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NATO Zulu Mariner style watch strap

15 September 2016

Writing a press release:
OK lets see how many really cool marketing expressions we can find that are used to describe this totally sexless utilitarian watch strap.
……….…  NATO (Yeah that’s always a good one)…  Zulu (Even better, they say that a lot in Hollywood) … Ballistic (Awesome, we’re really getting there now).  PVD…  ( Hmmm, just a tad geeky, maybe we’d better stop at that).

wp_20160917_010_edited : Model Pt-KB06Bzu : NATO Zulu style watch strap

The conversation continues…
So it’s a NATO Zulu style ballistic nylon mariner watch strap with PVD coated keepers and buckle. Yep… Where did the “mariner” creep in?  Dunno.  But you were using the strap on the RIB.  …You mean Rigid Inflatable Boat?  Can we say RIB-Mariner??? No better stick with the model no: Pt-KB06Bzu.

It seems like everyone is wearing them now, even my mother-in-law. I blame James Bond.

wp_20160917_006_edWhy bother?

We’re all familiar with the problem in this shot. Not only are the rubber or silicone synthetic straps sometimes uncomfortable. But they are not very durable in extremes of temperature.   It took me a while before I realised there should be better alternatives out there, and I started trawling on the internet.

Of course the strap breaks, usually when you are flexing your wrist and unaware that you are doing it. You don’t have to be up against an ice wall either. Something as simple as crossing a stile and you won’t even know it’s gone. I lost one in England once, in the White Peak, trekked back and found it. I was lucky.

Ease of use

small_ss004403001_m-9blackblack_nhYou take your old watch strap off, and put your new watch strap on. Simples. Well you will need to take care with your old spring-pins, the ones that retain the strap. And you’ll either need to put those back, or fit new ones.  With some instruments such as the Suunto M-9 compass I reviewed, it’s simply a question of sliding the original velcro strap out and sliding the new one in.

But there are plenty of videos on YouTube that illustrate all of this. Just search Nato Zulu watch strap. Then you’ll have both a utilitarian watch band and look cool.

wp_20160812_004_edited_editedTechnical detail

Width: 20 mm – but they come in various widths to fit most popular watch sizes. For example 18, 22, 24 mm.
Length: Closed and buckled it will wrap around an object with a 24 cms circumference, so it shouldn’t create a cold spot on your wrist if you wear it outside of your garment.
Thickness: Probably a nominal 2mm. Actually about 1.7mm
Materials: Ballistic nylon with PVD coated steel fittings.


  • Durable materials, not readily damaged or affected by extremes of temperature, torrential rain or salt water. Including the PVD coated keepers and buckle.
  • Well made. Cut edges and holes appear heat fused to stop any kind of fraying and features very high quality stitching with no loose ends.
  • Long strap lets you wear your watch/wrist instrument on the outside of your garment in foul weather or at sea.
  • The double keeper arrangement at the buckle means you can fold away excess strap length.
  • You can take pressure off the spring-pins or other instrument fitting. Make the outer loop marginally longer than the inner loop by turning back and not looping through the third keeper of the Zulu style strap.
  • Less likely to fail than a modern synthetic strap. And if a spring-pin fails, you won’t lose the watch.
  • Can be used for a variety of emergency repairs with sacs and other gear.


  • James Bond has made NATO & Zulu style straps popular. Though why Rolex don’t supply them as standard I can’t imagine. Anyway it affected the price point of the good quality versions and caused the introduction of a lot of cheap copies.

Pub trivia

Of course you’ll probably need to defend your new purchase when down at the local hiking and rambling pub. There’s always going to be someone who said they made theirs using some old boot laces and superheated dubbin. So here are some handy facts.

  • Ballistic nylon really earned its name, protecting US flyers from shrapnel in World War II. I think it was actually invented by Dupont in the early 1940s.
  • PVD is a coating 4x harder than chrome. And doesn’t require any kind of clear coat that would degrade over time.
  • MARATAC ZULU is the trade mark that seemed to capture the fad.
  • Zulu style watch bands have chunkier hardware than the more traditional NATO catalogued style. And have 4 rings and a buckle compared to 3 rings and buckle.
  • Keepers: Aficionado’s call the loops/rings: keepers It helps if you are blagging your way through a conversation. Avoid saying PVD – you’ll be drinking alone.

Useful Links

I bought mine online from the WatchbandCentre, based in Germany, simply because I’d purchased other straps from them previously and I’m happy with the quality

Here is the actual strap I bought, which is suitable for use with the Suunto M-9 wrist compass. I’m told it’s currently out of stock but should be back “in a few weeks”. Christmas then.
The sample strap: Model no: Pt-KB06Bzu

Other colours: All black not cool enough for you? Here’s a link to their site search engine that should give you a list of different colours and patterns available in this model

wp_20160917_014_edited : Model Pt-KB06Bzu : NATO Zulu style watch strap with Suunto M-9


You keep me honest: My product review policy and practices

Updated: 17th September 2016


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