Leather NATO G10 and RAF StrapsCopyright © David Boettcher 2005 - 2024 all rights reserved.
Omega W.W.W. Wristwatch Ref. CK 2444 on one of my Leather G10 Straps
The wristwatch strap that is today known as the NATO or G10 strap was created in 1908 by E. J. Pearson and Sons, a maker of harnesses and leather goods in London. Although it is usually made today in a synthetic material such as perlon or nylon, it was originally made in leather and leather G10 straps were used until at least the end of the second world war and some time after.
I can supply original style leather alternatives to the perlon and nylon NATO G10 and RAF straps for military watches. A leather strap is much more stylish and comfortable to wear than a nylon strap, and they look much more authentic on an older military watch. I keep some standard sizes in stock, other sizes can be made to order in the leather colour of your choice.
Leather straps like this fit easily onto A.T.P., G.S.T.P. and W.W.W. specification watches, which were designed with big gaps between the bars and the case to take a one piece pull through leather strap. If you are thinking of trying to fit one of these to a more modern watch, bear in mind that leather straps are thicker than Perlon or nylon and might not fit between the bars and the case of a more modern watch, see Will It Fit My Watch? for more details about this.
Stock G10 and RAF: I hold stock of some G10 Mk II and RAF straps with standard hardware in 18mm and 20mm widths and standard length in both black leather and the premium Italian dark chestnut leather. These straps are on hand ready for immediate dispatch. You can order these stock straps using the PayPal buttons further down this page at Stock G10 and RAF Straps.
The British "Army Trade Pattern" A.T.P wristwatch and "General Services Trade Pattern" G.S.T.P. pocket watch specifications emerged after World War One and governed all British Army watches used before and during World War II.
The A.T.P. wristwatches were superseded by the British War Office Specification No. R.S./Prov/4373A "Watch, Wristlet, Waterproof" or "W.W.W" specification in 1945. It is not clear whether any W.W.W. wristwatches were actually issued during the war, but it seems probably not. Twelve Swiss manufacturers were chosen to supply W.W.W. wristwatches and today collectors try to find examples from each to have a set of 12 watches. Although watches are often described as W.W.W., to be genuine a watch must have the correct W.W.W. codes engraved on the case back.
A.T.P. and W.W.W. military wristwatches had "fixed bars"; strap bars that were solid and fixed to the case. Being solid they were much stronger than a hollow spring bar. For security, fixed bars were paired with a one piece pull through strap. In that way, even if one of the bars was to give way, the watch was still securely fastened to the wearer's wrist. A two piece strap would defeat this objective. The bars of these watches were spaced away from the case so that a one piece leather strap would fit them easily. If leather straps were not intended to be used, the large gap between the case and bars would not be necessary.
The pull through G10 strap had a particular construction. The strap was made double thickness for part of its length; two separate pieces of leather one on top of the other. The two pieces were stitched together near to the buckle and the other end of the lower, shorter, piece had a loop of leather that the longer top piece pulled through. This strap was given the British Army designation “G10” in the 1970s, but I have traced the origins of its design back to 1908 from records in the British Board of Trade archives, see Origin of the G10 strap.
The picture here shows an Omega W.W.W. wristwatch on a one piece leather G10 strap which looks a lot more "period" than the modern Perlon or nylon straps these watches are usually fitted with. In the book "OMEGA – A Journey through Time" Marco Richon shows one of these watches on a two piece open ended strap. It must be an open ended strap, because bars on the watch are fixed, and it is easy to tell that it is a two piece strap because there is a noticeable gap between the bars with the ends of the strap wrapped around them and the case. This looks wrong and is totally inappropriate; for authenticity fixed bar watches should be fitted with one piece pull through straps.
Kenneth Gordon in "Zulu Time – The British Military General Service Wristwatch" (Horological Journal) says the original W.W.W. specification was for a webbing strap, khaki in colour and ‘tropicalised’ for jungle warfare use, but I think this was only for use in the tropics and normally leather straps were issued – unfortunately the specification document is lost. In an article in the Horological Journal about the Bonklip bracelet, Adrian van der Meijden and Thomas Koenig record that during WWII leather straps for both wrist watches and pocket watches were predominant in the Royal Air Force. The first RAF and FAA service wristwatch to be fitted with a metal Bonklip bracelet was the Mk11 6B/346 when it was introduced in 1949.
I have traced the origins of the NATO G10 strap back to 1908 and a design developed by E. J. Pearson and Sons from an original design by Dimier Brothers. The Pearson “Victor” strap, registered with the Board of Trade on 27 August 1908, is exactly the same as the modern G10 and NATO design. When Alfred Pearson died in 1966 at the age of 92 his obituary notice in The Times newspaper stated that Alfred “invented the watch strap as it is known and used now”, which refers to his involvement in the creation of the G10 NATO wristwatch strap in 1908.
In 1908 the British War Office did not issue wristwatches so there was no government demand for wristwatches at the time, although the utility of wristwatches had long been recognised - since the 1880s British officers had been expected to purchase their own wristwatches as part of their outfit. The first issue of wristwatches to “other ranks” by the War Office was made during World War One. There is more about this at First Military Wristwatches.
For many years Pearsons had been the largest manufacturer of watch straps in Britain and would have been the supplier of choice for the British military when wristwatches were officially issued. Pearson would have supplied their own special design of strap, the Victor, and been delighted to see it adopted as a military standard. I have no doubt that this is how the G10 design came about. The natural choice of material at the time would have been leather, just like other parts of an officer's equipment such as his Sam Browne. You can read about this in more detail at E. J. Pearson and Sons.
My RAF straps are based on originals and as close as I can get to replicating the one piece pull through leather straps that were officially issued by the RAF in the 1940s and 1950s. The major difference is that I have been unable to source nickel plated wire buckles, I have tried every supplier in the UK that I can find but they are just not made any more, so I have to use the best period looking buckles I can find.
Please Read This
If you are not familiar with my G10 and RAF designs, please read the details on this page before placing an order. If there is anything that is not clear, my page about My Designs of Vintage Watch Straps might help.
Stock straps are a length which fit most men's wrists, those between about 165mm / 6½" to 195mm / 7½" around, see Wrist Size and Strap Length for more details. If you need a longer, shorter or wider strap, or one made specifically for your wrist size, please order a made to order G10 or RAF Strap.
G10 and RAF straps other than the standard stock items are made to order. You can order using the buttons at the bottom of this page. If you want something that is not covered by the standard options, please email me your requirements.
Please note that PayPal don't refund their fee on cancelled orders so that element cannot be refunded if you change your mind and request to cancel an order.
The Omega watch in the picture above was designed for a one piece pull through strap, you can see how the horns are longer than on many watches to hold the bars away from the case so that there is a good path for the pull through strap. Modern watches with spring bars usually have shorter horns and although a thin Perlon or nylon G10 strap is OK, a thicker leather strap can be difficult to fit.
If you have a watch with bars closer to the case than the WWW watches, which means most watches made from the 1950s onwards, it is most important that you read the section Will it fit my watch?.
If you have not ordered from me before, please read down this page before ordering. If you have ordered before, you can use the short cuts to the left to jump straight to the section you are interested in. If you want to order something that is not covered by the options given in the ordering section, please email me.
NB: My leather NATO G10 and RAF style straps are not exact copies of modern Perlon or nylon straps for several reasons, so please make sure you read all the information here so that you know exactly what you are getting. I don't keep all possible NATO G10 straps in stock because the number of permutations of hardware, width and leather colour are too many for me to hold stock of all of them, so non-stock straps are made to your order. This also applies to straps made to fit your wrist size, but of course there is a short delay to dispatch while it is made.
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My Designs of G10 Straps
My leather G10 style straps are not exact copies of the standard Perlon or nylon service straps for several reasons explained below. I have two basic designs which I call "standard" and "Mark II", either of which can be supplied with standard or the heavier ZULU hardware. Both of them are shorter than the standard nylon G10 strap because a leather strap can't be folded back on itself and tucked under a keeper like a nylon strap. This means that the second keeper ring is not needed to tuck the long end of the strap into and the strap is not intended to enter the second keeper, although we make the strap up with it in place for authenticity.
I can also supply a leather NATO RAF style strap. This is like the G10 strap but doesn't have the extra layer underneath the watch, and has a leather keeper. These are described after the G10 straps. If you want to go straight to that section, click this link Leather RAF.
Standard G10 Design
When I first looked at making leather G10 straps, I thought that they could be accurate copies of the standard G10 service Perlon or nylon straps. However, the very long tail of a nylon strap is not practical in leather because leather is thicker and cannot be folded back and tucked in like a much thinner nylon strap. But the standard design of the NATO G10 strap puts the watch very close to the buckle, meaning that the buckle sits on the side of the wrist, so the keepers were moved along the strap a little to make it more wearable. However, this does mean that the keeper positions even on my "standard" G10 design are not an exact replica of a service G10 strap - but you would need a very expert eye or a tape measure to tell.
Reading from the top: 1: G10 nylon. 2: Standard G10 leather. 3: One of my Type B straps. 4: My Mark II G10 design.
My G10 straps are shorter than a Perlon or nylon G10 strap, because a leather strap can't be folded back on itself and tucked under a keeper like a nylon strap. This means that the second keeper ring is not needed to tuck the long end of the strap into, and by design the strap is not intended to enter the second keeper, although we make the strap up with the second keeper for authenticity of appearance.
G10 Mark II Design
After receiving some adverse customer comments about my standard G10 being still being uncomfortable due to the positioning of the buckle on the side of the wrist, I did a bit of thinking and designed a revised "Mark II" design that looks like the standard NATO G10 but places the watch head further down the strap so that the buckle sits under the wrist rather than to the side. I find these are much more comfortable to wear than the standard G10 design.
A customer who ordered one of my Mk. II G10 straps commented I'm not a fan of most NATOs due to the odd placement of the buckle and normally resort to having to cut the keeper off. Your strap is the first that I haven't had to do this with which means I can wear it as intended. Perfect.
Another completely different customer said My watch now looks very classy and is once again in daily use. I was never that keen on the nylon G10 strap and like yourself I hated the way the buckle ended up on the side. Your Mark II design is exactly what I was looking for.
The G10 Mk II strap is shorter than the standard Perlon or nylon G10 strap because a leather strap can't be folded back on itself and tucked under a keeper like a nylon strap. This means that the second keeper ring is not needed to tuck the long end of the strap into and the strap is not intended to enter the second keeper, although we make the strap up with it in place for authenticity.
My Mk. II G0 design is not necessarily "better" than the standard G10 design, it is just an alternative if you find the position of the buckle uncomfortable with the standard design. I can just as easily supply either design, it's entirely up to you which one you choose.
The difference between my standard and Mk. II designs and the original G10 specification is explained in more detail below.
Defence Standard (DefStan) 66-47
Drawing from Defence Standard 66-47
The basic design of the NATO G10 strap, as shown in the drawing from Defence Standard (DefStan) 66-47, calls for the positions of the metal loops to be increments of 12mm plus 25mm plus 60mm from the buckle end of the strap. This means that the watch head is held very close to the buckle. This design means that if you wear the strap what I would call the "normal" way, that is with the buckle at the top, so that the buckle passes over your wrist and the tail of the strap passes under your wrist as you put the strap on, the buckle sits on the outside of your wrist rather than underneath it. It may be OK if you are used to it from wearing a service issue Perlon or nylon strap, but I find this position of the buckle to be uncomfortable.
You can see why the standard G10 buckle sits where it does by referring to the picture above showing four straps. The top two straps are a nylon G10 and one of my leather G10s. However, these two straps are not made exactly to the DefStan specification, the position of the loops has been moved a little so that the watch head can be placed further away from the buckle, although you would be hard pressed to tell without actually measuring it.
You can see how closely the leather G10 matches the nylon - it is just made shorter to suit the individual's wrist - mine in this case - because a large excess of leather is much harder to tuck away than Perlon or nylon. However, even with this modified "standard" design I still find that the watch head is held too close to the buckle for comfort.
The third strap in the picture is one of my Type B vintage straps, and you can see how much further down the strap the watch head sits. When I wear this strap the buckle sits underneath my wrist, which is the usual place and where I find it comfortable. My revised "Mark II" design of the G10 looks as much as possible like the standard NATO G10 and uses the same hardware, it but places the watch head further down the strap so that the buckle sits under the wrist rather than to the side. I find this much more comfortable to wear than the standard G10.
Both of my "Standard" and "Mark II" G10 NATO designs can be supplied with either standard or the heavier round section ZULU hardware. You will find separate ordering buttons for the two designs below.
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Chestnut G10 with standard hardware
G10 hardware is available in types “Standard” or “ZULU”. Standard hardware is available in chrome or, in some sizes, gold plated. ZULU hardware is available in steel only.
I don't have brushed, matted or PVD finishes in either standard or ZULU hardware. I am not asked for it very often so it is not worth stocking, but if you want one of these finishes you are welcome to supply your own hardware. I have had on occasion customers buy nylon G10 straps, which are available fairly cheaply, to get the hardware that they want, which can then easily be re-used in a leather strap.
I keep G10 straps in stock in 18mm width with standard hardware in black and Italian dark chestnut. You can place an order for one one of these, or other sizes or colours to be specially made for you, using the buttons below. Right at the bottom of the page is also a list of some other stock G10 straps.
G10 Standard Hardware
My standard G10 leather straps have chrome plated steel fittings, which are shown in the picture to the right here, and also in the picture of the four straps above. Standard hardware can be made up into G10 straps in my "standard" or my Mk. II design.
The base price of G10 straps in standard leather with standard hardware is £30.00, the two Italian leathers are £5.00 more, plus postage & packing.
There is also a slightly heavier but less authentic version of the standard hardware that is available on request at no extra charge. This is shown in the image in the section about buckles.
Some sizes of G10 standard hardware are available gold plated.
Black G10 with ZULU hardware
I only have the original standard finish for G10 hardware, which suits vintage watches, I don't have modern brushed, matted or PVD finishes.
G10 ZULU Hardware
The ZULU hardware has a round cross section and is considerably heavier than the standard NATO G10 hardware. My understanding is that the ZULU hardware was designed to be stronger than the standard hardware for dive purposes as opposed to aviation. I think the two rings the end of the short strap are for extra security.
There are some pictures of an Oris Big Crown Man's Watch on a G10 Mk II strap with ZULU hardware at Oris Big Crown that give a good idea of how chunky the ZULU hardware can look.
Either of my two G10 designs, Standard or Mk. II, can be made up into straps with ZULU hardware.
Because of the extra cost of the ZULU hardware, straps with ZULU hardware are slightly more expensive at a base price in standard leather of £32.50, the two Italian leathers are £5.00 more, plus postage & packing.
I only have the original standard finish for ZULU hardware, which suits vintage watches, I don't have modern brushed, matted or PVD finishes.
Ordering G10 Straps
There are two options for ordering G10 straps;
- I keep some G10 straps made up in stock ready for immediate dispatch. These are standard length black, 18mm, and Italian dark chestnut in 18mm and 20mm widths. These can be ordered at Stock G10 and RAF Straps. Don't forget to add some postage to your order!
- If you want a different length, colour or width, or have any special requests such as contrast stitching, these are options for made to order G10 and RAF Straps Please make sure to put what your wrist measures around in millimetres in the Notes box. If you specify contrast stitching, please state the stitching colour in the Notes box too. Don't forget to add some postage to your order!
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RAF Type Straps
G10 standard, Mk II and RAF straps: For Keeper Details – Ignore Overall Lengths.
My leather RAF type straps, sometimes called a NATO RAF, are a single piece pull through strap, a bit like a G10 strap but without the extra layer of leather under the watch.
The design of my RAF style straps is based on original straps that were issued to RAF pilots during WW2 for use with wristwatches such as the reference 6B/159 and 6B/234. They have two leather keepers, one fixed and one floating, as shown in the picture. This is authentic, the straps supplied by the RAF to pilots had two leather keepers just like this. In my constant quest to improve the authenticity of my straps I had a cutter made to produce 18mm straps with authentically rounded ends as shown in the photograph above.
I am always on the hunt for more authentic buckles made from nickel plated round wire. I have contacted every supplier of buckles in the UK without success; they are just not made any more, so I have to use the best period looking buckles I can find.
Like the G10 straps, these one piece pull through straps fit period RAF and W.W.W. watches perfectly; these watches have fixed bars that were designed to take a one piece pull though leather strap for security; even if one of the fixed bars pulled out or gave way, itself unlikely, the strap remains fixed around the wrist and the watch is held to it by the remaining bar.
Because period RAF and W.W.W. watches were designed to take a one piece leather strap, they have longer horns which hold the bars further from the watch case than many modern watches and there is a wider gap between the bars and the case for the strap to pull through. If you are thinking about fitting one of these straps to a modern watch, please read the section Will It Fit My Watch? to see if the strap will pass between the bars and across the back of the case.
Like my G10 straps, the RAF straps don't have the long tail of the Perlon or nylon G10, they are a normal length sized to go around your wrist. They are a nice clean simple design that looks good and authentic with a period watch without distracting attention from it.
The default and stock design of these have the two leather keepers, one fixed and one movable, as shown in the pictures here. You may specify metal keepers like those on the G10 straps, either a single fixed or one fixed and one floating, if you prefer. There is no extra charge for this, just make a note in the “Notes” box with the PayPal button.
The base price of RAF style straps in standard leather with standard hardware is £25.00, the two Italian leathers are £5.00 more, plus postage & packing.
Ordering RAF Straps
There are two options for ordering RAF straps;
- I keep some RAF straps made up in stock ready for immediate dispatch. These are standard length black, 18mm, and Italian dark chestnut in 18mm and 20mm widths. These can be ordered at Stock G10 and RAF Straps. Don't forget to add some postage to your order!
- If you want a different length, colour or width, or have any special requests such as contrast stitching, these are options at made to order G10 and RAF Straps Please make sure to put what your wrist measures around in millimetres in the Notes box. If you specify contrast stitching, please state the stitching colour in the Notes box too. Don't forget to add some postage to your order!
There are lots of images of customer's watches on my RAF straps on the Customer's Watches page.
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G10 standard, Mk II and RAF straps
The most "period" looking buckles that I have been able to find are the ones shown in the image here. These are chrome plated and made in Italy. The straps shown here are 18mm and 20mm but other sizes area available as listed at Strap Widths.
I am always on the look out for authentic period buckles; for instance, I know that the RAF straps originally had buckles made from round section nickel wire. Unfortunately, many of the buckle suppliers that used to exist in Britain have closed down and the range of available buckle has shrunk to very small. These days buckles almost always come from overseas and period styles are not available. The buckles illustrated on this page are the most period ones that I have been able to find. If you know of a source of period buckles, please let me know.
The G10 standard strap to the left has slightly heavier section loops. These are available on request at no extra charge. The lighter loops used on the G10 Mk II in the centre are more original and authentic.
The black strap on the right is an RAF and has two leather loops, the upper one fixed, the lower floating. This is also more authentic, the straps supplied by the RAF to pilots had two keepers just like this.
You Own Buckle
If you have a buckle of your own that you want to be used, that is no problem; you can send it to me and it can be stitched into the strap as it is being made. Please contact me for details.
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Construction, Thickness and Tail Length
Perlon or nylon NATO G10 straps are made extremely long, this seems to be not only to accommodate different size wrists but also so they can be worn on the outside of clothing. The long tail is usually folded back and tucked under one of the keepers. With a leather strap this presents a problem. A leather strap the same thickness as a nylon strap would be very weak. You will see straps like this advertised as being "soft" and "flexible", which is true, but for some reason they don't also say that they are "floppy" and "weak".
I prefer to supply leather straps that will last, so my straps are made in the traditional way, from two pieces of leather glued back to back and stitched all round. The finished thickness is about 2mm.
Stitching all the way round obviously involves a cost in labour time and machinery, but it means that the two pieces of leather aren't going to come apart after a little bit of wear as can happen with cheap copies that are simply glued. Unstitched straps also stretch easily in wear. I have in the past, against my better judgement, supplied straps made from a single thickness of leather, and also straps made from two thicknesses but unstitched, but due to customer dissatisfaction I will not supply any more; as an engineer by training and at heart I prefer things made in a way that I feel comfortable with.
A leather strap of this thickness cannot be folded back on itself and tucked under a keeper like a Perlon or nylon strap, so my straps are made shorter, without the long tail of the nylon strap. This means that the second keeper is not needed to tuck the long end of the strap into, although we make up the strap with it in place for authenticity.
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Wrist Size and Strap Length
From experience I know that the standard length of my one piece pull through straps suits most men, with wrists between about 165mm / 6½" to 195mm / 7½" around, and this is the length that the stock (ready made) straps are made to. Straps can be custom made to any length (within reason) so if you have trouble finding a strap the right length, then this would be perfect for you.
NB: Making leather watch straps is not like precision machining metal; please understand that there may be a few millimetres variation in the sizes as made.
How a strap fits depends on the shape of your watch, the path the strap takes through the lugs, and also how tight you like to wear your strap. The path that the strap takes can make a significant difference to its effective length, so please make sure that you read the section about Strap Path – this is important; a significantly different path will need a different length strap.
For G10 and RAF straps that are made to order, if you send a measurement of what your wrist measures around I will make the strap to a length that should fit you well. To calculate the length I add 60mm to the wrist measurement, e.g. for a 180mm wrist I would make the leather part of the strap, i.e. not including the buckle, 240mm long, which is my standard G10 and RAF length.
Please keep thing simple and just send me your actual wrist measurement, preferably in millimetres. The best way to take the measurement is to wrap a dressmaker's flexible tape measure around your wrist at the point you wear you watch and take a reading from this, or wrap a piece of string around your wrist and make a mark with a pen where it overlaps and then measure the distance between the two marks with a rule.
Please don't try to second guess me on this and give me a measurement that you think will work better. If you take what you think is a wrist measurement from an existing strap, be aware that is different from an actual wrist measurement.
Please also make sure that you read the sections about Modern Watches at Will It Fit My Watch? and also at Long Path, because both of these factors can have a significant effect on the length of strap required.
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I can only supply straps in even millimetre widths, that is even numbers of millimetres i.e. 16mm, 18mm, 20mm etc. This is determined by the cutters we have available in the workshop, and the nature of leather. It is not worth making cutters in every millimetre size because leather just can't be cut to the sort of accuracy, it is a natural flexible material which moves slightly as it is being cut and varies in strength and flexibility across the hide. Talking measurements of +/- 0.5mm just doesn't have any real meaning.
If you are sure that your lugs are an odd millimetre size, I advise that you go for the next larger size, e.g if you measure your lugs as 17mm, get an 18mm strap. With a bit of careful threading (see note about fitting below) it will fit through: leather is a marvellous material which will squash down to fit the lugs. This looks a lot better than a narrow strap that leaves your watch slopping about from side to side.
Leather straps always get slightly narrower as you wear them, because as they stretch slightly in length, they contract in width. If you don't want the strap to go sloppy in the lugs after a few wears it is best to get one that is a snug fit.
- Steel standard G10 hardware is available in widths from 12mm to 24mm in increments of 2mm; 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22 and 24mm.
- Gold coloured / plated standard G10 hardware is available in 18 or 20mm - if you want this please order a made to order strap and put “gold hardware” in the “Notes” box.
- ZULU G10 hardware is available in 18mm, 20mm, 22m or 24mm widths in steel only.
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The ordering buttons below have options for the most popular colours, but if you want a strap in a colour not listed, then please send me an email. I can supply dark green, red, yellow, blue, white etc. as well as metallics - probably not usual for a G10, but then what do I know - you're the customer! I have supplied a NATO G10 in white and it looked rather nice. Yellow would make a striking combination with black watch.
Cognac / Chestnut Some of the pictures on this web site show an old colour cognac leather that I can't get any more (see leather if you want to read more about my constant struggles to find suitable leather) the nearest is the new version of chestnut. Some of you may remember the old chestnut that preceded the cognac; this version is a little lighter and "brighter" than the old chestnut and the cognac. I have put a picture of the current chestnut on the pictures page.
Premium Italian Leathers
I am always searching for suitable leathers and I now import the two colours of beautiful Italian leather shown on the Pictures page and at Leather. They are premium leathers, the best I have ever seen. They are much more expensive than the standard leathers so I have to charge a supplement of £5.00 for straps made from these leathers.
Straps are usually stitched with thread that matches or tones closely with the colour of the leather. However, it is possible to order straps with stitching in a contrasting colour.
Contrast stitching works quite well, although please bear in mind that the stitches on my straps are small machine made stitches and therefore that some coloured threads do not stand out particularly clearly. See the section below for why I can't supply straps with big stitches.
White stitching looks good with black leather, red with brown, light blue with the dark blue leather and black looks very good with the premium Italian brandy leather. Most colours are available, but do ask if there is a colour combination you particularly want.
There is no extra charge for different coloured stitching but you need to order a Made to Order strap and specify what colour stitching you want along with your order; use the text box for "Wrist size" to also note the colour that you want the stitching to be.
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Will It Fit My Watch?
I am often asked if a leather G10 will fit a modern watch. There is such a variation of watch case designs that I can only offer some general advice. It should go without saying that a strap needs to be the correct width to fit between the lugs.
If your watch is fitted with a metal bracelet, the lugs and bars are sometimes designed so that only a metal bracelet, and perhaps a two piece strap, will fit. You will need to take the bracelet off and examine the clearance between the case and the bars using the following information.
To assess whether your watch will take a one piece pull-through leather strap like a G10 or RAF, you need to look at the gap between the bars and the case to see if a leather strap of 2mm thickness will pass. If a 2mm thick strap won't go through, then the watch was probably designed to take a nylon strap and a thicker leather strap will not be suitable.
You also look at the path the strap must take through the lugs and across the back of the case, and make sure that it does not require sharp bends that a leather strap cannot make.
Modern Perlon or nylon NATO straps are very thin and because of this they will fit modern watch cases that leather G10 straps can't fit. Also, a modern watch may cause the strap to make sharper bends around the case and a leather G10 strap would need to be made slightly longer to allow for this.
The watch in the picture is an Omega W.W.W. supplied to the British military in the 1940s. This watch was designed to take a leather or heavy canvas webbing strap, the thin nylon NATO strap did not exist at the time. Look carefully at the part of the picture I have outlined in red - click on the picture to enlarge it to get a clearer view, and also look at the horns and lugs of this same watch shown without a strap in the picture lower down on the page.
You can see that on this watch the horns that hold the fixed bars are long and the bars are a long way from the case so that the strap can take a gently curved path through the lugs and then across the back of the case. It is easy to fit a leather G10 strap to this watch. The path the strap has to take, which is only slightly curved, means that a standard length strap fits my wrist perfectly. If the lugs make the strap take a more contorted path, then extra length may be required, see the section "Long Path" below.
Modern watches, by which I mean anything later than WW2, whether they have spring bars or fixed bars, usually have a narrow gap between the case and the bars, which is why I advise you to assess your watch carefully before trying to fit a leather G10 strap. The gap doesn't need to be as big as on the Omega W.W.W. but you do need to examine your watch carefully to see if a leather strap of 2mm thickness will pull through between the bars and the case, and also how it would need to bend to run across the back of the case.
Looking at your own watch, if there is at least a 2mm gap between the case and the lugs for the strap to pass through, and the strap does not have to make a very sharp turn, then it should be fine. Leather is a very flexible and adaptable material and once fitted will take up whatever shape it needs to as you wear it. But you do need to be able to fit it to the watch in the first place!
Vintage watches with fixed bars like the Omega W.W.W. were designed with one piece pull through leather straps in mind, so the lugs were designed to let the strap follow a gently curved path through the lugs and across the back of the watch. You can see this in the image of the Omega W.W.W. above and below.
Modern watches (by which I mean anything after the 1940s or perhaps 1950s) usually have spring bars and are designed for two piece straps or metal bracelets, and they are often more bulky due to an autowind mechanism. The bars are often placed close to and high up on the case, which makes a one piece strap take a longer path that needs to be allowed for with extra length.
Take a look at the picture of a modern watch here. This watch has a bulbous back to house the autowind rotor, unlike the Omega W.W.W. which is manually wound and has a relatively flat back. This particular modern watch will take a one piece leather strap, because the gap between the case and the bars is adequate, but the thickness of the case means that the strap path is longer than that of the Omega W.W.W. and therefore the strap needs extra length.
If the lugs of your watch are closer to the case than 2mm, or the path that the strap would have to take has very sharp bends, or right angled bends very close to the lugs, then it might not be suitable at all for a one piece leather strap. Leather is a marvellous material for watch straps but it doesn't like making sharp right angle bends.
The bottom line is that you really need to look at the watch case without a strap fitted and make a judgement about whether a piece of leather is going to fit between the bars and bend around the case, or ideally even try threading something like part of an old leather strap through one of the lugs, across the back of the case and through the other lug and see how it goes.
Spring Bars and Fixed Bars
Omega W.W.W. watch with fixed bars
Some time in the 1920s the modern design of strap attachment was designed for wristwatches. This took over from the older simple one piece wire lugs. The new design had two projecting "horns" attached to the watch case, and between these a bar was placed for the strap to attach to. There are two types of these bars, spring bars and fixed bars. Spring bars are hollow and have a spring and two pins inside them. The spring in the middle pushes the pins out of either end, and they engage in holes in the horns on the watch case. These are easy to fit and remove and usually give little if any problem. They are usually used with a two piece strap, each piece of the strap being fixed at one end to the case by a spring bar. The disadvantage with this arrangement is that if one of the spring bars breaks or comes unclipped from the horn there is nothing to hold the watch to the wrist and it can fall away and be damaged or lost.
The military decided that spring bars were not as strong and secure as they could be, so for service watches they specified solid bars that were permanently fixed to the horns. The Omega W.W.W. watch shown here, the same one as in the picture above, has solid fixed bars that are permanently attached, and they are very strong. To make the attachment of the watch to the wrist even more secure, the G10 strap was specified as discussed above. This strap goes completely around the wrist and even if one of the fixed bars comes loose for some reason, the strap and watch remain attached to the wrist. The combination of fixed bars and G10 strap makes an extremely secure fixing.
Before nylon was invented G10 straps were made of either leather or canvas webbing, both of which resulted in a strap that was considerably thicker than a modern nylon strap. If you look at the picture of the Omega W.W.W. watch here you can see how the horns have been made long so that there is a really big gap between the case and the bars. This watch case was designed to take a leather or webbing strap. Modern watches, whether they have spring bars or fixed bars, never have this size of gap between the case and the bars, which is why I advise you to assess your watch carefully before trying to fit a leather G10 strap, the gap doesn't need to be as big as on the Omega W.W.W., which is really rather extreme, but you do need to examine your watch carefully and see where the strap will run as I describe above.
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A Note About Fitting:
Fitting a leather strap to a modern watch that was not specifically designed to take a leather strap can be a bit tricky, Some modern watches have a narrow gap between the bars and the body which, although wide enough to take a leather G10, can make fitting difficult but not impossible. This is usually because the location of the lugs and the shape of the case makes the strap take a sharp bend to turn across the back of the case.
Modern watch cases also tend to have machined razor sharp edges that can damage the leather as you pull it through if you are not careful. To fit a one piece strap to a modern watch without damaging the leather you need to proceed carefully, and consider protecting the strap by wrapping it in a plastic film.
See my notes about how to tackle this here: Fitting One Piece Straps.
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Please use the PayPal buttons below to place your order. You can pay securely on line by PayPal using your credit or debit card even if you don't have a PayPal account. I can take payment in any currency, dollars, yen, whatever you like, PayPal handles the currency conversion.
Please note that I only keep a small range of leather NATO G10 straps in stock. If you want a width or colour that is not a stock item, this can be made to order; the order can be placed using the PayPal buttons further down on this page. Please allow two to three weeks for manufacture before dispatch. It usually doesn't take as long as that, but sometimes things happen so I don't like to over-promise and then disappoint. You are welcome to ask me about progress as time goes on, but I can't make the workshop work any faster, they always do their best.
These leather straps don't have the very long tail of the nylon strap and so the second keeper ring is not needed to tuck the long end of the strap into, although we make the strap up with it in place for authenticity.
Leather will harden and crack if subjected to repeated soaking in water and therefore leather straps are not suitable for swimming or diving.
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Postage & Packing
The cost of Postage and Packing (p&p) is not included in the price of the straps. I make a single charge for p&p, no matter how many straps you order. The current p&p charges are shown underneath each set of ordering buttons.
Postage & packing must be added to your order, the PayPal “shopping cart”, before checking. If you pay for p&p as a separate order, PayPal charges make it expensive for me.
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Temporarily Out Of Stock
If an item is marked Temporarily Out Of Stock it will be replenished when the next batch of straps are made, which is usually within a week or so from the item going out of stock. It is not practicable to replace straps as soon as they sell.
If a strap that you want is out of stock, you can place a pre-order so that as soon as the next batch is made, your order will be dispatched to you straight away. Please refer to the Custom Orders page for the details I need. Send these to me by email and I will send you a PayPal invoice to place the pre-order.
Stock G10 and RAF Straps
19 February 2024: A problem with the press means that no new stock or custom orders orders can currently be made.
I hold stock of G10 Mk II and RAF straps with standard hardware and in standard length in both black leather and the premium Italian dark chestnut leather. You can order these stock straps using the PayPal buttons below. Please remember to add one lot of Packing & Postage to your order.
Please note that stock straps are already made up with standard hardware and in standard length and ready to be dispatched; they cannot be customised. If you want something different, you need to order made to order G10 or RAF Strap.
These straps best fit W.W.W. watches from the era of WW2. If you have a modern watch, you need to make sure a leather strap will fit. Please make sure that you have read the section Will it fit my watch?.
Please remember that Packing & Postage (p&p - shipping and handling) must be added to your PayPal order cart.
NB: If a strap that you want is out of stock, you can order one from the made to order G10 and RAF Straps section below. This will usually work out faster than waiting for the stock to be replenished, because as soon as the strap is made it will be dispatched to you.
NB: Postage and Packing must be added to your PayPal cart before checking out. Use browser “back” button to return to this page from PayPal.
G10 Mk II
G10 Mk II
See note * below.
G10 Mk II
See note * below.
* G10 Mk II 18mm Italian Dark Chestnut I have a strap in stock that is slightly shorter than standard, 220mm leather length. If you are interested in this, please email me.
I also have three RAF straps in chestnut, standard length. If you are interested in one of these, please email me.
If you try to place an order and PayPal says the item is out of stock, please let me know so that the problem can be fixed.
Packing & Postage
Please add one Packing & Postage (p&p) charge to your PayPal cart before you checkout.
Use the “View Cart” button to see what's in your PayPal shopping cart, then return to this website to carry on adding items.
If you want a tracked airmail service, please click on this link: Tracked Airmail.
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Custom Made G10 and RAF Straps
G10 and RAF straps ordered by these buttons are made to order - allow up to three weeks for manufacture before dispatch.
Because these straps are made to order they can be tailored to fit you. See Wrist Size and Strap Length and let me know what your wrist measures around.
Please make sure that you have read the section Will it fit my watch?. These straps best fit W.W.W. watches from the era of WW2. If you have a modern watch, you need to make sure a one piece leather pull through strap will fit. If your watch has a deep case you might need the "Long path" option.
For full details of leathers and additional colours see Leathers.
Please remember that Packing & Postage (p&p - shipping & handling) must be added separately to your PayPal order cart.
A problem with the press means that custom orders orders cannot currently be made.
If you have any comments or questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch via my Contact Me page.
Copyright © David Boettcher 2005 - 2024 all rights reserved. This page updated February 2024. W3CMVS. Back to the top of the page.