I love a good NATO strap, most adventure inspired watch enthusiasts are, but I’ve never really had any luck finding a comfortable leather one. For some reason with my wrist either the strap sits the watch case too much off my wrist, or the band itself doesn’t sit the watch case square on my wrist. So, I went on a journey to find a local leather maker that might help. I stumbled upon a little company in Fairhaven called ::found::, with two amazing leather artisans who are fun as well as talented. I told them about my project and not only did they want to help make it happen, but offered to show me a bit of the ropes so I could make it myself.
I wanted to make a few modifications to the contemporary NATO strap. First, getting rid of the double over strap with keeper buckles to reduce the height of strap off the wrist. I found a design (apparently based off of a WWII RAF aviators watch strap design) where the top of the watch case spring bar goes through a stitched loop in the strap, and the bottom just loops through. I had originally thought this would dig the case or the spring bar into my wrist, but with this case being 5cm long, it sits perfectly with this style of strap.
Nicki at ::found:: pointed me towards riveting the strap for both added looks and durability, I had to take out the lower set where the strap meets the upper lugs as rivets don’t bend well. I quickly found out why NATOs are stitched at least around the case.
I am a fan of a the wide pre-v style (Panerai style) buckles. Both because of the looks, and because of the slight curve in the buckle as it tends to wrap around my wrist at a comfortable angle. So this strap has one, instead of the welded stitched in buckles. As much as I like zulu style buckles and keepers, they tend to flop around. So for this strap I used a more squared off loop keeper seen on the nylon NATO straps.