3 Summer Watch Straps That Aren’t NATOs

Article By: Logan Hannen

WATCH101 | July 01, 2019

With summer officially in full swing, and with the temperature rising in kind, it’s time to ditch the leather straps (after all, sweat is not exactly leather’s best friend) and go for a more heat-friendly option. And while NATO straps are easily the most popular warm-weather alternative, I want to offer three more options that can work just as well while offering some different looks in the process.

1: Sailcloth

Sources: Bradystraps and Mr. Sailcloth, respectively

I’m a big fan of sailcloth straps. Fundamentally, they’re not too different from your average canvas strap in terms of basic construction, but the thing that separates them is both the material (nylon) and the weave (which is far denser and more water resistant for it). It dries impressively fast, and though a bit stiffer than some other straps at first, once sailcloth breaks in, it is easily one of the most comfortable options out there. Beware that many are still leather lined, but since it’s a thin lining that’s more for comfort than for construction, it isn’t nearly as concerning as a 100% leather strap would be in the heat.

2: Natural Vulcanized Rubber

Source: Bonetto Cinturini

Natural vulcanized rubber watch straps have been a staple of higher end sport/dive watches for a while now, and it’s easy to see why. First of all, they’re incredibly comfortable, but moreover, they lack the lint-attracting nature of silicone. My favorite feature, especially from brands like Bonetto Cinturini and the variety of brands they produce straps for, is the vanilla scent they apply to the rubber. It’s purpose is to mask the otherwise kind of nasty, chemical scent that rubber has on its own, and it gives the straps a unique identifying feature. Being rubber, they’re of course water resistant, and in case you were looking for something a bit dressier, worry not – options like this Zulu Diver alligator print rubber strap exist and, until you inspect them closely, you may not even notice they’re not leather.

3: Mesh/Milanaise Steel

Source: Long Island Watch

Finally, we have a metal option. While your standard steel bracelet will do in a pinch (I’m especially fond of a nice beads of rice bracelet myself), the way mesh bracelets are woven allows for more air to pass through them, opening them up to being even more breathable and, as such, cooler on the wrist. You can pick up $10 options from Amazon all day long, and they’ll certainly serve the purpose for a while, but investing in a decent quality milanaise/mesh strap is definitely a wise move if you plan to wear it often. German manufacturer STAIB is widely regarded as one of the best in the business, and their straps certainly back that up.

Okay geeks! There we have some summer strap options that offer something a bit different than the easy solution of slapping a NATO on your watch (and I love a good NATO, don’t get me wrong). Hopefully now you’ve got a better idea of some different ways to keep yourself not only cool in the summer heat, but classy, watchfam.