Three Straps That Totally Changed My Aquadive, Echo-Neutra, And NOMOS Glashütte Watches
Recently, I spoke of my admiration for Forstner bracelets. My newfound love for flipping my watches from one band to another on the regular goes beyond a single brand, though. In fact, over the past year since I joined Fratello, I’ve taken to consuming straps like McDonald’s used to consume plastic straws. As a result, I’ve started wearing three brands I want to share with you today, along with a few snaps of the watches I wear them on and how the new straps have changed the watch head’s character entirely.
As I said, I love Forstner. You can check out my effusive write-up on the Komfit, Klip, and Flat Link bracelets here along with some images of the watch heads I wear on those three styles. Here, I’m focusing on straps (both rubber and fabric) that I find incredibly comfortable and visually transformative. There are tons of styles available from the three brands here, and limitless customization options offered by all three also.
Never be afraid to get in touch with these artisanal makers. These businesses are, for the watch industry, at least, uncommonly customer-focused. They want you to be happy because, well, you’re their brand’s best ambassador! So go and grab your least comfortable watch and hold it while you read this article. Hopefully, you’ll stumble across some inspiration. Read on and let your imagination run wild!
Erika’s Originals saved my Aquadive from a life in the box
If you’re a seasoned member of the Fratelli, you might also have come across my 2020 review of the Aquadive 100 GMT Poseidon Limited Edition dive watch. In that review, I mentioned how the sweet-smelling Isofrane strap was not to my liking. I loved the color. I love the style. However, it was simply too bulky and stiff for a 16.5cm wrist like mine. I mooted the possibility of getting my hands on an Erika’s Originals strap as an alternative. Erika was kind enough to send me one, which you’ll be able to see in action within this very write-up.
This strap literally saved the Aquadive 100 GMT Poseidon Limited Edition from a life in the box. It was the very first time I’d worn a strap of this style. Prior to trying it on, I must say I was “optimistically skeptical”. I imagined that the theory would be better than the practice, but, as you’ll know by now, I’ve made a career out of being wrong and then acting all surprised about it.
Wow! I was wrong again. This set-up actually works. The elasticity of these straps, which is what really makes them so appealing from a comfort perspective, doesn’t detract from the aesthetic quality as I feared it might. Honestly, I was concerned that these bands would either look too cheap for a luxury watch head or refuse to stay at the size you set them to. Neither concern was well-founded.
Surprisingly suave out of the box
Now, I’ve not worn this strap for very long at all and I haven’t subjected it to the brutal environment one might expect the strap of a utilitarian dive watch like this to be subjected to, so I can’t say for sure that they retain their aesthetic appeal after being dragged through miles of mud and/or dirty water, but from the testimonies of my teammates, they remain more than functional after months of continuous (and occasionally abusive) wear.
That is heartening because I found myself feeling that were that the case, this strap style might well be the perfect balance between form and function. Now, I’m not saying this is a formal star by any means, but it does appear to me to be far suaver than an equally priced NATO it ZULU and is available in plenty of color variations to keep the dapper gent satisfied.
…an unhealthy addiction to yellow…
Particularly tempting was the black and gray colorway I opted for (along with the custom-engraved buckle, crowing about the water-resistance of the timepiece it secures to my wrist). Erika offered me a line of yellow to coordinate with the watch head itself. I was concerned that might be too much of a good thing, however. I won’t force that kind of restraint on everyone (although I will force it on my colleague Dave Sergeant, who has an unhealthy addiction to yellow — ask him; he won’t deny it), so if you think I bottled it, you can right that wrong when you pick one up for yourself. Seriously, with the buckle customization options, I think these are a real treat at under €100.
Yellowdogwatchstraps turned this NOMOS Club into a tough guy
Many of you will know I am a dedicated NOMOS Glashütte fan, having worked for the company for three years. Featured here, is the NOMOS Glashütte × Ace Jewelers Club Campus Amsterdam — a watch I had a hand in designing and bringing to market. Despite my involvement with its release, however, I always felt its gritty, urban character needed something a bit edgier strap-wise. Thankfully, yellowdogwatchstraps from the UK sorted me out with a fully custom tropic rally strap pictured here.
Now, this is a weird one, I know. My girlfriend (also a former NOMOS employee and dedicated Tangente wearer herself) thinks I’ve ruined the Club by wearing on this strap. I disagree. She thinks NOMOS Glashütte watches are only about that cool, superior, academic style for which they are best known. I disagree. I think that NOMOS has it within itself to be edgy. You just need to dress it up in the right way.
There is a timelessness — a genuineness — about it…
Let me try and find a real-world example. A NOMOS watch on a shell cordovan strap is a bit like Sir David Attenborough. It is smart. It is universally respected. There is a timelessness — a genuineness — about it that makes you feel safe. Would you buy one? Sure. Would you wear it to a fistfight with the rival debate team? No. You probably wouldn’t.
My arch-nemesis rears his pretty head again
Here’s a curveball for you: in my opinion, this NOMOS Glashütte Club on this yellowdogwatchstraps rubber rally/tropic strap is a bit like Professor Brian Cox.
It takes a lot for me to say this because Professor Brian Cox is my sworn mortal enemy. He doesn’t know this. He certainly wouldn’t care. But for years now, I’ve been convinced that the only reason I am not surrounded by beautiful women at all times, is because they are all flocking to Prof. BC instead.
This nemesis situation arose when one of my friends pointed out that despite being a renowned poindexter, Professor Brian Cox is almost universally desired by women and about 35% of men. This former friend of mine went on to point out that, in this context, Professor Brian Cox reminded him of me, except, and I quote, “desirable.”
…you wouldn’t leave him alone with your mother, wife, or sister.
Ever since that moment, I’ve regarded the widely adored Professor as my nemesis. Despite this, however, I still respect him. I also think he would, despite being unabashedly intellectual, look pretty good in a leather jacket. Now, I’m not saying you would choose Brian Cox to be your second in a bare-knuckle boxing match, but what I am saying is that you wouldn’t leave him alone with your mother, wife, or sister. And that’s exactly how I feel about this NOMOS Glashütte Club Campus now that it’s traded-in its famous lug-gap for a gritty, rubber rally ZULU.
This Zulu Alpha strap accentuates the tool-vibe of the Echo/Neutra Averau
Alrighty then, let’s get back to reality and leave Brian Cox and his annoyingly affable face where it belongs. Finally, the third watch to get the strap treatment was my Echo/Neutra Averau. This is one of the better models to make it through the Kickstarter gauntlet in recent years and it actually came on a really nice, cognac brown leather strap that probably didn’t deserve to be shelved in favor of this no-nonsense webbing number from Zulu Alpha. But what can I say? I’m a rugged kind of guy. The smart-casual vibe of the cognac leather was brilliant in its own way. Regrettably for it, however, I always wear socks and like my coffee in a flask, not one of those cups you need a WOSTEP qualification and a pair of tweezers to pick up.
Instead, I prefer the, quite frankly indestructible presence of the Zulu Alpha. I took it in all black and got a couple of flag keepers. I went with the US flag and the British Navy along with plain black so I could chop and change my allegiance as necessary. What really sets this strap apart from its peers is the quality of the material.
Made to be used and abused
A lot of webbing straps feel flimsy on the wrist. Many are concerningly shiny and fray at the edges quickly. These straps from Zulu Alpha are made to be used and abused. The webbing is so thick, I could quite easily imagine being able to pull a car with it. Assuming I could pull a car in the first place…
I’ve had many, many “luxury” fabric straps on my wrist. It is true that some feel more refined, more opulent, more elegant out of the box than this one does. It is gruff, serious, completely unabashed by what it set out to be and, quite crucially, is. These straps have been designed to be worn by field operatives, by professionals, by soldiers, workmen, paramedics, and the like. They are durable, washable, and have your back when you need a strap to have it most.
The fastening format takes a while to get used to and it will not be for everyone. The way the strap sits takes some getting used to. At first, I wasn’t sure if it worked on my slim wrist. However, I did get used to it (and come to love the feeling of security it provided). I would recommend these for larger wrists, though. Anything 18cm and above will get the most out of these straps. So, if your wrist fits the bill, I would fully support you taking a Zulu Alpha band for a spin. The brand does some sweet limited straps and isn’t afraid to experiment with more daring colors than the black I went for. Check out the products here and let us know what you think of them, and the other two straps discussed in this article in the comments section below.