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NATO vs ZULU
If you missed my previous post about NATO straps, click here to read more about it. Today, we will explore a little bit about the ZULU strap. Well a ZULU strap is just a different type of NATO strap, developed by the company Maratac. While people often confuse between these two as they look similar in design, there are significant differences between the two.
NUMBER OF NYLON LAYER
There are major differences in the design of the NATO and ZULU strap. NATO has one extra nylon layer/ section according to the requirements of the British Ministry of Defense. ZULU straps only have one long nylon layer which goes under the wrists.
NATO strap with extra nylon layer
ZULU black strap with only one layer of nylon
There is also a difference in the nylon thickness of NATO and ZULU straps. NATO is made of thinner nylon material while ZULU is typically much thicker.
Generally, the rings or the hoops of the NATO strap is thinner and has a rectangular shape at the edges. The most common material include polished brass or stainless steel. A standard Ministry of Defense NATO strap consists of two rings/hoops after the buckle and one ring at the opposite end. So in total, a conventional NATO strap has 3 rings and 1 buckle.
NATO strap with 1 buckle and 3 rings
The rings on the ZULU strap is made out of more heavy duty materials. Generally, the rings have more rounded edges and are much thicker compared to NATO rings. The most common design of ZULU strap is the 3-ring and 5- ring ZULU strap.
3-ring ZULU watch strap
5-ring ZULU watch strap
ADVANTAGES OF NATO STRAPS
Whether its NATO or ZULU straps, every person has their own preferences. We list down some of the advantages of choosing NATO
Due to its extra length, the good thing about NATO is that you can wear over your clothing. Of course, this applies to the military where some people need to wear a jumpsuit, wetsuit or other long sleeve uniforms. The extra length means that no matter how thick your uniform is, the watch strap can cover your wrists when worn over the clothing.
The extra layer of nylon ensures that the skin will never touch the metal surface of the watch. If you are like me and sweat a lot, this is very good. Nylon is good at absorbing moisture and does not leave an uncomfortable sticky feeling as compared to leather or other straps.
The NATO is designed to move the buckle/ tang away from the underside of the wrists. If you noticed on a traditional two-piece strap, the buckle will always go under the wrists when you lock the strap. This is bad for soldiers as the buckle will easily be caught up to clothing or weapons.
Picture courtesy of @yonsson from forums.watchuseek.com
The NATO is designed in such a way that if one of the spring bars on the watch fails, it will keep the watch case in place. This is good as you don’t have to worry about it falling off.
Picture courtesy: www.teeritz.blogspot.com
The disadvantages of NATO is that you will have at least minimum of 3 layers of nylon wrapping around your wrists. To some people, it can feel a bit uncomfortable having so many layers of nylon. However, NATO is thinner in material, so, for the most part, there aren’t any complaints about too much layer of nylon.
Whether you like nylon or Zulu, at the end of the day choose the most suitable and comfortable strap for you. If you are looking to upgrade the looks of your old watch, click here to see a wide variety of NATO and ZULU straps. Special thanks to @JML from https://forums.watchuseek.com/f222/nato-vs-zulu-strap-464508.html for giving us in detail comparison between NATO and ZULU.