Historical Horology: The NATO Strap

Posted on 12 January 2014 by Patrick Kansa

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In this week’s installment in our Historical Horology series, we’re going to focus in on a watch, well, accessory, that most of you likely have at least one of – the humble NATO straps. These bits of woven nylon are the perfect combination of robustness and affordability, and can change the look of a watch in a hurry. But do you know how the strap came to be?

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You might be tempted to assume that this was a strap made for NATO forces to use – but that’s actually not the case. The NATO name actually came to be as a shortening of “NATO Stocking Number”. If you want to get technical about the strap, it’s true name is the G10 strap.

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It was 1973 when the strap made it’s debut in the British Ministry of Defense standards; for soldiers to get one, they needed to fill out a G1098 form (which of course got shortened to G10). While the straps themselves might come across as rather generic today, they had very precise specifications.

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They were only available in Admiralty Gray, and came in a 20mm width, with chrome plated brass hardware. In the intervening years, all manner of colors have been introduced, stainless steel has become used for the hardware, and the width has shrunk to 18mm to accomodate the current militart-spec watch from Cabot.

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While these straps are ubiqitous, it behooves us watch folks to understand the origin (and whether or not the infamous “Bond Strap” was truly a G10), amongst other things. For a deeper dive into this watch, head on over to this article at Gear Patrol, and our prior writeup on the straps.

After reading this, if you’re in the market to get yourself a B10 strap, my go-to place for them has been our friends at Crown & Buckle.  If you pick one up, let ‘em know we sent you!

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