Different Watch Band Styles | 10 Different Strap Designs

We discuss the different styles of watch straps available on the market today. This post talks about the brief history as well as provides a stylistic insight of how the different variations of straps can be styled with different watches.

As an infant watch strap company, it is only appropriate that our first article discusses the various types of watch straps available on the market. While our niche is vintage style watch straps and we rather a classic look, it is good to be exposed to the other styles of watch straps too for a different look to our watches.

NATO

(Image source: Watchgecko.com)

Initially adopted by the British Military under the “G10” name in subtle monotone camo colors. Primary feature is its single piece construction of woven nylon. Contemporary takes on this strap include a wide plethora of colors to choose from to match most watches and commonly spotted on “Daniel Wellington” watches and some modifications as a two piece

Benefits:

  • Cheap (Between the $10-$15 range)
  • Easy to put on and swap out
  • Durable and water resistant

Look:

  • Casual and Versatile

P.S: The cost of these straps have a wide range, and there are some variants to the quality, mostly mass produced in China. Some use thicker nylon and have a better built and aesthetics. You should not pay more than $20 for a NATO in my opinion.

ZULU

(Image source: Jebiga.com)

Similar to NATO but taking on a more rugged look, being constructed with thicker material such as nylon or leather as well as a larger metal keeper to accommodate the girth of the strap. These keepers normally come in a 3 or 5-ring configuration. Commonly worn on watches with larger case sizes ranging from 44-47mm, great look for the outdoorsman with large wrists.

Benefits:

  • Extremely sturdy
  • Pairs well with large watches
  • Long lasting

Look:

  • Rugged and sporty

P.S: These straps are rarely seen on vintage watches as most vintage watches go up to a maximum of 42mm. I do see these on Omega Speedmasters mostly or the vintage Longines Tartaruga.

Rally

(Image Source: monochrome-watches.com)

With looks based off of old school racing gloves, rally straps feature an iconic 3 (sometimes more) large perforations right below the lugs. Reminiscent of vintage race cars which comprise of holes drilled into them to reduce weight as well as to increase ventilation and breathability, these straps are consistent with these design considerations.

Benefits:

  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Looks great on chronograph with a tachymeter scale

Look:

  • Need for speed

P.S: These straps occasionally come with smaller perforations, with some leather artisan broguing unique-looking patterns. I personally think the unpadded rally straps with special brogue designs are a necessary staple for vintage Heuers (like this Vintage Heuer Calculator).

Aviator

(Image Source: chrono-shop.net)

These type of straps were made popular in World War II, and whilst the design has been altered over the years, these straps still hold on to the fundamental design of being made of leather and having large rivets below the lugs. These straps were made chunky and thick to be worn over flight suits, however modern iterations of it have been modified to be slimmer for added comfort. The rivets are also not used to fasten the lug end of the straps as most modern watches nowadays come with spring bars rather than fixed lugs.

Benefits:

  • Simple time only pilot watches are accented well with the steel rivets
  • Durable
  • Screw down rivets compatible with watches with fixed lugs

Look:

  • Top Gun

P.S: IWC Mark X and XI look great on these straps. As a matter a fact, many modern IWC big pilot watches as well as their later Mark models come with aviator straps. However buying these straps as standalone from IWC can set you back approximately $400-$500, which can be used to build a vintage watch collection.

Bund

(Image Source: Reddit)

Invented for German pilots in World War 2 to protect the pilot’s wrists from being burnt in the event of a fire. By adding a piece of leather between the watch case and the pilot’s wrist, it functions as an insulator, thereby preventing the heated metal case from being in direct contact with the wrist. Furthermore, it acts as an insulator for the cold weather and also an absorbent material for perspiration.

Benefits:

  • Visually adds heft to smaller watches
  • Soft and comfortable
  • Great for watches with fixed lugs

Look:

  • Military Hipster when styled with a camo jacket

P.S: Most military watches or vintage boy sized Rolex/Tudors measure 33mm-35mm and by modern standards are considered small. However when paired with a bund, it can visually increase the size to look like a 38mm watch. However, it is not suitable for warm climates as it can be quite uncomfortable in the summer.

Tropic/Waffle

(Image Source: forums.watchuseek.com)

Developed in the 60’s as an alternative to metal bracelets, these straps are made of rubber or some derivative of a polymer making it suitable for water based expeditions. Primarily focused on the diver watch niche, many watch enthusiasts are now adopting it for non-dive watches as well. With its perforations, it provides breathability as well as gives the strap a unique visual texture. The waffle strap was also designed with the same idea in mind, but aesthetically, it consists of numerous small vents running down the sides of the straps.

Benefits:

  • Waterproof
  • Easy to clean and flexible

Look:

  • Rugged with a unique texture

P.S: Most of these rubber straps look great on vintage dive watches, in particular the Seiko MAS as well as other niche dive watches like the Zodiac Seawolf or 666 divers.

Perlon

(Image Source @ mirko1704)

Made popular in the 60’s, Perlon straps feature an iconic woven basket pattern and are made of tightly woven thick nylon-esque thread. Unlike traditional straps that have punched holes to secure the watch on the wrist, the interwoven threads function as holes along with the adjustable buckle which accommodates different lengths allow variability for all wrist sizes. Furthermore, it comes in a variety of colors which make it a fun option to play around with.

Benefits:

  • Variable lengths fit all wrist sizes
  • Cheap
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to put on and swap out
  • Versatile

P.S: There are many cheap perlon straps that can be found on the market, and for the price you are paying, there isn’t much to complain about the quality, however, if you are particular, there are some vintage made Perlon straps that can be found on Ebay, but they do sell for a significantly higher price of up to 5x the mass manufactured Perlon. It is significantly thicker and the weave is more consistent for these vintage Perlon, however, whether the price is justifiable, it all depends on the individual.

Double Ridge

(Image Source: yeomanseiko.com)

The double ridge design is simply a variant of the classic leather watch strap and the ridge effect is done by adding padding under the leather before it is glued and assembled. This style of strap provides a chunkier look as opposed to classical design. It can be used to accentuate the ruggedness of a watch without being classified as an overly sporty watch band.

Benefits:

  • Unique look
  • A compromise between sporty straps and classic leather straps

Look:

  • Great for square faced or cushion cased watches

P.S: I’ve seen some of these straps being worn on Speedmasters and are quite aesthetically pleasing. Especially for those who use their Speedmaster as a dress watch. It can dress up a sports watch without pushing boundaries.

Classic

(Image source: camillefournet.com)

The favorite of Wabi Straps and the main design we carry at the moment. This particular type of strap is so versatile that when you wear it with a dress watch, it accentuates the look of the watch and even when styled with a sports watch, it can be pulled off with ease. Not to mention how awesome it looks on vintage. Classic leather straps come in 2 main cuts, straight cut or tapered cut. Our preference is obvious when you check out our curation. To simply put, a tapered strap just looks incredible.

Benefits:

  • Versatile
  • Comfortable
  • Variety of leathers and designs to choose from

Look:

  • Jeans and T-shirt
  • Suited up
  • In your beach shorts
  • Goes with almost any outfit without being judged for pushing it

P.S: There are so many different types of leather and designs and colors that the classic style is capable of being the only style of strap in a strap collection without ever having FOMO on the other styles.

Contrast Stitching

(Image Source: abp-paris.com)

A variant of the classic design but with additional details to add some subtle funk to your strap. The detail comes from the starkly contrasting stitching that runs along the perimeter of the strap. Another alternative stitching method is a glued, padded strap that feature a pair of stitch pattern right below the lugs. An example of this can be seen in our store and these are great for a smart casual look.

Benefits:

  • Great for dressing down dress watches
  • Adds some funk to a classic looking strap

Look:

  • Smart Casual

P.S: The variant of contrast stitch below the lugs are often seen on watches like vintage Rolex Submariners or Chronographs like the Daytona and looks really amazing. A suede or cordovan leather works best with this style.

 

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