The type of strap a watch is equipped with adds as much value to the watch as the timepiece itself. The strap determines the overall look and style of the watch, and the strap defines what the watch looks like on the wrist. Knowing the difference between different types of watch straps is critical to make the best strap decision for your style.

There are several different watch strap styles, including metal link bracelets, NATO straps, Milanese straps, and quick-release straps. Watch strap materials include various metals, including stainless steel and gold, leather, ceramic, canvas, nylon, and silicone.

There is more to watch straps than most people realize, and knowing the difference between them and what to look for in a good watch strap can lead you to make the best decisions when purchasing a watch. The strap determines how durable the watch is, how comfortable it is, and what it looks like, all of which are critical. Let’sLet’s learn more about this underrated timepiece accessory.

What Are The Different Watch Strap Types?

Several types of watch straps are available, many of which have been refined over decades, and some that are relatively new to the world of horology.

The strap paired with a timepiece is as essential as the timepiece itself. The strap defines the watch, the strap determines what the watch looks like and how it feels to wear, and the strap on a watch can determine how useable and functional a watch is.

The strap also determines the watch’swatch’s durability, where and how it can be used, and how it is presented to those who see it.

The strap on a watch is critical, and it is important to understand the differences between the various types, their characteristics, and how they affect the watch itself.

Before we learn about the different materials that watch straps can be made from, it is important to first identify the basic watch strap types, how they affect the watch and the experience of wearing it.

With that in mind, let’slet’s identify and explore the various watch straps available for modern timepieces.

Metal Link Watch Bracelets

Metal link bracelets are among the most popular watch strap types. They are especially common on luxury watches, as they increase the watch’s value, add to the type of the watch, and match the overall aesthetic of a luxury timepiece.

Metal link bracelets are a series of metal links pressed together to form the watch strap and have been a tradition in watchmaking for almost as long as watches have been made.

These straps can be made from various metals and are made into various styles, including Oyster Bracelets, Jubilee Bracelets, and Engineer Bracelets.

Metal link bracelets are among the most durable watch straps, and if they are made well, they will last just as long as the timepiece itself.

Metal link bracelets are usually slightly heavier than other watch straps, but they are comfortable and easy to use. These watch straps are not as durable as other types regarding general scraps and scratches, but they do not break easily and last a long time.   

This type of watch strap is a standard in the watch industry, they can be made from the same material as a timepiece to match its aesthetic, and they are considered the most valuable of all watch straps.

NATO Watch Straps

NATO watch straps are also commonly used for modern watches, but they are not as popular now as they once were.

This type of watch strap is a simple yet effective strap designed for military watch use in the 1970s, but the design is still prevalently used in modern watches as well.

The NATO strap consists of a single material strap woven through the spring bars on the watch’s case. This strap style consists of a very basic buckle set with few parts that can fail.

Very few watch strap types are as reliable and durable as the NATO strap, and if it is made from a tough material, it is generally more reliable and secure than all other strap types.

The NATO strap can make a watch feel more casual, but it lends a certain sportiness to any timepiece and can make a bulkier watch seem sleeker.

These straps are very comfortable, highly functional, and usually very lightweight, which makes them very easy to use. They are also very simple to install, which makes it easy to switch watch straps if the situation arises.

NATO watch straps can be made from multiple materials in several different styles, including Aviator straps, Bund Straps, Zulu straps, and even more progressive and modern strap styles such as Perlon straps.

Milanese Watch Straps

Milanese watch straps are somewhat less conventional than other strap types. This type of watch strap is made from a group of metal strands that are held together at each end by a metal clasp. This strap type has a unique look and only suits certain watch styles.

The Milanese watch strap is a woven or stranded metal strap with a unique feel and design. This watch strap suits ultra-modern watches well and is very stylized, but it also has some issues.

This watch strap type is not very durable and is easily damaged as the metal wires, or strands from which the strap is made, can be easily damaged or bent out of shape.

Milanese Straps look great, and they are very comfortable, but they are not as practical or easy to use as other watch straps, and they are made with more form in mind than function.

If a Milanese watch strap is made well, it can be very durable and last for a long time, but this will only mean that the strap will be exceedingly expensive and will still only suit certain modern watch styles.

This strap is also referred to as a mesh strap and is considered to have more aesthetic purpose than practical functionality. These watch straps look wonderful, especially on smaller watches, but they are not the right strap for someone who tends to be rough on watches.

Quick-Release Watch Straps

Quick-release watch straps or bands are made for convenience. This type of two-piece strap has a retractable bar at one end of each strap piece that enables it to snap into the watch casing easily.

This mechanism eliminates the need for a casing spring bar tool and makes it wonderful quick, and easy to remove or install watch straps.

Quick-release straps can be made from almost any material and in almost any style and are very easy to use. The strap’s material determines how comfortable it is, what it looks like, and how durable it is.

The spring pins in the strap are not always durable, and only the quick-release straps made to the highest quality are truly reliable. Cheap quick-release straps are not reliable and are prone to breaking.

However, these straps are usually not as expensive as other strap types, depending on what they are made from, and they are exceedingly convenient. They can also be very stylish and can be made to suit any watch casing, which means they are also very versatile straps.

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Watch Strap Materials

Now that we have identified the various basic watch strap types, we must consider the various materials from which watch straps can be made. The material that the strap is made from is as critical as the design of the strap and determines the overall durability, look, and feel of the watch.

Watch straps can be made from many different materials, all of which change how a watch feels to wear, how it looks, its value, how well it withstands wear and tear as well as damage, and how long the watch will ultimately last.

All of this means that watch strap material is critical.

Let’s explore the most common materials used for making watch straps and identify some of the strengths and weaknesses of these materials as we go.

Various Metals

A common material for watch straps is metal. Metal watch bands can be made from various metals, and the metal a strap is made from determines how much it weighs, how it reacts to wear and tear, how durable it is, and the watch’s value.

Typical metals for watch straps include stainless steel, titanium, and various precious metals, including gold.

Metal is used to make metal link watch bracelets, as well as Milanese watch straps, and some quick-release straps as well. Metal is durable and versatile and makes excellent straps when used well.

Watch straps made from high-quality or valuable metals add the most overall value to a watch and are the strap material of choice for most luxury watch brands.


Rubber is a versatile watch strap material used in various ways on modern watches. Several types of watch band can be made from rubber, and they can be incorporated into a strap with other materials as well.

Rubber is a durable material that is also waterproof and very long-lasting. Rubber does not tarnish, does not scratch, does not deform when bumped and is very comfortable.

The only drawback to rubber straps is that they do not always look very good, and they can detract from the aesthetic of a watch if they are not designed well.


Leather is the oldest material used for watch straps and can be made into a great many styles. For several reasons, many watchmakers would argue that leather is the best material for a watch strap.

Leather straps are more durable than almost all other watch strap materials. It can be made into any style, it can be made in various colors, it always looks classy and distinguished, it always adds style and flair to a watch, and it suits every watch style.

Leather can be stitched in various ways, tanned in various ways, and made to feel in various ways. Leather is a beautiful material for all watch straps and is ideal for this purpose.


Nylon can be sued in various ways to make watch straps, and it is often blended with other materials to make the strap more stylish or durable.

Nylon can be made into threads or strands and woven together into a watch strap that resembles a Milanese strap. It can be blended with other materials to create unique designs and be used on any type of watch.

Nylon can be used to give any watch a sportier look or provide a refined look if it is made well. This watch strap is comfortable and can fit any wrist, and these straps are usually very affordable.


Ceramic straps are somewhat modern in the world of watches, but they can be fantastic in many ways. Ceramic straps are made with hardened ceramic links and coated with a very tough glaze.

These straps are assembled in a similar way to metal link straps.

Ceramic straps are resistant to scuffs and scrapes but are brittle and can shatter if dropped. These straps look great; they are very lightweight and comfortable, but they are very expensive and can be broken easily.


Silicone watch straps are the most functional of all. This material is usually used to make straps for sports watches, and it is resistant to water, sweat, and all forms of wear and tear.

This material is lightweight, durable, long-lasting, and comfortable to wear, but it is not very stylish, and it is difficult to make a silicone strap look good on a well-crafted timepiece.

Unless the timepiece is specifically designed for a silicone strap, it may not look good with a silicone strap.


Sailcloth, also called canvas, makes an excellent lightweight, affordable watch material that can look fantastic. This material is hard-wearing yet comfortable to wear, and it is very inexpensive.

Most sailcloth watch straps are hand-made, which gives them a unique style, and they are usually one-of-a-kind, which is always desirable in a watch. Canvas watch straps last a long time, are weatherproof, and suit any watch they are paired with.

Watch Strap Material Comparison

Strap TypeDurableFunctionalStylishValuableEasy To UseVersatileLong-Lasting
MetalYesYesYesYesNot AlwaysRarelyYes


The material that a watch strap is made from, as well as the design and style of the strap, has as much to do with the value and functionality of the watch as the timepiece.

Choose the right strap for your timepiece and style, and you will enjoy wearing your watch even more.


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