How to

How To: Install A NATO Strap (Video)


How to install a NATO strap, on certain watches it is not as straightforward as it may seem. Certain watches, such as the pictured Rolex Explorer 214270 have the lug holes very close to the case, or ‘high up the lugs’. In practice you’ll have a challenging time adding any strap to these types of watches. As the strap will be too close to the case it will be easily damaged and shorten the lifespan of your straps considerably. In the below video and article we show you how you can work around that like a pro. Installing a NATO strap on other watches with plenty of room is of course exactly the same, except that you have the benefit of not needing to use curved springbars.

Due to the lack of space between case & springbar on these watches, the strap will either need to be impossibly thin or it’ll risk being severely damaged upon installation. As an example I have valiantly sacrificed one NATO to illustrate the point. All I have done to this strap is install it on the watch as you would on any other ‘normal’ watch:

All along the center, the case has scraped & damaged the strap

Now, what do you do? We can’t change the case nor move the lug holes. What we can do is rethink the springbars used. You’ll need to consider not using the standard straight spring bars and instead use high quality curved springbars (do not bend them yourself).

By installing the curved springbars and not the standard straight bars, you will create enough room at the side of the case so you can then finally think about adding (NATO) straps to your watch. Looking at the picture below you can see that the curve provides considerably more working room:

Curved springbars create enough extra space for most straps

Once the springbars are installed, all that’s left is adding the actual strap to your watch. That’s all there is to it. Just make sure to purchase good quality curved springbars and do not attempt to bend your own springbars, it’s just not worth it. Make sure to check out the full video at the top of this article for a good view on how to do that. In case you’re wondering how to remove the bracelet on your watch in the first place, make sure to check out the video here.



    1. Only if necessary of course. On the Speedmaster there’s plenty space left, a Black Bay is the same.
      On a Tissot Visodate you’d also need curved bars…

      The Explorer has the added ‘feature’ of having truly very sharp case edges, so it will rip open any (NATO) strap without hesitating. It was a bit of a let down after I got the Explorer as I like to switch to straps (clearly) for a change. Curved bars luckily fixed it 🙂

  1. I’ve recently bought the explorer 214270 as in the market to purchase this strap. Where did you purchase the curved spring bar?? I can’t see it anywhere on this site?

    1. Hi Kam, we don’t sell springbars but we stock them occasionally and if necessary add them to an order where needed (like in your case). You can find curved springbars easily online though, they cost little to nothing. We source the spring bars at the same place where we have our custom buckles made.

      1. Excellent, the straps i’m interested in is the High-Density Green NATO and Rugged ‘Rust’ Leather NATO strap. Do you know when you’ll get a restock of the High-Density Green Nato strap? Also, when I place the order, do I need to mention i require curved springs?

      2. Hi Kam, I have checked for you – at the moment we’re both out of curved spring bars and als the HD Green NATO strap. That particular NATO is likely to be restocked mid-spring or so. The other ones are all in stock! 🙂

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