The genesis of the NATO strap can be traced back to 1973 and the British Ministry of Defence. Each member of the military was issued a watch, but it came on a leather band. As an option, the MoD began issuing a second strap fabricated from nylon for its moisture wicking capabilities. Originally, it was a 20mm strap with chrome-plated brass fittings and came only in Admiralty Grey. It became widely known as the G10 among troops, as this was the name of the requisition form (G1098) soldiers needed to fill out in order to receive one. Aside from its superior material, the strap operated as a safeguard in the field (or under water) against springbar failure, as it wrapped around the entire wrist.
Eventually, soldiers began to decorate their G10s with regimental colours; the fittings were upgraded to stainless steel; and, as the strap entered the mainstream consciousness, producers experimented with materials and styles. The term “NATO”—by which we refer to this design today—is simply a short form of “NATO Stock Number” (NSN 6645-99-124-2986) used to initially order the strap.
FUN FACT: The infamous “Bond NATO,” sold by NATO purveyors worldwide, is a misnomer. The strap used in the film Goldfinger was most likely a 16mm RAF strap. The film debuted in 1964, nine years before the invention of the G10.
Today, NATOs come in a variety of forms, loosely fashioned around the original model. One such variation is the Combat Issue G10 NATO from SWC/MILSPEC (SeaPro©). Like all NATOs, SeaPro’s G10 is of one-piece construction, measuring 280mm. Unlike many NATO straps, though, the G10 is a single pass strap, eschewing the smaller second flap which normally passes under the watch and through which the longer end passes. This more common design uses a stainless-steel strap retainer to limit the movement of the watch as it sits on the wrist. However, it is a just as common a habit among watch enthusiasts to remove this second flap altogether. The SeaPro G10 beats you to it.
But that’s because the G10 is made from nylon-coated rubber, rendering the extra flap superfluous. The flexible material is supple and lissome—much like an elastic band—causing the watch to sit snuggly against your wrist without the need of a keeper. The added benefit of the single pass is also that the timepiece rides much lower. Given that NATOs are most frequently paired with dive watches, which are commonly thicker, the slender single pass is much more convenient. From a practical sense, the material is also more resistant to water and salt.
SeaPro’s G10 uses brushed stainless-steel strap keepers, heavy duty screw pins, and wide matching buckles. The keepers are also adjustable for comfort and style, accommodating all wrist sizes. The G10 is available in four colours (black, navy, olive, and grey) and two sizes: 20mm/22mm. It retails for £28 ($38USD). In addition, supplied with each strap is a technical watch screwdriver and spring bar removal tool.
SWC/MILSPEC was founded in 2019 and is a Certified Supplier of the UK Ministry of Defense. They construct professional grade equipment for operators in the field, including the recently released MILSPEC Navy Clearance Diver.
Decent NATO straps from reputable producers can be had for under $20. The SeaPro Combat Issue G10 is on the higher end of this scale.
Enthusiasts are aware that not all NATOs are created equal. The quality of the materials and construction can vary widely. While the SeaPro Combat Issue G10 might be more expensive than some, it is well worth the price. The elasticity of the nylon coated rubber, paired with its svelte construction and single pass design, make for a truly comfortable fit. The robust buckle and screw pin speak of quality, and the adjustable keepers are an added bonus. In reality, the practical real-world applications of the G10 might not ever be put to the test by the majority of wearers, but as a simply aesthetic product, the G10 is more than equal to the task. From its tightly woven nylon patterning to its laser cut holes, its brushed hardware, and its tastefully signed buckle, there is little left wanting in a NATO. In other words, SeaPro’s G10 is built for the field, but just as likely to make a splash as a fashion statement.
For more information about the Combat Issue G10 NATO from SeaPro, visit their website.
Off The Cuff articles are full-length, hands-on reviews of the watch (or strap…) in question and represent the opinion of the author only. All photos are original, unless specified otherwise. If you would like to have your watch reviewed on this site, contact us here.
Please understand that using any links to products on this site may result in us making money.