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

Watches are one of those accessories that serve multiple purposes.  They help you keep track of time, but can also complete the look of an outfit.  Each watch gives off a different vibe, and the watch band plays a huge role in its overall aesthetic.  Here are just a few of the many types of bands out there, and some tips on the best ways to wear them.

Classic Leather


Probably the most common watch band is the leather band.  Its standard design makes it easy to dress up or down.  The neutral colors (black, brown, tan) make them great for daily wear while the more complex styles (python, crocodile, etc.) work well for fancier occasions.  You can wear a leather band with anything from jeans and a t-shirt to a suit and tie, which is great for transitioning from day to night.  One thing to keep in mind about leather bands is that they need to be taken care of because they can be ruined if they get wet or are exposed to extreme temperatures.  So just be mindful of that when you’re wearing them.  

Our pick: Black/Silver Leather, MVMT $100

Contrast Stitching


This watch band style is a simple way to add some detail to your watch’s 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 eye-catching 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

Another type of band is the double ridge strap.  The ridge effect is done using 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.  It’s also the band to wear if you’re going for a sportier look. 

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



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  The watch’s distinctive perforations were originally made so that the watch was breathable for racetrack drivers, but today it’s all about the aesthetics.  This is a great band to wear in the summer because the cut outs make for great airflow and enable the band move with your wrist better.

Our pick: Rally Racing Sport, Tech Swiss $15



This type of watch band is made of nylon and comes in a plethora of designs and colors.  Originally used in the military, the perks of this band style include its price, durability, and water resistance.  This band gives off a more preppy look, but is still simple with its slip-through design.  Since there are so  many options design-wise, you are bound to find a band that works well with whatever outfit you’re wearing. 

Our pick: Weekend Fairfield, Timex $60



Similar to the NATO strap, but a bit more rugged, the Zulu strap is made with either nylon or leather.  It is thicker and has more bulky stainless steel detailing.  These bands look good with larger watches and work for more casual occasions or for when you need a timepiece that’s as durable as it is good-looking.

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



Also known as the bracelet strap, this watch band has many different options in terms of material (stainless steel, gold, titanium, wood).  When worn right, it can be more fancy than a leather watch. Wear it to occasions like a nice dinner, an interview, or to work.  There are a few different types of link bands including: 

  • Oyster (top left): a classic band and the most popular type of link strap.  It’s thick center link makes it durable with few breaking points.  This band is three links in width, making it more stiff than other types of link bands.  This type of band can also be made out of wood for a more casual and unique look.
  • President (2nd from left): similar to oyster link with the same three-link width, but has more individual links overall because the links are shorter in length.  This band is not as durable, but is more formal than the oyster style.  
  • Jubilee (2nd from right): 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 (right): a chunky band that is five large links in width.  The links are sometimes angular and this band tends to be on the heavier side.

Our pick: Time Teller, Nixon $100

Aviator (Pilot)


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

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



The Bund strap was also invented for pilots.  Their purpose, however, was to protect the pilot’s wrist from getting burned in the case of a fire.  The extra layer of padding underneath the back of the watch is what does this.  These straps are great if you don’t want to have direct contact with the watch itself.  But keep in mind that they are on the bulkier side and are quite warm, so they are not for everyone.  

Our pick: Bund Strap, Feit $180



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

Our pick: Taft Street, Timex $60


There are countless watch band options out there.  Some types of bands work better for certain occasions than others, but the beauty of a nice watch strap is that it can, more often than not, be styled several different ways. Experiment with interchangeable straps until you find some you like and that you’re comfortable in.