For dive watch enthusiasts, few things elicit the sensation of summer like a Tropic-style strap. Since their introduction in the late 1950s, these iconic dive bands have captured the essence of water-side freedom. Their basket-weave texture and spine-like edging are instantly recognizable and can be found on all manner of watches from budget-friendly Casio Duros to high-end Rolex Submariners.
With the expansion of recreational diving in the 1960s and 70s, the original Tropic strap could be found on the wrists of amateurs and professionals, alike. Today, vintage Tropics fetch premium prices. But since 2019, the brand has received a reboot, courtesy of the Synchron group.
What draws enthusiasts to the original Tropic is the secret sauce–the seemingly perfect mix of comfort and durability. But consumer choice is expanding. There are many new brands now producing Tropic-style straps with varying degrees of success.
One of the best I have experienced is the Mariner Issue from SeaPro/MILSPEC. Now into its second generation, the Mariner Issue has maintained its robust vulcanized rubber construction. It is salt resistant, non-toxic, and hypoallergenic. But it has also undergone a few key revamps in this latest iteration.
The new strap is exceedingly supple and uses two slim keepers, rather than one. The hardware is brushed stainless steel and engraved with the MILSPEC brand name. It also uses circular punched holes rather than the original diamond form. Underneath, the strap is vented in identical manner to the Genuine Tropic.
The Mariner Issue, originally produced in black and as a special edition blue, is now offered in green and white, as well. It measures 130mm/80mm and is available in two lug widths: 20mm and 22mm.
SeaPro/MILSPEC is a certified provider of the UK Ministry of Defense. In addition to the Mariner Issue, they produce a Military Issue G10 and an all new Navy Elastic NATO Strap. Of late, they have also launched two dive watches: the “Navy Diver” and the “Navy Clearance Diver.” Their latest offering, the “Professional Diver” is available now on Kickstarter.
The addition of orange and yellow would round out this collection nicely; however, production of a red variant would provide the market with something as yet unavailable from the Genuine Tropic brand.
The Mariner Issue from SeaPro/MILSPEC instills confidence on wrist. It feels sturdy without being bulky. While slightly thicker than the Genuine Tropic, the Mariner Issue is flexible and lithe. It remains comfortable throughout the day and the keepers slide smoothly and are easily adjustable even when worn–which can be an issue for some Tropic-style straps. I like the slim taper and the hardware is of good quality. The weft pattern is also very well-rendered and has a nice sheen in the light. While most popular on a dive watch for its ease of use in water, the Mariner Issue can also provide casual summer styling to any number of steel sports watches. All-in-all, it is an admirable alternative.
The Mariner Issue retails for £55 (or approximately $75USD). For more information, visit the brand’s website.
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