A watch strap is an essential part of the watch. It makes or breaks its complete design. A tough steel watch band on a dress watch looks just as wrong as a rally strap on a dive watch. Watch straps are interchangeable to a certain degree, but some combinations just don’t work. Today we will be taking you into the world of the leather watch strap and we’ll show you how to combine different straps with different watches.
The rally strap
First of all, the rally strap. This is a leather watchstrap characterized by, usually, three big holes in the two parts of the strap. The inspiration for this watch strap stems from the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, the golden age of motorsport. During those years the seats in racecars were perforated to better dissipate the heat. The seats weren’t the only surfaces to be perforated, for instance, the pedals were perforated too. The main goal of perforation was weight loss. A watchstrap doesn’t really need to lose weight, but these rally straps wear significantly cooler during the summer than a regular strap.
After the rally strap comes the perforated strap. The perforated strap is most likely inspired by the rally strap. These straps are, as the name suggests, perforated. Usually we see a line with medium sixed holes in the middle of the strap, with one row of smaller holes on each side of the middle line. If you buy this watch strap, you can give your watch a sportive motorsport look. Very similiar to the rally strap, but more subdued and therefore easier to combine.
These two watch straps are perfect for bigger watches and especially for chronographs. Chronographs have the same history to motorsport as rally straps, therefore making it the perfect combination. So keep in mind that these straps can overpower smaller watches and your strap needs to compliment your watch.
Aviator or pilot strap
Besides watch straps being inspired by motorsport, there are also straps inspired by airplanes. Again there are two types of straps, the aviator or pilot strap and the bund strap. What characterizes the pilot strap are the rivets close to the watch case. These are a typical detail, but they aren’t necessarily part of a strap to be considered a pilot strap. One other key feature found in the pilot strap is the way it tapers. These straps are tapering very strongly close to the watch case, but after that they are rectilinear. These watch straps made sure the timepieces didn’t slip of the wrists of pilots during the second World War.
The bund straps are leather watch straps with a patch below the watch case. The case is then attached on this leather patch. These watch straps also find their origin in the war. It is often told that the leather patch insolated your wrist from the watch in case of a fire. It’s also told that is was to protect the wearer from the big crown of the watch, which could easily irritate the skin. For pilots this is not the case, they wear a warm flying jacket for protection. The watch was worn on top of these jackets, and secured with extra long watch straps. An valid argument for the origin of the bund strap is the transition from the pocket watch to the wrist watch. The wrist watch became a lot bigger and more masculine, because of this strap. That was desirable, because the wrist watch was seen as a women’s piece of jewelry.
Both watches can of course be worn on pilot watches. These straps can also be worn on field watches, because these watches share some common features with pilot watches.
Another watch strap inspired by the army is the NATO strap. This watch strap was invented by the army, because they made watches with fixed spring bars. This was to ensure that the watch didn’t slip of the wrist during battle. Traditional straps were not compatible with these watches, therefore the NATO strap was born. Purists of the NATO strap think it should not be executed in leather, but the leather NATO strap combines ultimate usability with comfort and class.
The Nato strap can be combined with nearly every watch, except for divers, because leather is not water resistant. Furthermore, they won’t fit real dress watches, because they are supposed to be worn on a regular leather strap, preferably with a crocodile or alligator print.
Leather watch strap
Last but not least, the regular leather strap watch. This is the regular strap without any special features. This doesn’t mean that the strap needs to be boring. A lot of variation with different leathers, types of stitching, padding and finishing make this strap just as diverse as the previous ones. These straps are also often embossed with a different pattern then the leather it is made of. For instance, you can find a calf strap, with alligator embossing. This keeps the strap affordable, but gives it an exotic look.
This watch strap fits nearly every watch, with exception of dive watches, because leather is not waterproof. If you do decide to take your watch into the water, we’d suggest to put it on a NATO strap or a metal bracelet.