The humble Nato strap has likely found it’s way into most watch collections. Not only functional with it’s failsafe push through design, they have recently taken off within the fashion industry, too. With a plethora of designers now competing against dedicated strap providers, it’s difficult to grasp just where the best value is. Thankfully, I’ve stumbled upon a brand that delivers more than just value; I can comfortably say these are the best Natos I’ve come across, period.
Specialising exclusively in Nato Straps, BluShark have a handful of subcategories. Over the last few months I’ve had the pleasure of trying out 3 of the different style straps; the Original BluShark, the Orca & the alphaShark. The Original Blushark is their flagship line, featuring ballistic nylon at a thickness of 1.2mm and available with polished, brushed, PVD, gold and gunmetal hardware, as well as their ‘premium’ brushed & polished hardware.
There are roughly 30 different colours available in the Original Blushark line up, with sizes ranging from 18 – 24mm and prices starting from $15USD. Now a go to strap of choice within my collection, I sampled a 20mm Army Green Original BluShark with premium brushed hardware. Not only is this strap supple around the wrist, but it is finished impeccably. Each keeper is stitched in place with very little movement.
The buckle’s pin is rectangular, and in turn so are the sizing holes. While this may appear to be a problem for stray threads, each hole is in fact sealed, meaning there is absolutely no fraying around the edges. This is also the case when it comes to the edges of the strap. The Orca strap is very similar to the Original BluShark in appearance, but instead uses a thicker, textured 1.5mm nylon. Only available in 20 & 22mm widths with either standard or premium hardware in a brushed or polished finish, there are 7 colours to choose from, priced at $19USD.
A classic design, I opted for a 20mm ‘Bond’ grey & black striped Orca with premium brushed hardware. Again, like the Original BluShark, we find sewn in keepers and sealed holes and edges. The overall differences between the Orca & Original BluShark aren’t all that apparent, though the thicker, more robust nylon on the Orca certainly lends itself to a true tool watch, and would be my choice for serious activities where your watch & strap are likely to come under a lot of stress. The newest line up from BluShark is the alphaShark.
Although only available in 20 & 22mm widths, these straps come exclusively on deluxe hardware – premium buckles with flat, rectangular keepers, finished in your choice of brushed, polished, gold or PVD. There are currently 8 colours available, though this collection seems to be ever-growing, and they are all constructed from a high tensile strength nylon that gives off a slight sheen. Like the previous two, I opted for brushed hardware with a 20mm wide strap, this time in the Admiralty Grey. The alphaShark is almost silky to touch and feels substantial, but not bulky. As before, the keepers are sewn into place and the pin and holes are rectangular.
The edges of the strap & holes are again sealed, however I have begun to experience some fraying on these holes, which is probably due to the higher thread count on the nylon. This in itself isn’t much of an issue as it’s only slight and therefore not messy, and could probably be sealed again with a little heat. The alphaShark is marketed as an alternative to the Nato straps on offer from some luxury watch brands, but at a much more affordable price of $32USD. This is of course a significant jump up from price of the Original BluShark & Orca straps, but more than justified for the more refined style and finishing, which brings a completely new level of luxury to the watch it adorns. As I tried all three styles with premium hardware, I cannot comment on the standard hardware on offer.
The premium hardware, however, is one of my favourite features of BluShark, as it really rounds of the sense of quality that has gone into each and every design. My watches now feel even more secure due to the solid buckle and fixed keepers, and it completes the utilitarian feel of the humble Nato. Every Nato strap purchased from BluShark is covered by their BluShark guarantee, which in their own words means ‘If a buckle breaks or the nylon frays or a bolt of lightning should happen to strike it, we will exchange your strap for a brand new one whether it’s a year from now or ten years from now.’
On top of this, there is an ongoing 3 for 2 offer available, as well as seasonal discounts, which only further improve the value of the straps. Striking the right balance of style, function, service and value on any product, especially within horology, is a near impossible task, but one I think BluShark has absolutely knocked out of the park. With 3 in my current collection, I plan on adding several more BluShark straps soon, and I can only encourage you to do the same.Please don't forget to share: