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The most notable feature of a NATO strap is its single-piece construction; most other straps are composed of two separate pieces, and can only be applied by removing both of the spring bars that attach to the watch.
Switching out straps is normally a time consuming process, but NATO straps are simply woven underneath the spring bars, so they can be removed or applied in a matter of seconds.
To remain aesthetically consistent, driving gloves (and later, rally straps) were perforated, too.
Some might argue that the perforations existed primarily for ventilation and breathability, but it’s difficult to tell the true reason.
I recommend picking up one of each type and deciding which you prefer in-person!
Retailers: Inspired by old school racing gloves, Rally straps can be easily recognized by the three or more large perforations punched out below the lugs.
Even if it wasn’t the original intention, the perforations do substantially increase ventilation, which can be useful in the summer heat.
Furthermore, there’s no better choice of strap to pair with a vintage chronograph, since they were frequently used to time races.
The veritable storm of NATO straps never quite ended, and they are sure to remain popular for decades to come.
It quickly grew in popularity throughout the military, and over time, the general public gradually began to appreciate the strap for its numerous features and abilities.
When the Cold War ended, G10 straps were sold in military surplus shops around the country, and they were all branded with a unique NATO Surplus Number.
By their very nature, watch straps are often considerably cheaper than an entirely new watch, so it is often more cost-effective to expand one’s collection of straps over splurging on another watch.
That’s not to say one shouldn’t own an assortment of watches – just make sure you don’t neglect that which connects them to your wrist.