it is not uncommon to see owners fit NATO straps to their £6,000 Rolex Submariners or £40,000 Patek Philippes. Apple even had a NATO style strap made for their watches and brands such as Tudor, Blancpain, Hamilton and Bremont have been either throwing in a G10 as an accessory to a watch purchase or offering it as a main strap option.
photo credit: @dapperscientist
Some watch enthusiasts may be horrified at the thought of putting a £9.95 strap on an expensive timepiece, but NATO's have grown in popularity as much for their affordability as for their sense of fun, functionality and fashion.
Unlike a few years ago, many people now know what the NATO straps are called (if not why) and the straps are now made and sold all over the world as a watch fashion accessory.
They are an affordable way of updating your watch and the prices almost make them disposable after a few months wear. They can be swapped as often as you wish, depending on how you want your watch to look, which outfit you are choosing that day or the car you are driving!
While the straps have become fairly ubiquitous, their origin can be traced back to a single point in history and it isn't that the NATO troops were issued with them.
The more appropriate name for the “NATO” strap is actually the “G10” . In 1973, “Strap, Wrist Watch” was launched in the British Ministry of Defence Standard (DefStan) 66-15. For soldiers to obtain the strap they had to fill out a G1098 form, or a G10 for short or they could get the strap at their unit’s supply store of the same name.
Though DefStan’s name for the strap was nondescript, its specifications for the @strap Wrist Watch' were specific. MoD-issued G10 straps were
Available only in “Admiralty Grey”
Chrome-plated brass buckle and keepers.
Supplied with a second, shorter piece of nylon strap attached to the buckle.
Since the strap was to be used by the military, it had to be functional and fail-safe. The extra nylon looped onto the top strap with a metal keeper to created a pocket, holding the the case in a limited space on the strap so as long as the strap was passed through properly and snugly on the wrist, the case would stay exactly where it was needed. The bonus feature of a strap that passes behind the watch is there so that in the event that a spring bar breaks or pops out, the case will still be secured by the other spring bar.
Since 1973, the official Military G10 strap has seen only slight modification. The current version has been downsized to 18mm to fit the Cabot military issue watch, it has has stainless steel hardware and British regimental colors with stripes of all colors and combinations are available.
One strap’s stripe pattern has become more famous than all the rest, but to call it a G10 or a NATO strap is actually a misnomer as it was filmed 9 years before the G10 was produced, but when Sean Connery’s Bond famous “Big Crown” Submariner appeared in in Goldfinger, he revealed an interestingly striped nylon strap. Aside from being too narrow and showing the watch's spring bars, the strap was notable because of its navy blue color with red and green stripes. Thus the Bond NATO was created.
Today The NATO strap is not so much associated with the military but as a fashion accessory and there would be many people that own more NATO straps than they do watches. Whatever the case, the trend looks set to continue for now and while they may vary in quality, a good one is a trustworthy piece of equipment with a rich history.