NATO straps have been around for quite some time and are renowned for their practicality, ruggedness, and affordability, but in just the past few years, they have become incredibly popular outside of their niche usage. There are many reasons as to why the NATO (or G10) strap has developed from a niche and utilitarian accessory for watches into a cool/stylish one, but the Swiss watchmaking giant that is Omega might have had something to do with this. Let me explain...
Omega was the first manufacturer to make luxury NATO straps; effectively starting a trend that other companies such as Tudor, Breitling, Panerai, and more have followed, each producing their own lines of high-end NATO straps. When Omega initially launched their NATO strap line, many were taken back by their stratospheric prices. But it turned out that the straps provided real quality and were not simply an average NATO with an Omega logo on it. However, above all, Omega brought NATO straps to the masses and we have all benefited from the increase in awareness of this cool watch accessory.
When I bought my Omega Speedmaster back in 2019, it came in a large box with two additional straps for the watch (of which are no longer included with the Speedmaster). I really disliked the original bracelet and I quickly switched to the included black NATO strap and I was shocked with just how good it was. The Omega strap was surprisingly soft, subtle, and pliable; I wore my Speedmaster on it for over a year and it is still in “like new” condition. About nine months ago, I received a grey Omega NATO as a gift, but this one was made out of polyester. It too featured impressive build quality, but it wasn’t quite as comfortable as the polyamide option and it honestly feels a bit chunkier on the wrist. That said, the polyester strap does feel a bit more authentic than the polyamide option. Overall though, I would recommend the polyamide option over the polyester as it does feel like a more refined product. Perhaps the coolest thing about the NATO strap is how it changes the character of a watch. In my experience, when a watch is equipped with a NATO strap, it doesn’t seem to be noticed as much by others which is a preferable attribute for some. NATO straps also increase the versatility of watches from both a functional and stylistic point of view. You can wear a NATO equipped watch to just about anything shy of a black tie event (and even then you could still probably pull it off). That said, the big negative of a NATO strap is how it raises the center of gravity of a watch on the wrist and this can make it feel cumbersome on some occasions. Overall, NATO straps are worth adding to your collection and Omega makes the very best.
You can pick up an Omega NATO for around $160 today which is a lot of money for a NATO, but I say it is absolutely worth the investment if you want a unique, high quality NATO strap for your watch.
You can check out Omega NATO straps here