A Gentleman’s Guide to Watch Bands & Straps

There’s no easier way to
upgrade your timepiece than with a well-chosen watch band

by Becca Stonebraker
When asked for the time, most
of us take a quick glance at our smartphones instead of a watch. However, the
timepiece isn’t going anywhere. Watches aren’t just functional — they’re
fashionable too.  Whether it’s a piece
you wear every day or something you only bring out for special occasions, it’s
something every man should have in his wardrobe. The band plays a huge role in
a watch’s overall look — that’s why we’re focusing on that particular
piece.  Here are just a few of the many
types of bands out there, and some tips on the best ways to wear them.
Basic Leather Watch Band
Leather Watch Bands
The most common choice is the
leather band, without any bells and whistles. Its classic design makes it easy
to dress up or down. Leather looks equally great at the office as it does at a
more formal occasion like a wedding. Neutral colors like black, brown, or tan
are great for daily wear while the more complex styles like a python or
crocodile make for a more elevated look. Just like any other leather product,
your watch band will need some care. They can be ruined if they get wet or are exposed
to extreme temperatures, so be mindful when you’re wearing them.
Contrast Stitching Watch Band
Contrast Stitching on Watch Band
This watch band style uses the
added detail of contrast stitching to create an eye-catching look.  The detail comes from the contrast in color
between the watch band and the stitching. 
Go for watch bands with starkly contrasting stitching, like black and
white, for the most impactful look.  Wear
this band with an outfit that has distinct contrasting colors, to reflect the
aesthetic of the watch, for an ensemble that’s visually intriguing.
Ridge Strap

Double Ridge Strap
The double ridge strap adds
some texture to the leather band. The ridge effect is created with padding
under the watch’s leather. This subtle detail goes a long way in elevating your
overall ensemble. This style of watch band looks great with a square-faced
watch and will give your watch a sportier look.

Zulu Watch Band
Rally Watch Band
On more casual days, switch
things up with a rally watch band.  The
watch’s distinctive perforations were originally made so that the watch was
breathable for racetrack drivers — but today it’s all about the look.  This is a great band to wear in the summer
because the cutouts allow for some airflow and enable the band to move with
your wrist better. You’ll be able to avoid any sweating or chaffing.

Nato Watch Band 
NATO Watch Band
The NATO watch band is made of
nylon and comes in a plethora of designs and colors.  Originally used in the military, this band
style is valued for its price, durability, and water resistance. If you’re
doing anything active or near the water, this is the style you want on your
wrist. This band gives off a preppy vibe but is still simple with its
slip-through design.  Since there are so
many options design-wise, you’re bound to find a band that works well with your

Zulu Watch Band
NATO Watch Band
This timepiece that’s as
durable as it is good-looking. The Zulu strap is the older brother of the NATO
band. Made of either nylon or leather, it’s usually thicker and has stainless
steel detailing. These bands look good with larger watch faces and are best for
casual occasions.
Our pick: Infantry Military
Army Sport Quartz Wrist Watch, Amazon $25


Link Watch Band
Link Watch Band
Also known as the bracelet
strap, this watch band is a more formal style. A major pro of this watch band
is the different options in terms of material — stainless steel, gold,
titanium, and wood are all popular. Not only are there a plethora of materials,
there are also a few different takes on the link styles. Here are a few
different styles:

  • Oyster: A classic band style
    and the most popular type of the link straps. This band is three links in
    width, making it stiffer than other types of link bands.  Its thick center link makes it durable with
    few breaking points.
  • President: Similar to the
    oyster link with the same three-link width, but has more individual links
    overall because the links are shorter in height.  This band is not as durable but is more
    formal than the oyster style. You’ll also get more movement due to the greater
    number of links
  • Jubilee: This band is
    comprised of three narrow links in between thick, matte-finished side
    links.  It can sometimes come two-toned,
    adding some formality to this style.  
  • Engineer: A chunky band that
    is five links in width.  The links are
    sometimes angular and this band tends to be on the heavier side. This style has
    a more utilitarian look while the weight keeps it formal.
Our pick: Time Teller, Nixon
Aviator (Pilot)

Aviator Watch Band
Aviator Watch Band
Aviator bands were made
popular during World War II.  Although
their design has been altered over the years, the distinctive features have
remained the same. Aviator bands are made of leather and have large rivets
below the lugs.  They were made to be
able to fit over a pilot’s jacket so that they wouldn’t fly off of their
wrist.  These bands usually come a bit
larger than other bands and look best when worn with pilot watch faces. 
Our pick: Aviator 699
Alligator Embossed Watch, Gilt $89

Bund Watch Band
Bund Watch Band

The Bund strap is a style that
was also invented for pilots.  Their
purpose is even more functional than telling time. With an extra layer of
padding underneath the back of the watch, they’re meant to protect the pilot’s
wrist from burns in the case of a fire. This band may not be the most practical
choice since they’re on the bulkier side and are quite warm.
Our pick: Bund Strap, Feit


Rubber Watch Band
Tropic Watch Band
The Tropic band is the first
rubber watch band that was ever released. 
It has a unique texture, great breathability, and a slim profile too.
This style is popular among the diving community, but also for anyone else
looking for a durable, water-resistant watch.
Our pick: Taft Street, Timex
Watch and Learn

Whether it’s something you
save or splurge on, your watch is a reflection of you. Sporty and rugged or
formal and refined — it’s all in the band you choose. Experiment with
interchangeable straps until you find some you like and that you’re comfortable
Becca Stonebraker
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.