The NATO strap was introduced in 1973 by the British Ministry of Defense. Originally, the strap was called G10, because of the G1098, or G10 for short, form British army members had to fill in to get one. The reason it’s called “NATO” is because the strap has a NATO Stock Number (NSN). At first, the strap came only in one color, admiralty grey, and one width, 20mm. (Source
In recent years, the NATO strap has become increasingly popular, due to a number of reasons, of which a few are listed below. ZULU straps are often confused with NATO straps. ZULU strap have only 1 long strap, made of thicker nylon cloth, and has beefy rounded buckles. NATO straps have an additional strap that slides through 2 lugs, in order to have 2 straps of nylon under the watch, instead of one. Fjordson straps are NATO. (Source
1. Quickly interchangeable
NATO straps are quickly interchangeable. You can switch straps under a minute. This lets your easily combine straps with the fashion you’re wearing.
Produced for the military, the NATO strap had to stay exactly where it was. NATO straps are double looped behind the watch, resulting in 2 straps of nylon under the watch. This method holds the case exactly where it is.
Since it was used in the British military, the strap had to be failsafe. The double loop behind the watch keeps the watch safe in case a spring bar breaks.
Designed for the military, NATO straps are extremely durable. The strap handles very well under extreme conditions, dirt or water. You can also clean the strap easily with a hand wash in warm water and gentle soap, or you can put them in a laundry bag and machine wash.
5. James Bond wears one! or not..?
In Goldfinger, Sean Connery wears a navy blue strap with red and green stripes on his Rolex “Big Crown Submariner”. The movie came out in 1964, 9 years before the launch of the G10 strap. So officially, Bond never wore a NATO strap in Goldfinger. However, because of the high similarity to NATO straps, this particular combination has been called the “Bond NATO”.