NATO Strap Buyers Guide

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dshap
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NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by dshap » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:28 pm

I put together this NATO strap buyers guide to help DWCers figure out the differences between the many NATOs out there, and understand the key differences between them, because there are important differences. Today we're going to look at straps from Maratac, DMH, Timefactors and TSS Watchworx, but if I get more straps in the future, I'll update this guide.

(From top to bottom: TSS Watchworxs, Timefactors, Maratac, DMH)
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Material

Maratac- This is probably my favorite material overall. I can't measure this, but I think it is not as thick as the DMH strap, but thicker than the TSS and TF straps. The strap has a very soft and smooth feeling, yet it holds its shape well and creases and bends work their way out better than the TF and DMH straps.

Timefactors- This strap has the most unique material out of the group, and I don't know if there are any NATOs on the market that are similar in this respect. The most noticeable aspect of the material of the other 3 straps are a parallel weave, but the TF strap has a different weave and is more "textured". It's hard to described the difference, and you're best looking at the pics to see it, but TF has different tactile feel to it. I'm not going to say it's better or worse than anything else, but I can see how some people would prefer it. One negative about the material is that it deforms easier and does not smooth out as well, not that this is a problem on the wrist.

TSS Watchworx- This is the thinnest, but also stiffest strap. It holds its shape and smooths out well, and is comfortable, though maybe slightly less so than the other straps, which are more flexible. I think this material will hold up better than the others and is best suited for heavy use. The seller claims it is made from a ballistic nylon that will not stretch when wet and is fast-drying.

DMH- This is my least favorite material. It is the thickest, but it does not smooth out as well as the Maratac or TSS straps. It also does not feel as nice as the others when you rub your fingers on it, but it is comfortable on the wrist.



Construction

Maratac- The nylon is both ultrasonically welded and stitched, and I have extreme confidence in the integrity of the construction. The holes are very well made, and you heat has sealed them up on the undersides, which keeps the top of the strap looking neat. As you can see in the pic, there is a bit of fraying if you look very closely, but this is very minor and doesn't make me worry about the strap holding up well.

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Timefactors- This is the only strap that is not stitched- it is only welded (I believe this follows the original MoD specs). Welding could probably be as secure as stitching if it is done right (and I have no reason to believe the it isn't in this case), but I would rather see stitching as well. I wouldn't hesitate to wear this strap due to the lack of stitching, but in a situation like diving where strap failure could result in the watch plummeting to the bottom of the ocean, I would not use this strap. The holes are very well done, and there is no noticeable fraying. If the welding holds up, this strap should have a long life.

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TSS Watchworx- This strap is constructed the best in some ways, and the worst in others. The holes are the best out of the group, and they are not going to fray and will hold up very well due to the laser-cut, heat-sealed process. This process created a shiny donut around each hole, which does not bother me, but some people may not like the look. The strap is stitched as well as welded (or maybe glued?), and here there is a problem. The stitching is fine, but the welding or gluing is inferior. At the seam on the end of the short piece of strap, the weld/glue is beginning to come undone. The strap is ok now, but this issue would be the thing that eventually does the strap in.

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DMH Strap- I am least happy with the construction of this strap. As you can see in the pic, the fraying around the holes is clearly the worst here, and it is noticeable with looking closely. The stitching around the other seams has a bit of fraying, unlike the other 3 straps. The seams are stitched and welded, and while they should hold up well, they look sloppy due to the fraying. I'm also slightly concerned that the hole I use will eventually tear open, but this would probably takes years of use.

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Hardware

The hardware of these 4 straps is all of similar quality, and the only real differences are aesthetic. The Maratac has brushed hardware, and is the only strap to have a buckle signed with the manufacturers name. I believe each strap is only available with the hardware finish you see here: the Maratac is brushed, the TF is bead-blasted, the DMH is polished, and the TSS is PVD. It's strange that the TSS is only available with PVD hardware, but that's the case.
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Fit & Length

Here is where I think we find the most important differences between the straps.

(From top to bottom: TSS Watchworxs, Timefactors, Maratac, DMH)
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Maratac- This strap is about 305mm in length and should be long enough to fit just about anyone. But now we get to my one complaint about the strap: the fit. Look at how the strap fits on the 6'oclock side- notice the large gap there? The Maratac does not fit very flat against the wrist, and this is due to the spacing of the hardware (you can see how they are all slightly different, especially the Maratac, in this regard in the pic above)

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Timefactors- This strap is 280mm in length, 25mm less than the Maratac and DMH straps, and this makes a big difference. Notice how when I fold the tail over, it will not reach to the second ring. This bothers me, and I sometimes hold the tail under itself because of this. It lays pretty flat on the wrist- not as flat as the TSS, but not as bad as the Maratac. My wrist is almost 7.5 inches, and if yours is bigger I do not recommend buying this strap.

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TSS Watchworx-
This is another short strap, but it lays the flattest on the wrist, which I like a lot. Like the TF strap, the tail will not reach the second ring, so I sometimes fold the tail under itself. Again, my wrist is almost 7.5 inches, and if yours is bigger I do not recommend buying this strap.

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DMH Strap- This strap is the same length as the Maratac (about 305mm), and will fit a wrist of 7.5 or larger well. It lays about as flat as the TF strap, and overall has the best fit of the group. Fit is category in which this strap excels.

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Conclusion

If I had to pick a "best" NATO, I would probably say the Maratac wins. I like the material, construction and hardware finish better than the others, but the fit of the strap (the large gap at the 6o'clock lug that prevents it from laying flat on the wrist) really annoys me. If the TF was longer, I would like it a lot more, and it may be a good choice for those of you who have smaller wrist than me. The TSS strap is the perfect choice is you want PVD hardware and have a smaller wrist than me, but if you don't meet either of these conditions it may not be good for you. The DMH strap is the toughest to rate. It fits very well, but the construction and material are not as good as the others.



Pricing

Maratac- $12.00
Timefactors- £8.00 (about $12.80)
TSS Watchworx- £10.95 including S&H (about $17.50)
DMH- $12.00 including S&H


Note on DMH Straps- Besides the Gray shown here, I also have a Black/Tan Bond, and a Real Bond from DMH. The Gray and Black/Tan are the same length, but the Real Bond is 285mm, 20mm shorter. The material of each strap is different (this is not the case for the 3 other manufacturers), so if you order something other than the Gray strap, I don't know if it will have the same qualities as the strap I reviewed here.
-David

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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by polaco23 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:34 pm

great write-up!

i also think the maratac is the best one ive ever used. i prefer the 4 ring zulu straps for their beefier hardware and thicker straps, but the nato's do fit on some watches where the zulu's wont go.

Also, what is that watch on your wrist? it looks sweet from the side.
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by ezcheese » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:36 pm

Damn David, that's a great writeup. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. :clap:
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by dshap » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:37 pm

polaco23 wrote:great write-up!

i also think the maratac is the best one ive ever used. i prefer the 4 ring zulu straps for their beefier hardware and thicker straps, but the nato's do fit on some watches where the zulu's wont go.

Also, what is that watch on your wrist? it looks sweet from the side.
Precista PRS-14

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-David

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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by dshap » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:38 pm

ezcheese wrote:Damn David, that's a great writeup. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. :clap:


I have to make a useful post every once in a while :lol:
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by polaco23 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:42 pm

dshap wrote:
ezcheese wrote:Damn David, that's a great writeup. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. :clap:


I have to make a useful post every once in a while :lol:

youre good for the rest of the month now! :grin:
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by matt.wu » Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:10 pm

Maratac is my all-time favorite by a mile. Good post, Dave. :thumbsup:
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by DMB » Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:00 pm

I've owned/own a ton of Maratac NATOs and ZULUs. By far, they are the most durable and well constructed IMO. They seem to have more of a nylon feel. The only downside for me, is that I prefer the hardware to be spaced a bit farther apart, like on the Timefactors strap. I had one but sold it to Chris with my Searambler. I recently bought a few NATOs from GNOMON. THey feel much more vintage, and actually smell like an old canvas Army tent. They are thinner, and shorter than the Maratac, but the hardware is spaced a bit farther apart like the Timefactors NATO. Other companies have some better selections, but Maratac is probably gonna be the best as far as quality and durability.
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by justsellbrgs » Sat Oct 16, 2010 4:08 pm

good stuff Dave...

I'll go through mine and see if I might be able to add. I gave gnomon, TF, DMH, and the leather altstraps.


i'll PM you with any info if that is OK..... I don't want to jack this top notch thread.

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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by dshap » Sat Oct 16, 2010 4:15 pm

justsellbrgs wrote:good stuff Dave...

I'll go through mine and see if I might be able to add. I gave gnomon, TF, DMH, and the leather altstraps.


i'll PM you with any info if that is OK..... I don't want to jack this top notch thread.

john

Sure thing :cheers:
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by SCM64 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:56 pm

Excellent post. :cheers:
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by ChesterDogg » Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:20 pm

This is information that is worth keeping whether stickied or archived. Congrats on a wonderful job.
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by randyswagon » Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:29 pm

. . . thanks for doing the homework!!!! Being a newb to these straps, you saved me ton of trial and error. My wallet is deeply in gratitude . . . . :cheers:
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by CGSshorty » Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:33 pm

Great post David. I prefer 2 ring Zulu straps because I hate all the extra hardware and folded strap. How about a Zulu comparison next?
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by patstarrx » Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:55 pm

:raised:
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by dshap » Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:46 am

CGSshorty wrote:Great post David. I prefer 2 ring Zulu straps because I hate all the extra hardware and folded strap. How about a Zulu comparison next?


I'm not a big Zulu fan, and only have 1 strap (and I don't even know where it's from).
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by giosdad » Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:54 am

Great write-up Dave.

I have a timefactors strap and was wondering how people with large wrist can wear it as it seems so small to me.
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by dshap » Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:04 am

giosdad wrote:Great write-up Dave.

I have a timefactors strap and was wondering how people with large wrist can wear it as it seems so small to me.


I forgot to mention this in the article, but I found it interesting that both the British straps were significantly smaller than the American straps? What does this say about Brits? Are they a nation of Wu-like wrists? :think:


:lol:
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by matt.wu » Sun Oct 17, 2010 1:32 pm

dshap wrote:
giosdad wrote:Great write-up Dave.

I have a timefactors strap and was wondering how people with large wrist can wear it as it seems so small to me.


I forgot to mention this in the article, but I found it interesting that both the British straps were significantly smaller than the American straps? What does this say about Brits? Are they a nation of Wu-like wrists? :think:


:lol:
:tap:

No, it means they don't have big, fat American wrists.

:tap:
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by bigolac » Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:25 pm

Excellent work - thanks.

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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by T.R. » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:37 pm

Very, very sweet post. :clap: :clap: :clap: Quite well done. :salute:

I have a couple of Maratacs and when I'm going nato/zulu I like them. Durable as hell.
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by aikiman44 » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:45 pm

Great post, David. :thumbsup:
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by toxicavenger » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:58 am

Dave, great post bro!

Here are two straps that I have right now. The tan/black I got with my Seiko MM from Chris so I don't know who makes it. The Rhino of course is from timefactors. Now the Rhino is a beast compared to the other one and it is super rugged. I do think the Rhino patch is kind of gay on it but honestly I am not sure if I like Nato's or not. :scratch: Well here are a few pics.
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Thanks again Dave for your thought out post! :thumbsup:

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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by mattcantwin » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:30 am

Thanks, Dave, I'll be checking back to this often! :thumbsup:
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Re: NATO Strap Buyers Guide

Post by Tallguy » Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:16 am

Another source worth checking out: http://www.natostrap.com/Home/Home.html

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