Your Bag

Nothing in cart

How to Wear a NATO Strap: A Guide to Wear Them Right

How to Wear a NATO Strap: A Guide to Wear Them Right

Wearing a NATO strap can be done in several versions to create a stylish look. Learn how to wear a NATO strap and make it a versatile choice for everyday wear.
Apr 09, 2024

Wearing a NATO strap can be quite confusing for a first-time wearer. These straps are intentionally designed with extra length. However, hidden within this intentional length lies a stroke of brilliance – a versatility that allows wearers of various wrist sizes to embrace this iconic accessory comfortably. So, how to wear a NATO strap?

The NATO strap’s design embodies a “one size fits most” philosophy. Small to medium-large wrists can elegantly fold and tuck back the excess into the keeper. Even for those with larger wrists, where the excess might not be enough for a double tuck, the strap’s termination near the second keeper remains both functional and stylish. 

In this article, we will share a guide on how to wear a NATO strap along with several styles that will elevate your overall look with this stylish strap on your wrist.

How to Wear a NATO Strap

Thanks to the extra length of a NATO strap, watch enthusiasts find several ways to wear this type of strap stylishly without compromising comfort. Here are three ways on how to wear a NATO strap:

Version 1

The first version of how to wear a NATO strap is the most classic and straightforward way. This version gives you a more secure fit and added style. Follow these instructions to use this version:

  1. Start by threading the longer end of the strap through the top spring bar from the back of the watch, ensuring the watch sits comfortably on your wrist. 
  2. After sliding the strap through the spring bar, you can push the watch pretty much up until it reaches the second keeper.
  3. Take the long end of the strap and push it through the keeper and fasten the strap to make it comfortable for you. Now, there should be two layers underneath the watch.
  4. Secure the strap around your wrist as you normally would do for any watch strap. Then, move the end of the strap upward through both keepers.
  5. As for the remaining ‘tail’, you can choose either to tuck it inward or outward – most people prefer inward for a clean and neat finish.
  6. You are set to go with your classic NATO setup.

Version 2

The version 2 is basically the backward way of the version 1. Instead of sliding the strap through the upper spring bar, you start from the bottom spring bar (at the 6 o’clock position). The final look is pretty much the same as version 1, except that you get the excess strap on the inside. Therefore, you can follow the instructions in version 1. 

Version 3

The version 3 is also called a single-loop method that requires you to put your wrist after threading the tail but before tightening it. This version offers a raise and is less bulky so that your watch can sit comfortably under your cuff. Follow the steps below to wear a NATO strap in this style:

  1. Start with passing the longer end of the NATO strap through the top spring bar (at the 12 o’clock position) from the back of the watch. Then, pull it upward through the bottom spring bar. 
  2. Face the watch downward and position the keeper of the shorter piece as the center. 
  3. Normally, you would slide in the strap through the buckle of the shorter piece before putting it on. But in this version, you don’t do this step. Position the shorter piece on the same side with the strap end that has a buckle. 
  4. Put the watch on your wrist and slide the other end through the keeper of the shorter piece and watch buckle simultaneously. Fasten the strap to fit your wrist comfortably. 
  5. Slide the remaining ‘tail’ through the keepers and tuck the excess part inward. 

Read also: A Helpful Guide and Dandy Tips on How to Wear a Watch

Styling Tips: NATO Strap Fashion Hacks

Now that you have learned how to wear a NATO strap in different styles, let’s take a look at how to elevate your look with this durable strap on your wrist.

Casual Chic

Embrace the effortless charm of the NATO strap by pairing it with your casual attire. Whether it’s jeans and a t-shirt or a relaxed button-down, this strap adds a touch of laid-back sophistication to your look. Opt for earthy tones to effortlessly elevate your everyday style.

Mix and Match

Try mixing and matching different NATO straps with various watch faces. Play with colors, textures, and patterns to create unique combinations that reflect your mood or the occasion. Pair a striped strap with a solid-colored watch face for a playful contrast or vice versa for a more subdued yet stylish appeal.

Seasonal Flair

Let your watch adapt to the changing seasons. In warmer months, go for bright and vibrant straps that exude summer vibes. Think sunny yellows, oceanic blues, or fresh greens. As the weather cools down, opt for deeper, darker tones like burgundy, navy, or forest green to complement the fall and winter palette.

Formal Edge

Surprisingly versatile, the NATO strap can even accompany formal wear. Choose a sleek, solid-colored strap in black, charcoal, or deep brown to add a modern edge to your dress watch. This unexpected pairing bridges the gap between classic elegance and contemporary style, making a statement without being overly casual.

Read also: How to Wear a Watch with a Suit: Pull Your Look Together

Maintenance Tips

NATO straps are known to be durable and can withstand harsh environments. Yet, they still need regular maintenance to keep them in top condition. Find out the tips below!

Regular Cleaning

Nylon NATO straps can accumulate dirt, sweat, and oils from daily wear. To maintain their appearance and longevity, clean them regularly with a mild soap or detergent and lukewarm water. 

Gently scrub the strap with a soft brush or cloth while paying attention to any soiled areas. Rinse thoroughly and allow them to air dry completely before wearing them again.

Rotation is Key

If you own multiple NATO straps, make sure to wear them regularly. Constant wear and exposure to sweat and moisture can accelerate wear and tear. By alternating between straps, you’ll not only prolong their lifespan but also maintain their quality and appearance.

Avoid Moisture Exposure

While NATO straps are generally durable, excessive exposure to moisture, especially salt water, can cause damage. Avoid wearing them in situations where they might get submerged in water for prolonged periods. If they do get wet, ensure to dry them thoroughly to prevent mold or mildew from forming.

Store Properly

When not in use, store your NATO straps in a dry and clean environment. Avoid storing them in direct sunlight or humid conditions, as these factors can affect the material and colors over time. Consider using a dedicated watch strap storage case or pouch to keep them organized and protected from dust and potential damage.

Final Thought

The NATO strap’s blend of functionality and style makes it a must-have accessory for watch enthusiasts seeking a versatile and trendy look. Knowing how to use a NATO strap in different ways allows you to swap between styles and find one that you feel comfortable with.

With its ease of wear and plethora of styling options, this strap offers a perfect combination of fashion and practicality that effortlessly enhances any timepiece. So, which style that intrigues you the most?

Read also: Which Hand Do You Actually Wear a Watch? (Right or Left?)

You may like this

Related Articles

Compare watches
Comparison Chart

No watches in comparison chart

Artboard 1
Artboard 1



Lug width

Water resistance


Lug Width
Water resistance