A note from the field
NATO STRAPS: A RATHER RIVETING HISTORY
May 16, 2018
The Zulu, G-10 or trusty NATO; it’s a strap of many names and a strap of many claims; durable, interchangeable and undeniably smart, but what makes the NATO strap loved by so many? It could be its intriguing history or its synonymy with James Bond himself. Whether it’s the roots of British tradition that excited you or the thought of being one step closer to becoming the next 007 (we hear they are looking at the moment?) then this is the post, and evidently, the site for you. So if you are a ‘die-hard’ NATO fan, see what we did there, or a newbie to the idea we have put together a detailed history of the strap and how it came to be how we know it Today.
1900 – 1940:
With Britain on the cusp of war, pocket watches were the favoured timepiece for the typical English gentleman in the early 1900’s. As World War 1 broke out, it became increasingly evident that these handsome timepieces were not suited to use in the trenches. Desperate measures called when soldiers found themselves in the midst of war struggling to make use of tools such as whistles and binoculars whilst having to manually check the time (talk about multi-tasking!) resulting in them having to improvise. They did this by attaching metal wires to either end of their watch case using a soldering technique.
This technique would allow for a cotton canvas or leather strap to be fed through. In the Mid-1930’s a company by the name of DuPoint introduced the invention of nylon, meaning a nylon strap could now be fitted to fasten their watch in a more functional manner. It is this interesting part of history that inspired our Officer Watch. The watch mirrors the striking pocket watches once worn by men in Britain and emulates the watches adaptation to allow for a strap to be attached, which is also why this is our only watch that allows for both 18 and 20mm strap compatibility.
You can purchase our Officer Watch in both Black and Cream HERE.
1940’s – 1960’s:
As time moved on certain regiments, such as the Flying Corps, found themselves in dire need of a longer strap in order to fit over their bulky aviator jackets whilst remaining secure. By this point watches with lugs were more widely in circulation and straps began to adapt to suit the needs of the entire plethora of service personnel.
Note that in 1964 Ian Flemings ‘Gold Finger’ broke on to our screens, this was 9 years before the official release of the NATO strap! Sean Connery famously sported a 16mm Nylon one piece watch strap on his 20mm lug Rolex, why? Well, it is suggested that the Rolex actually belonged to producer Albert Broccoli and was leant to Sean Connery for the scene. Sean may have had smaller wrists than Albert, meaning that the original metal strap would have been to loose on his arm. It is speculated that the ill-fitting nylon strap was a last-ditch attempt to resolve the problem in time for filming.
The wardrobe faux pas didn’t divert from the unmistakable allure of the rugged stripe strap in beautiful contrast with his luxury timepiece. When you think logically this strap was a perfect choice, long enough to fit over his wetsuit and suitably durable for any circumstances a secret agent might wind up in.
The original Bond strap featured the coloured stripes of black, red and green; contrary to popular belief that the strap was a simple grey and black colourway. Having said that, the later has become widely known as the classic 007 NATO. Available online, should you wish to purchase.
The original nylon strap from 1964’s Goldfinger and the more widely known Bond NATO Strap, pictured below.
You can purchase your very own Bond NATO Strap HERE.
1973 saw the Ministry of Defence bring in an adapted version on the Nylon strap. This version that we now refer to as the beloved NATO strap. The MOD decided that it was time to bring in military requirements for the strap to make them more suitable for the unforgiving conditions of trench life. Originally known as the G-10 strap they were named after the G-1098 form that soldiers were required to fill out in order to obtain one from the NATO store.
Straps were available alongside other essential pieces of kit, such as binoculars and flashlights. These NATO straps differed from their earlier counterparts, most notably due to the fact they were required to have an extra, shorter piece of nylon attached to the buckle, meaning if a spring bar were to break the watch would remain secure. Other specifications included that the straps be of a 20mm width and in the colour of Admiralty Grey.
There has been wide speculation over this colour choice, maybe to match the battleship grey of the Royal Navy, or maybe as a means for camouflage, the more likely idea, however, being the significantly less exciting idea of a simple abundance of material. In 1978 a company called Phoenix took over production of the Military spec strap and are widely recognised as the pioneers for the G-10 strap as we know it today.
1980’s and beyond:
As time moved on from the official advent of the NATO strap by the MOD, manufacturing was turned over to the Cabot Watch Company. 18mm straps were introduced to fit the new Military-spec watch that had been brought in, similar to that of our Swiss Made Military Watch, which was designed to replicate the army’s standard timepiece. Gone were the days of Admiralty Grey and straps now came adorned with the coloured stripes of One’s regiment acting as both a symbol of pride whilst adding a sense of colour and identity to those during their time serving. Since its humble beginnings, the strap has grown to now be available in a wide range of colours, sizes and finishes. Here at Smart Turnout, we like to remain true to history, which is why we provide straps in both 18 and 20mm, in one of the widest selections of historic regimental colours.
The Cabot Watch Companies Military-spec Watch alongside our Smart Turnout Military Watch, pictured below.
You can purchase our Military Watch HERE. 15% of all proceeds from the watch got to SSAFA the Armed Forces Charity
The Strap of The Month: Household Division
Fun Facts: The Household Division consists of seven regiments, The Life Guards, Blues and Royals, Grenadier Guards, Welsh Guards, Irish Guards, Scots Guards and Coldstream Guards. Both Prince William and Prince Harry, along with our Founder, Philip Turner were all part of the Household Division. The blue, red, blue colourway is instantly synonymous with all of these regiments as well as the prestigious Ivy League University of Pennsylvania.