Living in the Pacific Northwest, our workweek doesn’t just revolve around the office. On episodes 121 and 122 of The Bellingham Podcast , we hit on some of the aspects of our way of life that create a few of the Pacific Northwest stereotypes. On one of the segments, I explore our business attire. It is not uncommon to see most in the workplace wearing a form of ‘Pacific Northwest athleasure,’ or our hybridization of business and active-wear. It stems from our desire to look good in the office, but able to be active right after 5 o’clock. Many of us sport brands like REI, Prana, Eddie Bauer, and Columbia; three of the four not surprisingly founded here in the PNW. Going from the office to the trails in the same day is just as much a part of our Pacific Northwest workflow as the stereotypical coffee house on every corner is true to our culture. A small subset of working PNW professionals, who are also a part of the #watchfam community, tend to wear their classic sport watch with a strap combination that can be office appropriate and trail friendly. Here are four watch straps that I wear from the office direct to the trails.
UTE Watch Co (Toxic Natos)
Let me just say from the start, if you want a NATO style strap, then this is the one to buy. For me, it is the definitive NATO style strap. With that out of the way, Terry’s simple yet tough UTE/Toxic Nato straps have been with me through more adventures than any other strap. The heavy grade hardware is well finished and the strap itself just gets more comfortable the more adventures you wear it on. Mine have been soaked in streams, traversed sides of mountains, and survived perhaps one of the most grueling gauntlets one can encounter: The new dad era of taking care of an infant.
I have two of UTE/Toxic Nato’s standard nylon watch straps (TGN Grey edition), but if I had to choose all over again I would probably go for one of the Admiralty Grey Toxic Rogue straps that my podcast partner, Chris, wears regularly at the office. https://www.utewatchco.com/
Crown & Buckle Chevron
If you admire a Tudor Black Bay, or pine for one of their exclusively woven Julien Faure straps as I do, then this might be your next strap purchase. At an affordable $32, the Crown & Buckle Chevron strap has a unique set of colorways and an equally unique way to micro adjust its fit this strap with just a single buckle. It is constructed from a heavy weight nylon, with a pattern that reminds me of a woven version of a dense Milanese mesh pattern. Their “Night” strap also has a center-line option (shown here with a “Harvest” line) for that Julien Faure or Marine National aesthetic. The strap end is reinforced with a sewn stitch to help with fraying.
By and large this strap lives on my restored and modded SKX031 that I’ve been working on. It is perhaps my most often worn strap and watch combo to the office; but when 5 o’clock hits it has no problem keeping up with me on a trail or getting to the top of a hidden waterfall or two. One downside to others may be in its overall length. The strap can only be adjusted to be a max of 10″ / 255mm long, which for me sits perfectly on my 7.25″ wrist size. https://www.crownandbuckle.com
As I have said too many time to count on The Bellingham Podcast, Erika’s straps are by far the most comfortable strap there is. Full stop. I usually equate it to the same feeling you get wearing your favorite hoodie on an early Saturday morning. This strap was inspired from the original Marine National straps used for the French Navy special forces, so the history of its design alone speaks to the fact it will handle any rough terrain you may have at the office or on your local trails.
If your work keeps you jet-setting, this might be your next go-to strap. It’s elastic webbing combined with Erika’s super micro adjustable keepers will keep you in first-class level comfortable while at cruising altitude, or when you hit the ground running during a layover. The way the buckle folds over to hook into the buckle keeper tends to avoid the inevitable grind of hardware-on-laptop that I run into with most traditional watch straps. Away from the office or airport, it holds its own on the trails or hugging the turns of the road on my motorcycle on my daily commute. https://erikasoriginals.com
Zulu Alpha Straps
British designed and handmade by a company of one, this strap lives up to the motto Si vis pacem, para bellum: “If you want peace, prepare for war.” When Derran (former RN Forces) needed a watchstrap that was prepared for any condition, he looked to a few retired rifle slings he had. He took those slings and their well known tri-glide buckle and developed a strap for his own watch. To ensure it passed muster, he gathered feedback from several different branches of the Armed Forces and Emergency Forces who tested it.
For those whose work doesn’t include sitting at a desk, and whose professions require more hands on labor such as fieldwork or service, the Zulu Alpha Strap was pretty much designed with industry in mind. For me, this strap has quickly become my go-to for extended adventures. It has kept my Seiko diver from being ripped off in the rapid current of the Wenatchee river and secured to my wrist as I tackled mountain scrambles just to find where a frozen waterfall starts. The only downside to this tactical yet practical watch strap is that heavy duty buckle. While working at a desk it can sit a bit tall under the wrist, throwing off some typing ergonomics in front of a keyboard or on a laptop. That should just encourage you to type faster, so you can hit the trail sooner. https://zulualphastraps.com/
If you liked this post
Be sure to tune into The Bellingham Podcast or The Analog Explorer podcast. In particular, check out Episode 112, nick named the ‘Watch Strap Royalty‘ episode for Chris and my rundown of watch straps. Or tune into the AE episodes, and hear my conversation with five folks active in the #watchfam from around the world.