A stray of different straps in the nuance of colors and stripes can fill the artistic mind of yours. A perfect watch with a personalized strap can earn you tons of accolades. And the NATO vs ZULU watch strap stands as good options for a savage combination with your watches.
However, there’s no point denying that NATO has become a booming factor in the watch industry. With the fun and functional feature of the NATO strap, the fad doesn’t seem to fade soon. That’s why the namesake of NATO strap is now more prominent than ever. So you need to gain wisdom about the differences between NATO vs ZULU and other straps like Leather vs Metal watch bands
However, ZULU straps are almost the same as the NATO straps in function and formation. Though Zulu strap doesn’t have the rhetorical past it surely gives the most rugged and robust performance. There are lots of things to consider though while you’re wearing a personalized version.
In this article, I’ll make clear the main concept for NATO and ZULU straps. And besides, the misconception of ‘Bond NATO’ and the functional difference of 5-links ZULU strap. Without further ado, let me take you with me to dig into the differences between NATO straps and ZULU straps
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Throwback To History: ZULU watch strap vs NATO
The name suggests that the strap has a long military heritage. Yes, it’s related to the NATO troops somehow. But the name NATO strap itself is a misnomer.
In 1973, the British Ministry of Defense issued robust watches and straps for their soldiers. The newly issued military gear was known as “Strap, Wristwatch”. The straps were always 20mm in width. The classified color was known as “Admiralty Grey”.
However, If soldiers wanted to order the wristwatch strap, they needed to fill out a “G10” form. That’s why it took the moniker of ‘G10 strap’ in its early days. And the G10 straps were eventually nicknamed as NATO straps in reference to the “Nato Stock Number“. Each wristwatch straps had a different NSN and soldiers used it to indicate their straps individually. Eventually, it got the name NATO and became a favorite G10 NATO strap among watch fans.
Sometimes people thought that the trend started from its appearance in a Bond movie. Sean Connery wore the Submariner Ref. 6538 that adorned a striped nylon strap. Later, fans dubbed it as “Bond NATO“. But the Bond movie “Goldfinger” was released in 1964, almost 9 years before the MOD’s G10 NATO strap. And the Bond NATO is simply a single piece of the large strap without the presence of an extra strap. So it’s not the real NATO strap. But Bond movie throttled the fame of this kind of strap as NATO strap.
ZULU Watch Straps
Zulu watch straps should have a military history. The robust and heavy-duty strap is worth being worn on the battlefield (or your tough job). Inspired by NATO straps, Zulu straps are trademarked by Maratec.
Maratec produced this wristwatch strap for diving purposes mainly. Zulu straps are much chunkier and robust that divers can easily rely on it underwater. Zulu watch straps are now the best in terms of security, ruggedness, and strong design. Though there’s a little background story behind its interesting name, Zulu straps have been a popular choice besides NATO.
Difference Between NATO and Zulu Watch Straps
The motto of both watch straps is to secure the watch on the wrist with a strong grasp. Even if a spring bar fails, the watch will clasp to your wrist with their two-piece straps. So no need to worry about losing your watch in a crowd or in a rough situation.
Types & Tasks: NATO vs ZULU straps
Both NATO and Zulu watch straps are designed to withstand the rough and tough conditions. And to avoid the contact ofmetal with the skin, NATO straps, and 5-links Zulu straps loop and hook behind the watch. Thus it minimizes the risk of any unwanted engraving and ensures proper evaporation. But some differences in their functions still remain.
Following the trends, two types of NATO watch straps are dominating the watch markets these days. The usual and real, issued by the British Ministry of Defence and the Bond NATO.
Bond NATO is simply a single large strap of nylons or leather. But the NATO strap does feature an extra nylon strap with the long strap. The long strap is threaded through both lugs and then loops and hooks in the 2nd strap. Thus it ensures the security of the watch and it won’t fall even if a spring bar falls. One side will be attached to the straps worn around the wrists.
As NATO watch straps aren’t designed to keep the pressure of the spring bar. Rather the spring bar always tends to fall if you tighten the straps. That’s where ZULU thrust their trust with their 5-links watch straps.
Zulu watch straps are mainly two types. One feature 3 links while the other one adorns 5 links including the buckle rings. The 3-links strap is a plain single strap and doesn’t have any extra. It’s like the type of Bond NATO. But 3-links Zulu watch straps are heavy and fabricated with thicker materials. It ensures that the metal case back doesn’t touch the skin.
However, the 5-links ZULU watch strap is more of the same as NATO straps. Both of them feature two-piece straps. Zulu straps are, of course, chunkier and stronger than the NATO straps. Unlike the 4 links of NATO straps, Zulu watch straps present 5 links including the buckle brackets.
5-links ZULU straps are designed to lift the pressure of the spring bars. After threading and looping through the first two brackets, thread it again through the 2nd ring. And then hook and loop the long strap through the next two rings. This way, if you tighten the strap, it won’t put pressure on the spring bar. Rather the strap will absorb it. So this is the purpose of using 5 links in ZULU straps
Quality and Comfort: NATO vs ZULU straps
NATO watch straps are comfortable to use and easily interchangeable. Since it features a thin and lightweight strap, it’s easy to thread and interchange in most of the watches. Whatever it’s nylon or leather, the strap remains always thin.
But the ZULU straps are heavier, chunkier. They use thick nylon or leather that gives them a robust look. They are densely interwoven and thicker. That’s why they get tightly attached in the lugs of the watches. And it needs the power to thread them out or in of the rings. They aren’t easy to play with.
The striped colorful variations of NATO watch straps are now prominent and appealing too. While the Zulu straps are in plain paint, NATO watch straps are gorgeously striped with lota of color variations. You can personalize your own NATO watch straps.
Rings & Buckles: NATO vs ZULU
It’s clear that the ZULU watch straps are chunkier and thicker in every aspect. And it applies to their keepers also. The buckle rings are squared-off in shape. And the rings are thinner and lighter.
But the Zulu straps present beefier and stronger rounded buckles. They make a bold appearance in the first impression and can’t go unnoticed. The other keeper rings are also thicker and sturdy in the Zulu straps.
NATO vs ZULU watch straps: Which Is Better
Okay, that’s your personal preference. But you may want to keep something on your head while choosing one.
NATO watch straps are much easier to handle. They’re quite fun and easy and can be quickly interchanged. So most people tend to wear these thin and lightweight NATO straps. The sleek look always goes with casual attire. It’s more like a dressy watch strap and blends with the dressy watches.
Though NATO straps won’t look totally odd at any formal attires or business meetings, I will prefer Zulu watch straps for this.
The strong and bold appearance really goes with the formal vibes. And it’s more useful for persons in the rugged profession. But you won’t like the heavy and thick bracelet weighing on your wrist. It’s uncomfortable and not easy to interchange at a minute’s notice. But Zulu straps are more robust and useful for the hikers and adventures out there.
To sum up, I’ll say both are best in their own aspect. If you want a heavy-duty watch strap for robust use, then ZULU straps can be the best. And NATO straps are also durable and reliable to use in all situations, with fun and frill. However, hopefully you understand the key difference between NATO and Zulu watch straps.