What is the Difference between a RAF strap and a Nato Strap?
First to answer that question we should look at what the acronym RAF and Nato stand for. These types of Nato and RAF straps were originally developed by the Ministry of Defense in Britain for the military forces. The MOD or Ministry of Defenses set guidelines for their suppliers to produce nylon straps to create a fair product comparison between the suppliers. The term NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Orginization, while RAF stands for Royal Air Force.
The MOD felt that the RAF strap should be able to simply slide around the watch spring bars and hug the watch case. The RAF Strap is a long (usually around 250mm) single piece of nylon that usually uses either two steel keepers or a fabric keeper. An RAF strap is supposedly exactly what James Bond wore in the early James Bond movies. While the NATO strap is made of he exact same nylon the end design is quite different. It is actually two pieces of nylon that look together, using a square steel keeper or loop. On one side the watch is held but one of the long pieces of nylon, while the other acts as a stop so that watch cannot move around on your wrist. This design is much more complicated but is designed so the watch simply stays in one place and does not move. Both straps are very popular in watch culture today, but the NATO seems to having a larger following and the MOD seems to purchasing a lot more of them... at least that is what we here from our UK suppliers. Below you can see the actual specs from the MOD hand book about the NATO strap. We offer the exact strap designed for and sold to the MOD in the UK.
The straps are extremely similar in look and have an incredible heritage in British history. The long length of both is to ensure a wide range of wrist sizes can be accommodated by a single strap length. Also the long length can allow the watch to be worn over flight suit/wet suit sleeves. The Military world recognizes the NATO and the RAF straps as standard issue military gear with every timepiece! We carry the highest quality products for your watch needs. Check our our Phoenix Straps LTD line here: https://www.luxwatchstraps.com/collections/nylon-nato-straps