No matter what your occasion is, whether you are heading out for errands, to the gym, or to a black tie event, there is a watch out there to fit your needs and your style. Not only do watch faces come in all different sizes, shapes, and colors, but watchbands have quite a bit of variety to them as well. The main differences between watchbands are the type of material they are made with.
While there are quite a few of materials out there, the primary materials used to make watchbands are rubber, leather, metal and NATO Straps. Each of these materials can be used to make an awesome looking watch that fits your needs.
What are the differences between these watchbands?
If your taste runs into sport watches, chances are your favorite pieces feature a stainless steel bracelet or a rubber strap. Why? Because genuine leather is not suitable with sporting activities. Your sweat would soak through the strap and it will break off sooner or later. If the stock band of your sport watch is made of leather, it must be replaced in more than one year.
Rubber watchband is ideal for a sport watch, but when the piece also has to play the role of a dress watch, a metal bracelet is more appropriate. Take dive watches as an example, they’re often available on rubber strap watchband or stainless steel bracelet. Most of the buyers who choose the rubber strap version are ones who would use the watch in true diving adventures, the metal watchbands version would serve as a versatile watch, which looks good with formal apparels as well as wet suits.
Metal watchbands would give you the solid feel by its weight and hardness. It’s also much more durable than leather strap. You just have to polish the metal band to erase minor scratches on it, but with a leather strap, you have no other options but replacing it with a total new one. And you know? Finding an aftermarket leather strap which is well matched to your watch case can be quite a chore!
However, there are some shortcomings that make people say NO to metal watchbands:
Skin irritation: In hot days, you sweat would collect under the inside of the band and cause irritation. In those days, you will find yourself take off the watch a few times just to wipe of your sweat.
Heavy: Well, not everyone likes a weighty metal watchband, some would find it too heavy for them to feel comfortable, they want something lighter.
Not as dressy as leather: Needless to say, a leather strap often makes your watch more elegant-looking than a stainless steel bracelet. This rule cannot be applied for every watch, but at least for the majority of timepieces.
A leather watchband watch tends to be more exquisite than its metal watchband cousin. That’s why a lot of dress watches feature an alligator strap. A well-made leather watchband would give your watch an appealing classic look that is very suitable with formal occasions. It is also much more comfortable to wear leather watchbands than a stainless steel bracelet. No more irritation! No more heaviness! And the most interesting is that a genuine leather watchband would twine around your wrist tightly after a few weeks of using.
However, similar to metal watchbands, these leather watchbands also have some flaws that you have to accept:
Smell: Yes, when your sweat doesn’t collect under the watchband, it would soak through the band instead. After a few months of using, your leather watchband begins to be bad-smell. You have to take it off the watch and bask it in the sunlight to avoid this issue.
Short-lasting: a buffalo or alligator watchband cannot sustain physical abuses better than a metal watchband. You might change the leather watchband a few times throughout your watch’s life.
Faux leather: it’s easy to evaluate a metal watchband’s quality, yes, you can feel it through your hands. But with leather watchband, an inexperienced buyer might confuse between the faux and the genuine. It takes a little knowledge about leather to buy a high-quality watchband without being caught with chaff.
While a metal watchband definitely serves its purpose, the same can be said for rubber watchbands. For the most part, a rubber watchband may not look as polished and classic as a metal watch bracelet. If you choose to go with a neutral colored rubber band, you could pull the classic look off a lot easier than if you were go to with a brighter color. But if your intent isn’t to blend in at all, colored rubber watchbands may be just the thing you are looking for.
When it comes to activities, a rubber watchband may be more advantageous compared to a metal watchband. It probably isn’t the best idea to wear a metal watchband to the gym or swimming in salt water, but it isn’t as much of an issue for a rubber watchband. You won’t have to worry about a rubber watchband getting knocked around a little bit, as it is pretty much impossible to get any dings or dents in it.
Caring for a rubber watchband is also quite a bit simpler than caring for a watch with a metal watchband. Anytime your rubber watchband gets any kind of dirt or dust on it, simply wash it off with some water and maybe some gentle soap and it should be as good as new!
Whatever your watch needs may be there is probably a watch with either a metal band or a rubber watchband that can fit your needs. While each material definitely has a place and time, it’s hard to say which is better than the other as it all depends on what you’re looking for!
NATO Strap Watchbands
Whether or not you know exactly what a NATO strap watchband is, you have definitely seen one. Some watch enthusiasts may scoff at the idea of putting a $15 strap on an expensive timepiece, but NATOs are a fun, functional and quickly interchangeable way to show off your watch. While the straps have become fairly ubiquitous, their origin can be traced back to a single point in history.
Interestingly enough, the term “NATO strap” came into use as a shortened version of NATO Stocking Number (NSN), and otherwise has very little to do with the strap carrying its namesake. The more appropriate name for the “NATO” strap is actually the “G10” — which is how we’ll refer to it from here. In 1973, “Strap, Wrist Watch” made its debut in the British Ministry of Defence Standard (DefStan) 66-15. For soldiers to get their hands on one, they had to fill out a form known as the G1098, or G10 for short. Subsequently, they could retrieve the strap at their unit’s supply store of the same name.
Since the NATO strap watchband was to be used by the military, it needed to be functional and fail-safe. The extra nylon had a keeper at its end through which the main part of the strap passed through after it had been looped behind the watch. This created a pocket, limiting the distance the case could move. As long as the strap was passed through properly and snugly on the wrist, the case would stay exactly where it was needed. The bonus feature of a strap that passes behind the watch is there so that in the event that a spring bar breaks or pops out, the case will still be secured by the other spring bar.
Whatever your watch needs may be, there is probably a watch with either a metal, rubber, leather or NATO Strap watchband that can fit your needs. While each material definitely has a place and time, it is hard to say which is better than the other as it all depends on what you are looking for!
Alternatively, you can choose wooden watches with wood watchbands just to be unique.