16 Types Of Watch Straps To Dress Up Your Favorite Timepiece (2024)

If you are a timepiece enthusiast like us, you know that a watch is also a fashion statement, a reflection of your personality, and an essential accessory in the grand symphony of style.

Here is a timeless piece of watch wisdom: make a few versatile watches feel like a full collection by simply swapping straps.

You can change the bands on your favorite timepiece to add a rugged, dressy, vintage, sporty, or sophisticated flair to your look.

Accessorizing watches with custom straps is genius and next-level cool. Sure, A-listers like Lebron James, Ryan Reynolds, and Kanye West have set the bar really high, but still, you can stand out with your timepiece even with a more modest budget.

Fasten your seatbelts (or should we say, wristbelts?): here are the best types of watch straps to embellish your favorite watch.

Why you can trust Luxe Digital? In a world where time is both fleeting and precious, the quest for the perfect timepiece is also a journey of trust. As watch enthusiasts ourselves, we understand this all too well and take our product recommendations seriously.

Having interacted with tens of hundreds of brands, we know what quality looks and feels like. Of course, we have our favorites, but we are always keen on providing unbiased reviews to help you make the right purchase decisions. If you are seeking to buy a new watch, read our luxury watch brands review first.

See also how we test our products, and our unique HAPPY philosophy on purchasing high-end products.

Watch bands vs. straps vs. bracelets: What’s the difference?

Watch fasteners fall into two categories: straps and bracelets.

Bands and straps are used interchangeably and refer to fasteners made from non-metallic materials like leather, fabric, rubber, or nylon.

Bracelets are made from metal and close with a buckle.

Let’s have a closer look at these options to help you choose a wrist accessory fit for your favorite timepieces.

The strength of metal is one of its most fantastic perks. Whether you go for metal watch bracelets made of platinum, titanium, stainless steel, or precious metals like gold and silver, you are assured of their longevity. The following are the common types of watch bracelets.


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The Oyster bracelet is like the James Bond of wrist fashion. It is a legend, first introduced in the late 1930’s by the horological wizards at Rolex. The bracelet’s iconic three-link design has remained unchanged since its first release. Oyster watch bracelets are available in various metals, including stainless steel, platinum, gold, and titanium, or a combination of different metals.


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The Jubilee bracelet is sassy with a design that strikes the perfect balance between elegance and playfulness. It was launched during Rolex’s 40th anniversary in 1945 as the brand’s flagship offering. At the time, it was only available in solid gold, although it is now manufactured in a range of single-metal combinations. The bracelet features a five-piece, semi-circular link design, making it more refined than the Oyster bracelet.


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The President bracelet is crafted with such finesse that it is considered a VIP pass to horological opulence. Released in 1956, it is Rolex’s premier bracelet designed only in platinum or solid 18k gold. It features the three-piece, semi-circular link design and is generally a careful blend of the Oyster and Jubilee bracelet design.

Compared to the Oyster, the President bracelet is swankier. It’s also an upgrade from the Jubilee design, especially if you prefer a more solid appearance. Think of it as an accessory designed to make decisive and influential power statements.


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The Engineer bracelet is crafted in precision and panache with the help of a watchmaker’s tweezers. It features a five-link design, and each link has an identical width, creating a more flattened appearance than the jubilee bracelet.

Today, numerous watch brands use engineer bracelets, although they were originally designed by Seiko. It takes the expertise of metal geniuses and skilled wrist architects to replicate this intricate chain design that often works wonders when paired with a beefy watch.

Shark mesh

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Shark Mesh straps were inspired by the sleek strength of sharks. They are an oceanic trend that became highly popular in the 1970s, thanks to the elegantly intertwined loops and links with no pins between. During their introduction, they were advertised as “shark-proof” and are, to date, considered the most appropriate straps for dive watches. Because of their chunky design, they are ideal for heavy and robust diver’s watches.


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Milanese bracelets, also known as mesh watch straps, were designed to make heads turn in Milan’s fashion streets! They have the same distinctive woven design as the Shark Mesh but are made of thinner wire, giving them a sleek and more sophisticated look. The bracelets are special because they come with some Milanese magic and have been entirely handmade since their introduction in the 13th century.

The Beads of Rice

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The Beads of Rice bracelet, first introduced in the mid-twentieth century, is a more elegant alternative to the Engineer bracelet. As the name suggests, it features a symphony of thinner whimsical links that look like rice laid side by side. The design is today a staple used by many luxury watch brands. It is believed to be the brainchild of Jacoby-Bender.

Leather watch bands

Leather watch bands are comfortable, fashionable, and versatile and are some of the most common types of watch bands. These straps are available in genuine leather, faux leather, full-grain leather, and even vegan leather. Of course, you get to choose from a wide selection of finishes, from smooth, minimalistic designs to sophisticated embossed prints.

Rally strap

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The Rally strap, as the name suggests, has a serious athletic vibe. It was originally designed as a racing watch strap, and the signature perforations were inspired by the perforations commonly seen on car pedals, seats, and steering wheels.

Rally straps are made from classic Italian leather and feature a nubuck lining underneath for enhanced comfort. Overall, the keen craftsmanship ensures each band has a snug fit to handle the twists and turns of life’s racetrack.

Bund strap

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The Federal Republic of Germany originally designed bund straps for the German Air Force during World War II. These watch bands have the classic two-piece design made from finely polished calfskin and a “bund” or protective leather backing designed to sit between your watch and wrist. The idea behind the invention is to protect your wrist in case conditions get too hot or too cold.

Pilot strap

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The Pilot watch strap is a classic with timeless aesthetics, just like luxury pilot watches. It’s a must-have accessory that can get you strapped up for a wrist-worthy adventure, whether you are looking for a dressy or casual look. These straps have a unique flat design that is practical, stylish, and comfortable for any occasion. Although most Pilot straps are made from thick leather, some are made from nylon or canvas.

Nylon watch bands

Nylon watch bands have a sporty look and can add a dash of fun to serious business timepieces. They are ideal for those of us who lead an active lifestyle. They are lightweight and often crafted using treated nylon to make them tear-resistant and tough enough to withstand extreme situations.

NATO straps

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NATO straps have a dash of military flair. They were invented by the British military in 1973 and were initially known as G10s. These watch straps have a single-piece design and were created to hold the watch firmly even if the spring bars popped off. Design-wise, NATO straps are tactfully woven to provide immense strength and durability. They are suitable for rugged outdoor adventures and can handle anything you throw at them, including dirt, water, and mud.

Zulu straps

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Zulu straps mean business. While they look pretty much like NATO watch straps, they are crafted from ballistic nylon and feature sturdier hardware. Their overall design makes them ideal accessories for rugged adventures, swimming, and working out.

Something else that stands out about Zulu straps is that they feature two to five signature keeper rings. They have a catchy rebel vibe, and it’s not hard to see why they are more than just ordinary straps.

Perlon strap

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Perlon watch straps can add that extra oomph to your timekeeping experience. They are lightweight, breathable, and tough. These straps are made from synthetic fiber that is woven into loops and locked together to form firm chains. This is one of the latest construction designs for nylon watch straps that offers impressive strength and flexibility.

Sailcloth strap

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Sailcloth straps are the nautical charmers of wrist couture. Although they are nearly similar to classic canvas bands, they are made from heavy-duty Cordura nylon, which gives them a distinct sailor’s vibe. While the Courdua nylon assures you of maximum durability, the thin layer of genuine leather inside it guarantees enhanced comfort.

Rubber & silicone watch bands

Silicon and rubber watch bands give that casual or sporty vibe. They are soft, flexible, water-resistant, dust-resistant, comfortable, and highly durable. Silicon watch bands are slightly pricier than their rubber counterparts because they are more heat-, fungi-, and chemical-resistant. Still, both options are sturdy and up for just about anything!

Tropic strap

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The Tropic strap is what you need to bring a tidal wave of style to your favorite timepieces. This aquatic watch accessory has a serious athletic vibe and was designed to handle the demands of marine activities. It’s made of silicone-free rubber, best known for its UV-resistance and hypoallergenic qualities.

Waffle strap

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Waffle straps have an undeniable vintage vibe. They are made from black rubber and get their name from the subtle tapering on the surface, which resembles the pattern embossed by a waffle iron. While immensely popular nowadays, waffle straps have quite a history and were first introduced in 1967 by Seiko.

Frequently asked questions about watch straps

What types of watch bands are there?

There are two types of watch bands: single-piece and two-piece watch straps. Single-piece watch straps, also known as NATO straps, consist of a single piece of material designed to be woven under the watch case and through the spring bars. Two-piece watch straps feature two separate bands meant to attach to either side of the watch case.

What are the straps on watches called?

The straps on watches are called bands, bracelets, or just straps, depending on their material. The most common materials for watch straps include leather, metal, nylon, rubber, and silicone.

What is the best type of watch strap?

The best type of watch strap highly depends on your preference and lifestyle. Each type sends a different stylistic statement and has unique functionality perks. For instance, while leather straps offer unmatched versatility, silicone straps are the most comfortable, while metal watch straps are the most durable.

What is the difference between a NATO and Zulu strap?

Both NATO and Zulu straps feature a single piece of material with a slip-through design. However, Zulu straps are rounder and have thicker hardware, heavy-duty loops, and oval buckles. NATO straps have slimmer bands, thinner metal hardware, and rectangular buckles with slightly rounded corners.

16 Types Of Watch Straps To Dress Up Your Favorite Timepiece (2024)
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