Best Watchband Ever

I’ve pretty much settled on the watch I’ll be using for the next many years. It’s served me well for the last three years, and it has the functions I want: waterproof (as much as I’ll ever need, anyway), stopwatch, readable dial, visible in the dark, never needs a battery. I love it.

But I’ve been swapping out watchbands on the thing ever since I got it. I’ll wear a band for a couple of months and kinda settle into it, then either the band will wear out or break, or I’ll get tired of however it digs into my skin or tears out my wrist hairs. When I got the watch, the first thing I did was throw away the goofy green canvas watchband that came with it, and put on a velcro wrap band. That lasted for months until the velcro got tired and kinda wore out. I tried a metal bracelet for a while, but that tore hairs and was clunky. Then I tried a nice leather band with a deployment clasp that never needed buckling. That was nice, but the leather wore out around the clasp, plus it was ridiculously clunky.

I also noticed that I was removing my watch when I sat down at a computer. That’s because the clasp/buckle/strap of the watchband was always digging into the underside of my wrist when I had my hands on the keyboard. Very annoying, so I just took off the watch. Thing is, I didn’t really want to take off the watch because I’d invariably walk away without putting it back on. Taking it off was only slightly less of a hassle than suffering through the annoyance of the watchband digging into my wrist.

So that’s the backstory. Last year I caught a whiff of an interesting watchband and bookmarked it for later. I eventually bought it and have been wearing it for the last few months.

The Zulu strap has been a great band, and probably the only one I’ll use for this watch from now on. It’s a single strap, so it weaves between the bars on your watch body, basically in the same way as those velcro straps. It does have a pretty beefy buckle, but the nice thing is that you can position the watch much closer to the buckle so that the buckle isn’t directly under your wrist. Initially I positioned the buckle on the outside of my wrist, like the instructions said. I quickly realized that I roll my wrist outward a lot when I use the keyboard, and that position bugged me. So I swapped it around and positioned the buckle on the inside of my wrist. Perfect!

The strap is so flat that I don’t really notice it when my hands are resting on the keyboard. The strap itself is totally bombproof, with an option to weave the tail of the strap back through some metal loops as a backup fastener for the buckle. The buckle isn’t going anywhere though. The overall look of the Zulu strap is sort of “military” but when you position the buckle on the inside of your wrist, it’s a lot less noticeable. Also, the metal hardware comes in either silver or black. The black hardware might make the band even less noticeable.

I have the regular version, not the diver’s version. It fits me just right, but I’m 6’4″ with medium sized wrists for my size. The watchband goes to the third hole and is able to double back through the metal loops. If I go to the second hole, I can’t double back, but the metal loops lay down on the tail of the band and keep it flat. If I ever have to buy a second band, I’ll probably get the diver’s style and just cut it down to my size. Even on the third hole, it could still use just a few extra millimeters of tail through the metal loops.

Anyway, it’s a great watchband. It feels like it’ll last forever and it lets me leave my watch on when I’m at the computer. Nice. In the vein of Merlin Mann’s tactical Internet pants, I’m dubbing this the tactical Internet watchband. Can you believe I just wrote over 700 words about my watchband? Me either!

2 thoughts on “Best Watchband Ever

  1. Have been wearing this NATO/military style nylon watch band (Zulu is a brand of the general style) for 40 years—I rotate through a collection of 4+ watches, some which came with molded black plastic straps—which degrade and break within months, it seems–and I always replace them with the NATO style. Some of the plastic Timex and Casio sport watches (e.g.–Ironman and G Shock) have lugs with less than 18 mm spacing for their custom plastic straps; I have modified several by cutting and filing down/off the space to accommodate the 18/19 mm (3/4 inch) width of the NATO straps, and now even make my own straps from stock webbing and sewing on buckles.

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