GEAR | NATO watch strap

Nylon watch bands have always interested me, they're an affordable and easy way of changing a watch's personality for a season or a vacation or, just an outfit. NATO bands, the standard watchstrap issued by the British Ministry of Defense, have the extra "keeper" strap to doubly secure the watch to the wrist. The official British military spec strap comes in only one color (Admiralty Grey) and one width (20mm), but of course they come in all sorts of unofficial varieties.

NATO bands have been covered by fashion outlets for years and years, often noting that James Bond wore one with a Rolex Submariner, but he wore a ZULU (no extra keeper strap). I didn't know this but Bond is also often incorrectly cited as wearing a black and grey band, when now with the advent of HD TVs, we know 007 was actually wearing this color scheme.

This week I've been seeing NATO bands everywhere. I combed through them at the Army/Navy Surplus Store, then pawed at the incredible collection of NATO bands at Los Angeles' posh vintage watch dealer, Wanna Buy A Watch on Melrose. They're also available at J.Crew ($20) among several other online sources, and just yesterday I saw the A.P.C. double NATO band men's bracelet ($50)—a purists absolute nightmare. But back to James Bond for a second. I was intrigued to find out that the only woman ever thought to have worn a men's watch in a James Bond movie was Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. More than that, one Rolex historian believes that there may not even be a photo of any woman wearing a 40mm Men's Rolex Sports watch that pre-dates Pussy's 1964 character. So the trend of women wearing men's watches just may have started with (or gained steam) from Goldfinger. Her watch? A Rolex GMT Reference 6542 (commissioned in 1955 by PanAm to help pilots keep track of multiple timezones), a real pilots watch, a watch many collectors today even call the Pussy Galore Rolex. And it looks like maybe she's got a NATO band on in that photo. That must be what Bond was getting at when he said, "You're a women of many parts, Pussy."
Photos: Diagram via Keep the Timewatch bands via Sartorially Inclined; above two photos and text citations via Jake's Rolex World.
September 27, 2012 by Lizzie
Tags: 60s GEAR
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