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What are the Different Types of Watch Bands? (10 of them)

While there are many types of watches there are also many different types of watch bands. We put together a detailed list of the different watch band options. Check out all ten of them here.

A close look at a man's watch and its black watchband.

Many people don’t realize this, but the strap of a wristwatch is equally if not more important than its face. You may not pay due attention to the band of your watch; after all, the primary reason to have a watch is just to see the time and hence doing so may be more important to you. However, it is the strap of your watch that is visible to an onlooker, not the front of your watch!

Let us assure you that a good watch strap can significantly enhance the appearance of your watch. And add to that, a good watch can tell a lot about your personality.

The good news is that a watch band is always cheaper than investing in a completely new watch. Therefore, it is more reasonable, and not to mention cost-effective, to widen your collection of straps rather than splurging on a new, trendy watch every time.

All the watch lovers out there will be fascinated to learn that there are many types of watch bands in the market. If you haven’t explored them fully, here is your chance! In this blog post, we have combined a list of watch straps that you can put your money into and have the chance to sport a new one on different occasions or on a daily basis!

1. NATO Strap

Women’s watch with NATO watch band beside leaves on a marble background.

Whether you know what NATO straps are or not, we are sure you have seen one. It is a trendy watch band that has been in style for ages, and since the watch band has been loved and adored by almost every watch enthusiast, its popularity doesn’t seem to be going down anytime soon. While this modish strap has become considerably all-pervasive, their production can be linked to a specific point in history.

History shows that NATO straps originally surfaced in the British Ministry of Defence Standard (DefSan) in 1973. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a piece of cake to get hands-on these straps. Soldiers had to fill out a form called the G1098 or for short, G10. After the form was approved by the authority, they could acquire these watch straps from their unit’s supply store. At that time, the straps were only available in a single material and shade (nylon and grey) with chrome-plated brass buckle and keepers.

However, today, NATO straps are easily available, both online and at shops, and many elite watch brands including Tudor, Hamilton, Bremont, and Blancpain are churning out worth-your-money G10 straps. These straps ensure that the watch stays on your wrist firmly and you are able to remove them without snapping the spring bars.

2. Zulu Straps

A pair of Zulu watch bands.

While these watch straps have an interesting name, they do not have much of a background story. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Zulu straps are inspired by NATO straps as they both are similar in appearance. That being said, there are a few but significant differences that make Zulu bands stand out from NATO watch bands.

First of all, Zulu straps are made from a thicker material, either leather or nylon, which helps elevate the strength, reliability, and durability of a watch. However, the downside of these straps is that they may not fit well between the spring bars of some of your watches. Hence, before you pick out Zulu straps, make sure that they coordinate well with your chosen watch.

Another significant characteristic of Zulu straps is that they are chunkier and possess a well-rounded keeper and buckle. However, keep in mind that the watchkeeper is just an added feature in Zulu watch bands. They are mostly available in 3- and 5-ring configurations and therefore possess no aesthetic appeal. On the other hand, NATO straps exhibit a slim and far sturdier set of keepers.

If you are confused about whether to invest in NATO straps or Zulu ones, then remember that Zulu straps consist of exceptionally large dimensions which make them ideal for big watches. On the contrary, NATO straps are perfect for small watches since their straps are small and thin.

3. Oyster

A pair of watches with Oyster watch bands.

This is the watch strap that was introduced by Rolex in the 1930s. And the day the Oyster hit the market, it lifted the watch industry to a whole new level. It gorgeously flaunts chunky three-piece link design which makes this metal watch band a sheer classic, to say the least. Having this watch strap in your collection will indeed prove to be a worthy investment. While it is strikingly attractive in every sense of the world, there is more to it than meets the eye.

Every Oyster owner boasts the superb functionality of this amazing watch band. It is popularly observed that the large center bar of the Oyster makes its links super strong. Additionally, its sturdiness lowers the chances of stretching and breaking of the watch. Another reason that contributes to the durability of the strap is its limited number of links.

You’ll also find that the clasp on the band is much more convenient than a leather strap with a buckle.

The decreased number of swivel points makes it impossible to experience breakpoints by the wearer. However, this feature comes with a price. At times, a small number of links can feel stifling to the user and may make them feel uncomfortable. Regardless of this negligible issue, Oyster watch straps are a great choice for any type of watch. No matter how simple or basic your watch is, the Oyster straps have the ability to uplift its beauty instantly.

4. President Watch Band

A look at a golden watch with President's watch band.

President watch band, a more luxurious and upgraded version of Oyster and Jubilee bracelets, got its name from Dwight D. Eisenhower the 34th President of the United States. It is said that the maker of Rolex offered the former U.S. President the watch band as a token of respect and appreciation which he happily accepted. Since then, the President band has become a top choice among watch collectors.

Visually, President straps are a perfect mix of Oyster and Jubilee straps. However, the watch straps have refined over the decades and are twice more lush and expensive than Oyster or Jubilee straps. President bracelets are accessories that only rich can afford as they are meticulously crafted in gold or platinum. It is believed that a single President watch strap is made from 18 karats of gold, elevating its worth to a great deal.

The width of link pieces in President straps resemble that of the Oyster. However, there is a startling difference between the total links used in both of these luxe bracelets. The President’s straps are heavier than the Oyster. Therefore, links are way shorter in this type of band. Small links help make the watch more comfortable on the wrist and doesn’t allow the wearer to feel stiff.

However, the increased number of small links has an adverse effect on the durability of the bracelet as it increases the chance of breakage. But this won’t prove to be a huge concern. The extensive usage of the watch bracelet may make the strap slightly stretch, but if the quality of the straps is excellent, then there won’t be any solid harm to your bracelet.

5. Jubilee

A silver watch with Jubilee watch band.

When the brand Rolex turned 40 in 1945, the Jubilee bracelet was introduced in its honor. The Jubilee bracelet was specially crafted for Rolex’s Datejust model. And at that time, it featured only in single colors, typically gold and stainless steel. But over time, two-tone types such as gold and silver, silver and blue, etc began to appear in the market. After 70 years of its origin, apart from the combination of colors, the jubilee bracelet has profoundly remained the same.

The most worthy feature of the Jubilee bracelet is its three remarkable links that are located between the wide side links. Like the President straps, the total number of links in Jubilee bracelets is similar. However, owing to the triple-wide construction, the center part of the bracelet tends to look slightly leaner.

As you attach the Jubilee bracelet to your watch, it instantly directs one’s attention to the front of the watch. The mono or duo color of the bracelet helps boost the appearance of the watch. We’ll suggest investing in the Jubilee watch strap if you are looking for a fancier accessory to go with your sleek, shiny suit or dress.

6. Engineer Bracelet

A silver watch with an Engineer bracelet watch band.

Specifically designed to be exceedingly heavy, Engineer bracelets are famous for their wide wrist presence. Created by Seiko, Engineer bracelets have five chunky links that make the width of the bracelet quite dense and large. What is more attractive about these links is the shape they are cut into. These unique links appear in a pseudo-hexagonal style that very few other watch bracelets display.

Due to the weighty links, the size of the engineer bracelets is dense too so you can expect some wrist fatigue as a result of wearing it. Due to this reason, the Engineer bracelet is an ideal pick for strong, wide-wristed folks. However, this doesn’t mean that people with small wrists can’t sway Engineer bracelets. When paired with a small watch case, the bracelet may not be visually too impactful and may also look decent on a wearer’s wrist.

7. Aviator/Pilot Band

A close look at a watch with Aviator/Pilot watch band.

This type of watch strap was popularized by the German air force during World War II. The purpose of this type of leather watch band was to assist pilots in knowing the time when in war zones. The first version of this watch strap was extensively long so that it could fit the pilots’ jackets. Over time, rivets were also added around the lugs to avoid the watch from falling down. While the use of these rivets has become redundant, they do enhance the aesthetic appeal of the watch.

Not only did the straps were humongous, but the watches designed for this type of band were also enormous. Owing to the purpose for which these watch bands came to existence, pilot watch straps remain to be ideal for pilots to date. They work extremely well with pilot watches designed by IWC, Laco, Stowa, and Hamilton.

These straps also work phenomenal with chronographs originated to help pilots calculate their flight timings.

8. Tropic Straps

A vector illustration of a watch with Tropic watch straps.

Initially developed in the 60s, tropic watch straps were a cost-effective alternative to the metal watch bands. The metal bracelets were quite functional as they worked underwater, perfect for swimmers and sportsmen. Unfortunately, they were super heavy and expensive, making it hard for the wearer to consider any substitute. But then the origination of tropic straps, also known as, rubber straps helped solve the problem caused due to metal watch straps.

Did you know that the tropic straps were the first rubber straps ever? These straps became instantly popular due to many reasons; firstly, they were easy to attach to any kind of watch. Second of all, they were light and easy to wear. Their soft texture allowed breathability and optimum comfort both qualities that were impossible to be found in waterproof watch bracelets until then. Note that early versions of this watch strap were somewhat rigid and frail but at the turn of the 70s, some quality tropic straps started to be made that continued to perform for ages.

One of the best qualities of tropic watch straps is its durability. It’s surprising that the manufacturers have managed to maintain the straps longevity despite its slender appearance. What is more surprising is the fact that these straps were featured 40 or more years ago but despite that, they still permeate brand-new feels to the user and onlooker. If planning to sport tropic watch straps, then keep in mind that they complement vintage timepieces the most. But they look exceptionally great with contemporary watch bases as well.

9. Perlon Watch Straps

A close look at a Perlon watch strap with a red stripe in the middle.

Perlon watch band, like tropic straps, came to attention during the 60s. Perlon straps are easily distinguishable due to their thick nylon material. These nylon threads are woven intricately with one another which makes the texture of the watch strap durable. Although Perlon straps come in tight three dimensional patterns, they allow reasonable breathability. In other words, Perlon straps aren’t stifling.

Unlike many other watch straps, Perlon watch bands have no pre-punched holes. This allows the watch to be as resizable as possible and apt for a wide range of wrist sizes. Another great feature of Perlon is that it is resistant to extreme abrasion. So its quality remains undeterred after long, continuous uses. Perlon straps can also be worn underwater; they won’t stretch in water and will take no time to dry up.

It is difficult to get your hands on these watch straps if you happen to live in America. Since Perlon straps were designed and invented in Europe, very few American retailers have a stock of these straps. Interested buyers will have to consult international markets/brands to get preferable colors and styles.

10. Waffle Straps

A pair of white waffle straps.

Invented by Seiko, waffle straps are famed for the company’s most successful inventory. These rubber straps premiered in the early 70s and became instantly popular, especially among Vietnam servicemen. When the Vietnam army went back home after the war, these waterproof and breathable watch straps gained immediate attention from their closed ones.

Waffle straps were liked due to their breezy and flexible characteristics. They were also easy to clean which make them the first choice for a low-maintenance person. Unfortunately, these watches are no longer available in the market as their production has been discontinued for good.

All these incredible watch straps come in a wide range of variety, style, color, and texture. When looking to buy one, see which one you like the look and feel of. Trust your instincts; go ahead and purchase it then!