man wearing watch with upgraded band

A Gentleman’s Guide to Watch Bands & Straps There's no easier way to upgrade your timepiece than with a well-chosen watch band

When asked for the time, most of us take a quick glance at our smartphones instead of a watch. However, the timepiece isn’t going anywhere. Watches aren’t just functional — they’re fashionable too.  Whether it’s a piece you wear every day or something you only bring out for special occasions, it’s something every man should have in his wardrobe. The band plays a huge role in a watch’s overall look — that’s why we’re focusing on that particular piece.  Here are just a few of the many types of bands out there, and some tips on the best ways to wear them.

Table of Contents

Classic Leather

Basic Leather Watch Band
Leather Watch Bands

Samsung Electronics Hybrid Leather Silicone Watch
Band Strap Medium/Large, for Galaxy Watch 4 and
Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

Leather from the Outside and Silicone from the inside for comfort and durability

The most common choice is the leather band, without any bells and whistles. Its classic design makes it easy to dress up or down. Leather looks equally great at the office as it does at a more formal occasion like a wedding. Neutral colors like black, brown, or tan are great for daily wear while the more complex styles like a python or crocodile make for a more elevated look. Just like any other leather product, your watch band will need some care. They can be ruined if they get wet or are exposed to extreme temperatures, so be mindful when you’re wearing them.

Contrast Stitching

Contrast Stitching Watch Band
Contrast Stitching on Watch Band

Black Rubber Silicone Watch Band
with Contrast Stitching

rubber silicone band

double loops, water resistant rubber silicone band

This watch band style uses the added detail of contrast stitching to create an eye-catching look.  The detail comes from the contrast in color between the watch band and the stitching.  Go for watch bands with starkly contrasting stitching, like black and white, for the most impactful look.  Wear this band with an outfit that has distinct contrasting colors, to reflect the aesthetic of the watch, for an ensemble that’s visually intriguing.

Our pick: Rotary, World of Watches $100

Double Ridge Strap

Double Ridge Strap

19mm Kreisler Med.Brown Retro Sport Double
Ridge Pad Leather Mens Band Reg BOGO!

This is a beautiful great quality watch band

It will make your watch look brand new again!

The double ridge strap adds some texture to the leather band. The ridge effect is created with padding under the watch’s leather. This subtle detail goes a long way in elevating your overall ensemble. This style of watch band looks great with a square-faced watch and will give your watch a sportier look.

Our pick: Professional Calf Leather Watch Strap, Hirsch $66


Zulu Watch Band
Rally Watch Band

Armogan Genuine Suede Rally Perforated
Leather Watch Strap

High quality perforated Suede leather

Explore new horizons for your watch with the Armogan strap collection. 

On more casual days, switch things up with a rally watch band.  The watch’s distinctive perforations were originally made so that the watch was breathable for racetrack drivers — but today it’s all about the look.  This is a great band to wear in the summer because the cutouts allow for some airflow and enable the band to move with your wrist better. You’ll be able to avoid any sweating or chaffing.

Our pick: Rally Racing Sport, Tech Swiss $15


Nato Watch Band
NATO Watch Band

Nato Watch Band Nylon Zulu 24mm Replacement for Suunto Core Essential Textile Weave Strap
Canvas Kit Adapter Screw Tools

Nato Watch Band Nylon

The watch band made of premium textile nylon

The NATO watch band is made of nylon and comes in a plethora of designs and colors.  Originally used in the military, this band style is valued for its price, durability, and water resistance. If you’re doing anything active or near the water, this is the style you want on your wrist. This band gives off a preppy vibe but is still simple with its slip-through design.  Since there are so many options design-wise, you’re bound to find a band that works well with your style.

Our pick: Weekend Fairfield, Timex $60


Zulu Watch Band
NATO Watch Band

Slip Through Military Style Zulu Watch Strap

Waterproof Ballistic Nylon

A smooth finish and soft touch make our nylon watch strap comfortable for all day wear

This timepiece that’s as durable as it is good-looking. The Zulu strap is the older brother of the NATO band. Made of either nylon or leather, it’s usually thicker and has stainless steel detailing. These bands look good with larger watch faces and are best for casual occasions.

Our pick: Infantry Military Army Sport Quartz Wrist Watch, Amazon $25

Link Watch Band
Link Watch Band

Daniel Wellington Iconic Link Watch, Rose Gold
or Silver Stainless Steel Link Bracelet

A Modern Take on a Classic Design

Butterfly clasp for easy fastening and release

Also known as the bracelet strap, this watch band is a more formal style. A major pro of this watch band is the different options in terms of material — stainless steel, gold, titanium, and wood are all popular. Not only are there a plethora of materials, there are also a few different takes on the link styles. Here are a few different styles:

  • Oyster: A classic band style and the most popular type of the link straps. This band is three links in width, making it stiffer than other types of link bands.  Its thick center link makes it durable with few breaking points.
  • President: Similar to the oyster link with the same three-link width, but has more individual links overall because the links are shorter in height.  This band is not as durable but is more formal than the oyster style. You’ll also get more movement due to the greater number of links
  • Jubilee: This band is comprised of three narrow links in between thick, matte-finished side links.  It can sometimes come two-toned, adding some formality to this style.   
  • Engineer: A chunky band that is five links in width.  The links are sometimes angular and this band tends to be on the heavier side. This style has a more utilitarian look while the weight keeps it formal.

Our pick: Time Teller, Nixon $100

Aviator (Pilot)

Aviator Watch Band
Aviator Watch Band

DASSARI Aviator Pilot Leather Quick Release
Watch Band Strap with Silver Rivets

pilot style watch band by DASSARI

Features stainless rivets and matching buckle

Aviator bands were made popular during World War II.  Although their design has been altered over the years, the distinctive features have remained the same. Aviator bands are made of leather and have large rivets below the lugs.  They were made to be able to fit over a pilot’s jacket so that they wouldn’t fly off of their wrist.  These bands usually come a bit larger than other bands and look best when worn with pilot watch faces.  

Our pick: Aviator 699 Alligator Embossed Watch, Gilt $89


Bund Watch Band
Bund Watch Band

Strapseeker Percy Bund Classic Vintage 2-Way
Bund Leather Watch Strap

Percy Bund Military Leather Watch Band

Our watch band is perfect to achieve that vintage, classic look.

The Bund strap is a style that was also invented for pilots.  Their purpose is even more functional than telling time. With an extra layer of padding underneath the back of the watch, they’re meant to protect the pilot’s wrist from burns in the case of a fire. This band may not be the most practical choice since they’re on the bulkier side and are quite warm.

Our pick: Bund Strap, Feit $180


Rubber Watch Band
Tropic Watch Band

Seiko Original Rubber Watch Band 22mm Divers
Model and Genuine Seiko Spring Bars

Genuine Seiko original equipment

Genuine Seiko original equipment 

The Tropic band is the first rubber watch band that was ever released.  It has a unique texture, great breathability, and a slim profile too. This style is popular among the diving community, but also for anyone else looking for a durable, water-resistant watch.

Our pick: Taft Street, Timex $60

Watch and Learn

Whether it’s something you save or splurge on, your watch is a reflection of you. Sporty and rugged or formal and refined — it’s all in the band you choose. Experiment with interchangeable straps until you find some you like and that you’re comfortable in.     

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