Collecting automatic watches is often a very expensive hobby. It’s been nearly 8 months since my last purchase (the Longines Master Collection Moonphase) and will likely be at least another half year before I’ve responsibly saved enough for my next watch. That said, as I was researching my next timepiece (most likely a pilot watch), I realized that for many types of watches, simply switching out the strap can give it a completely new look. One particular style of watch straps caught my eye both from an aesthetic and a price perspective: the NATO strap.
Fortunately for me, there were many options on the market for NATO straps. After reading some posts on Reddit and Watchuseek forums, it seems like many agreed that BluShark NATO straps, while somewhat more expensive, were known for their superior quality, especially when considering their premium AlphaShark line. I took a look at the website, and was pleasantly surprised at the “expensive” prices of $32 each for their most expensive straps. In addition, BluShark offers several deals such as “buy 2 get 1” and “buy 3 get 2” to incentivize larger orders. Compared to prices of actual watches that are multiple thousands a piece, spending less than $100 on these straps to add a ton more flexibility in my watches’ appearance seemed like a no-brainer.
After narrowing down my choices considering my current and future watch colors, I used the “buy 2 get 1” deal and bought 3 straps, the Admiralty Grey, Bond, and Orange (all AlphaSharks), for just shy of $60 since there was no tax or shipping. Note that for BluShark, if you spend over $100, you’ll get a spring bar tool as well as a watch case. The spring bar tool is essential to changing out watch straps, but I was able to find one on Amazon for $8 that included 72 replacement watch strap pins in addition to the tool itself.
When I received my 3 NATO straps, I was immediately impressed by the quality of BluShark’s AlphaShark line. The buckles felt sturdy and looked polished. The straps themselves each had a luxurious sheen to them and the nylon was sealed cleanly on all edges. Just from a visual perspective alone, I didn’t regret spending the extra few bucks on these higher end NATO straps.
Replacing my watch straps was definitely a struggle at first, but it’s something I’ve gotten better at with more practice. The spring bar tool surprisingly hooks onto the notch on the watch pin very tightly, and the most difficult part for me was finding the second hole after attaching the watch pin on one side. Another important lesson I learned early on in installing the BluShark AlphaShark straps was that the straps are a little on the thicker side due to their higher quality, making it rather tough to slide the straps through the attached spring pins. Instead, it was much easier for me to put the watch strap in place first and then attach the pin over it. For instructions on how exactly to wear the strap, I found this site extremely helpful since it gives five different ways to wear the strap. After trying each one, I decided on the classic double loop as I found it to be the best balance of comfort and style.
It’s been about a month since I first received my BluShark straps and wearing them has been a joy. Previously, I only had three looks for my three watches: casual diver with stainless steel bracelet, dress watch with black leather strap, semi-formal watch with brown leather strap. Now, I have 6 more (reasonable, since I’m not going to put my dress watch on the orange NATO strap) options:
- Diver with orange NATO strap for casual outdoor/summer wear
- Diver with Bond NATO strap to dress down a more formal outfit (this is how James Bond wears his)
- Dress watch with gray NATO strap for a different take on a dress watch
- Dress watch with Bond NATO strap so I can actually wear the dress watch casually
- Chronograph with Bond NATO strap to dress down the watch even more
- Chronograph with gray NATO strap for another semi-formal look
In addition to all of these options, I can also switch around my black and brown leather straps as well as my bracelet with my spring bar tool. It feels like I’ve tripled my watch collection.
Needless to say, I was overall very pleased with my BluShark NATO straps and think they’re a great way to add value and flexibility to an existing watch collection without breaking the bank. If I’ve sold you on them and you’re willing to give them a try, please use my referral link here. You’ll get $5 and I’ll get $15.50, an easy-win-win!
Lastly, here are some photos of the BluShark straps and my watches to give you a better idea of how they look! If you like my watches and want to read my reviews on them, here are the links to those:
- Review: Tag Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 5 Automatic
- Review: Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Cinq Aiguilles
- Review: Longines Master Collection Moonphase L2.673