Watch strap styles: a brief guide to the 3 most important ones

Watch straps are an extremely important part of the watch. After all, without them, there will be no way to attach the watch to your wrist and therefore, no way to tell the time from your wrist! But aside from their obvious functionality, they’ve are an aesthetical compliment of your watch’s dial, and many watchmakers and enthusiast seek to create a perfect combination between them. In this article we are going to cover mayor watch strap styles, including fabric, leather, bracelet et al., for you to pick up what works best for your style.

Watch Strap Styles

  • 1. Steel Bracelet

The steel bracelet has become both a sporty and elegant option, which perfectly suits many watch dial options. This, in turn, creates highly versatile timepieces, that can be suited up or down according to the situation you are in. Stainless steel is definitely classy, and depending on the polishing it can be either an understated, quiet option, or a bling.

There are many different bracelet types:

Mesh: Milanese or Shark.

These is a rather simple steel band, made of metal wires made to look like a continuous mesh. This makes for a rather light, elegant and, most of all, easily adjustable bracelet. There are two types of mesh, Milanese and Shark. The first one is made to resemble chain mail, and derives its name for being a style used in Milan back in ancient times.

While being rather similar in style than the Milanese, the Shark is considerably thicker. Shark is a rather similar style. This strap got its name from an ad run by Omega, and makes more of an impact than regular Milanese.

Oyster Bracelet

A style made popular by Rolex, oyster style bracelets are made of 3 individual pieces, combining into a “link”. This design actually increases each links durability, which makes for a long – living companion to your watch. Due to its complexity, these require a bit of extra input to resize them in case you need them tighter or looser for your own wrist. It is become extremely popular, and will definitely compliment most, if not all, timepieces.

Jubilee Bracelet

Following the Oyster, Jubilee uses three different sections. The ones at the middle, however, are shorter, which creates a more formal and glowing look. The central links can sometimes be of a different color - in what is called a two-tone bracelet, which in turn, when matched when the case, can highlight the whole dial. It is commonly used in dress watches.

  • 2. Single Piece Fabric: Nato and Zulu Straps

While these have the most informal look out of all strap styles, fabric ones are cheaper, come in a wide array of colors and pattern designs, and are the easiest to change. They also seem to be a popular match for dive watches. Sean Connery wore one Rolex Submariner matched with a two tone NATO strap as James Bond, and from then on his look has been iconic. These tend to be a single, long piece, which wraps around the back of the watch and closes on its own.

NATO Straps

These derive their name from an official NATO designation. The UK issued this particular style to its troops back in the 70’s, and soon became popular with civilians as well. Certainly people used fabric straps in a similar way previously, but NATO became their official term later on. As part of military tools, these needed to be as resistant as possible, and privileged function over form. Worth noting: they also shield the users skin from the case back, which can help to avoid allergies or possible dermatitis due to over exposure to the steel.

Zulu Straps

Watch strap styles

Zulu’s are NATO straps beefed up with more resistant materials, and usually uses thick steel rings to cover up the excess loop. Some of our watches ship with matching Zulu strap colors, to reinforce the rugged look.

  • 3. Two piece straps: Leather, Rubber, Etc.

Leather and rubber straps are rather simple and straightforward. They are made of two pieces of matching colors and sizes, and mostly differentiate themselves due to aesthetic composition, such as if it’s a single piece, has stitching, has holes, buckle types etc. Some fancy calling them differently, but at the end they are mostly similar. 

Watch Strap Styles

Due to its composition, leather tends to be avoided during the summer, as it quickly absorbs sweat and requires a more careful treatment and constant cleaning. On the other hand, rubber is perfect for most situations, especially for swimming, although it lacks the elegance to be matched up with a suit and tie.

Perhaps one very especial type of leather strap is the very sought after crocodile leather. While not necessarily made from dead animals, this band has a particular texture and look, which makes it seem much more refined in comparison with other, more casual leather types.