Do you know how NATO watch straps were born? Let’s see a little bit of its story.
Legend has it that NATO watchbands were born for military use. Is not a coincidence that NATO is an acronym for North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
It is said that the origin of these straps is precisely 66-15 (Part 1) Issue 1 – Strap (Nylon) order issued by the British Ministry of Defense at 1973, 30th November, which incorporated the technical specifications of these watchbands type, originally called G10. This order has been modified within the time without changing the watchband design until Def Stan 66-47 on 2013 November. By the way, Def Stan is an abbreviation of Defense Standard.
Why did the British Ministry of Defense get into these things? Well, it has seen that, in the Second World War the British soldiers leather watchbands broke easily. Obviously, they weren´t Diloy. As it was not plan to leave the trench to change the watchband, the watch ended in the pocket where it became useless. The responsible of the Ministry of Defense thought a watchband made of nylon was much more resistant and also its longitude can be adaptable to different lengths according to the need of the moment. How did the name NATO become popular if it was the G10 model for British army? Because all regulated material in the armed forces of any member country of the NATO have to have a standard code the NATO Stock Number, to facilitate logistical work in case of joint operation. That’s why they keep with the name, NATO.
Some stuff the British Ministry of Defense specify for these watchbands are:
- Length 280mm.
- Width 20mm with a tolerance +/- 0.5mm.
- 12mm, 37mm and 87mm metal loops from the end of the buckle
- Both the buckle and the loops must be brass with chrome plating. Which by the way, it passes through the "uniform lining" he community directive transferred in the UNE-EN 1811:2011/AC:2012 norm that precisely would not allow a chrome plating that may have contact with the skin. But who will tell that to the British Minister of Defense?. Besides, if you see the picture below, it cannot be precisely said that the metallic part will be in contact with watch wearer's skin.
- Further the specific color: Admiralty Grey. Material: Nylon braided tape without additives that can irritate the wrist with moisture or in extreme conditions… but didn’t we say that the strap was not going to be in contact with the skin and therefore the joyous use of chrome? Who knows?... We guess when the original norm was written in 1973 the chrome thing was careless and 2013 version the chrome thing was careless either.
While this whole story is real and is documented in the above-mentioned specifications “Def Stan”, It is no less true that this origin is somewhat mythical. To know:
In the movie James Bond against Goldfinger in 1964, 9 years before specification of the standard of the British Ministry of Defense, James Bond wear a Rolex Submariner with a NATO watchband, which by the way was small for the watch case. The curious can see the movie and realize that detail. And there is the same color combination and much more in NATO 387 watch strap model.
In The 60s the RAF pilots wore too similar NATO watchbands. Even navy divers had belts also very similar to the later G10. It even seems that already in the 50s there was a regulatory strap on green canvas instead of in Nylon. Including the pilots of the German air force wore a version made in leather. From what we have seen in ancient documents, it would be very similar to our model watchband 385. The idea was being able to wear the watch on top of the flying overall so the watchband length had to be easily adjustable.
In any case, it is clear that the origin of this watch straps is closely linked to the armed forces. There is even a version with nylon instead of metallic thread that has recently made fashionable the Daniel Wallington brand. The origin of this version is linked to north American Air Force and it is the watchband 387D model in Diloy.
If you think so little, there is a version more that in Diloy we don’t have: The ZULU model with an additional metal loop. We thought about doing it in its day, but we believed that with the current models was more than enough. However, it is not a discarded project and any day a ZULU model for the purists will appear at the Diloy watch straps catalogue.
Speaking of our collection NATO, as you will see we do not meet the British specification. Starting out with our buckles and loops are made of steel and not of chrome brass as the standard would require. In addition, we manufacture up to 3 different widths. While our main measurement is 20mm, some combinations are available in 18mm and 22mm. As for material, we have evolved a little from simple Nylon to even more sturdy material called Dracon. It is true that it is not a difficult watchband to make with the naked eye and that as with the old Velcro straps, anyone in your house can do it with a scissor, a cigarette lighter and a domestic sewing machine. And I say apparently because there is more than it seems. For example, how do you get the tip curved and does not fray or have burned out pieces of material? Or how do you get the strap not fraying from the holes? do not know how other brands have solved it. In Diloy we solved it a few years ago by cutting each watchband with a laser. Still day, we have not seen a single strap that is frayed.