Exploring the Best Summer Watch Straps

From rubber and nylon to canvas and stainless steel, there’s something for everyone!
Exploring the Best Summer Watch Straps
April 23, 2024
Exploring the Best Summer Watch Straps

Image Credits: Respective Brands

As summer’s here, it's time to reexamine your watch strap style and comfort. No longer just an accessory, your watch becomes a crucial part of your summer ensemble, melding style with functionality under the blazing sun. In this comprehensive guide, we'll examine the coolest strap materials that can indeed elevate your summer wristwear game.

Rubber Straps

The integrated coral red rubber strap, with Milanese pattern and black edges, of NORQAIN’s Wild ONE Skeleton

Rubber straps, perennial favourite of watch enthusiasts during summers, offer a perfect blend of durability and comfort. Crafted from materials like silicone, natural rubber or Fluoroelastomer, these straps put up resistance against sweat and water, making them ideal companions for poolside lounging or beachside escapades. Although silicone and natural rubber are favoured for their softness and affordability, they may lack the long-term resilience of vulcanised rubber or Fluoroelastomer. The iconic "Tropic" strap, with its waffle-like texture reminiscent of vintage dive watches, remains a timeless choice for casual summer outings.

The Zenith Defy Extreme Diver includes a titanium three-link bracelet and two interchangeable straps: one Cordura-effect FKM rubber in a matching colour, and an extra-long NATO-style strap made from recycled fishing nets for wearing over a wetsuit.

Nylon Straps

Known for their smooth texture, lightweight nature, and breathability, Nylon straps can be a versatile choice for summer wear. Commonly featured in single-pass NATO designs, they are also prominent in various two-piece straps, such as braided Perlon straps known for exceptional ventilation and customisable fit. Premium options, often labelled "seatbelt nylon", provide a silkier, softer feel against the skin, although nylon straps generally lack inherent waterproof properties. However, Cordura nylon options offer reliable water resistance for activities like swimming. 


In the 1970s, the British Ministry of Defence developed the NATO watch strap for military use, emphasising durability, waterproofing, and ease of replacement. Evolving from its military origins, the NATO strap has become a fashion staple, valued for its blend of practicality, comfort, and affordability. Crafted from smooth nylon and sturdy stainless steel hardware, these straps offer comfort on the wrist, with premium options featuring reinforced stitching for longevity. Despite their versatility, traditional NATO straps may not dry quickly when wet, prompting consideration for water-resistant variants like Cordura nylon. Originally featuring a simple design with a single strip of nylon and pin buckle, the NATO strap's innovation lies in its ability to secure a watch even if a spring bar fails, ensuring that the timepiece remains on the wrist, thereby making it perfect for your swimming adventures. 

Breguet unveiled new strap options for its iconic Type XX and Type 20 timepieces earlier this year


Perlon straps, originating in Germany during the 1950s, present an alternative to traditional NATO designs with their distinctive cross-weave pattern and single-pass construction. Lightweight and breathable, Perlon straps provide a comfortable option for hot and humid conditions, offering a feather-like quality against the wrist. Unlike bulkier NATO straps, Perlon straps excel in providing a tailored fit and are particularly suited for casual activities like swimming or beach outings. Their unique cross-weave pattern allows for precise micro-adjustments, ensuring optimal comfort. Quality Perlon straps feature a surface-sealing treatment to resist water, grime, and sweat.

Textile straps 

The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Skipper presented on a blue textile strap

Often overshadowed by their rubber and nylon counterparts, textile straps are commonly associated with field and tactical watches, known for their durability outdoors. Yet, within this category lies a realm of innovation, featuring materials like canvas and sustainable options. Take, for instance, sailcloth straps crafted from robust canvas reminiscent of boat sails, boasting both maritime heritage and resilience to saltwater damage. Brands offer various sustainable alternatives, blending durability with sophistication, making them versatile for summer wear. Whether lounging by the pool or attending a beachside event, textile straps add a touch of nautical elegance to your wrist.

Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen Carbo₂ is finished on a black interchangeable textile strap with a rope pattern

Stainless Steel Mesh

While the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) stainless steel bracelets accompanying many timepieces are celebrated for their reliability, they may prove less than optimal in warmer climates, susceptible to issues such as perspiration buildup and discomfort. This is where the Mesh bracelet emerges as a compelling alternative.

The Breitling Superocean Capsule Collection

Mesh stainless steel bracelets offer a solution that harmonises excellent ventilation with the inherent coolness of metal craftsmanship. Their construction promotes superior airflow, ensuring comfort. Available in diverse styles, ranging from the refined Milanese and rice bead to the rugged shark mesh, these bracelets cater to a spectrum of preferences. Furthermore, their versatility makes them suitable for both formal and casual wear. Typically composed of individual links arranged in a sequential pattern, often tapering towards a clasp, mesh straps feature adjustable attributes to accommodate varying wrist sizes. Some designs even incorporate micro-adjustment mechanisms within the clasp, enabling precise customisation.

The best summer watch straps combine breathability, durability, and style to enhance your warm-weather wardrobe. So, whether you're diving into crystal clear waters or savouring lazy afternoons in the sun, choose a strap that not only complements your watch but also elevates your summer style.

Image Credits: Respective Brands