Strap Origins – The Bund Strap

Article By: Logan Hannen

Sep 04, 2018

What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to dive into the origins and functions of one of my favorite straps: the bund strap.

The word “bund” is, in fact, a clue in and of itself for the origins of this rather unique strap category. The bund strap was issued to German pilots during the Second World War by the Federal Republic of Germany, or Bundesrepublik in German. Much like the origins of the term “NATO Strap” coming from the original G10 NATO form that soldiers had to fill out in order to receive the strap, the Bund gets its name from the very place its original intended wearers were from.

Tudor Prince Oyster on a Brown Bund Strap
Source: Joseph Bonnie

So what defines a strap as a bund, specifically? The only major difference between a bund and any other traditional leather strap is the addition of an extra pad of leather through which the top and bottom ends of the main strap are fitted to add an additional layer between caseback and wrist (again, echoing the bund’s fabric-y cousin the NATO). Most often, this piece of additional leather is made of the same leather (both in color and in actual cut of leather) as the main strap, but in truth, it is only the additional leather that makes a bund a bund, so you could theoretically take any two piece leather strap you own and convert it into a bund strap (so long as the bund doesn’t feature any specific keeper system that requires the use of proprietary two piece straps – see: the HODINKEE Newman Bund where the two piece strap is simply threaded through the slits in the bund).

Panerai on a Black Bund Strap
Source: The Rake

The bund’s extra piece of leather makes a lot of sense in context. Originally, the idea was that the strap was to be worn by pilots in combat and, as such, might run into any number of incredibly hazardous conditions. These could include, but certainly are not limited to cabin fires in which the metal back of a watch would become so overheated that it could, without the extra protection, burn the skin of the wearer, as well as in the opposite situation in which the extremely high altitudes caused the cabin temperature to decrease dramatically. In this situation, the extra layer prevents freezing to the wrist in addition to burning. As far as multipurpose straps go, this one might just win the prize for practicality.

Steve McQueen Wearing his Hanhart 417 on a Brown Bund Strap
Source: LIFE

Now, after the war had ended and things slowly began to return to business as usual for the world at large, the bund strap began to infiltrate the commercial wristwatch market, and there were two Hollywood stars who seemed to champion this utilitarian strap option – Steve McQueen (worn on his Hanhart 417 Chronograph) and Paul Newman (you know the watch). Both of these stars helped to cement the bund strap as a true contender of modern, functional watch straps, and to this day, they’ve become synonymous as such.

Do you own any bund straps, geeks?? If so, show them off in the comments on Facebook and, as always, keep it classy, watchfam!

MORE FROM THIS SERIES