One of the questions I always see in the forum and in Facebook groups I am in is what NATO strap to get. There’s a lot of recommendation to purchase from local shops here in Australia. However, what I find is that some of those sellers that actually sells straps that are or is identical to the ones at AliExpress. I eventually asked around and one of the names that always comes out is “Cincy Strap Works”.
This review will come in three parts. The reason is that I’ve purchased from them twice with two different products each time. In this review, I am covering the normal SB and Premium and providing my experience with them. In the next review, it will be their two piece NATO which has also received some positive feedback and and a full comparsion between brands I’ve bought after that one.
The straps I ordered are the 20mm Premium “SB” Khaki, 20mm “SB” Black “Stealth Bond” and the 20mm “SB” Black/Orange Bond which I purchased a year later along with the two piece NATO. The best time to purchase from Cincy are during special holidays in US where they will usually have 20-30% off. This discount even makes this purchase a lot better and would consider it a bargain. For the ones I purchased above, the pricing are as follows before discount:
- 20mm Black / Orange – $24 USD
- 20mm Black Bond – $24 USD (Old Hardware)
- 20mm Premium Khaki – $26 USD
I bought these NATO for the purpose of my speedmasters. I always believe that speedmasters are one of the watches that always looked nice on one. The way I tested their premium or standard is giving each ample time on a speedmaster.
I tried the standard black SB first. After wearing it, I know this will be the NATO that will last for a while. The thinness made an appeal to me that it doesn’t look too bulky on the speedmaster and on my wrist. The strap was already soft out the box which is a big plus!
The black orange arrived to me a year after and is also a normal SB, but I feel like it’s a tad more stiff, but still less stiff than the premium. It could just be a newer stock and needed more time breaking in, but that was my initial thought. Given there’s a year gap between this SB over the black SB I bought, I am curious if anything has changed in their production line. They do feel the same in terms of smoothness and hardware so that’s not a problem.
The khaki premium on the other hand really a step above. You will notice and feel the thickness right away and the difference in hardware. Moreoever, the thicker straps feels more durable. However, it does really add a bit of bulk on the looks even if it’s just a few mm. After using it for a while, I went back to their normal SB as I feel like it’s still too stiff knowing that it might require a breaking in period.
Another thing I noticed with the premium strap is that the stitching goes all the way to the end. I am unsure if this increases the strength of the strap but it exposes the edges of it.
So which one should I get? It depends on your preference. Both are good quality with one being a tad thicker in hardware and thickness. The difference between normal and premium is only $2 as well.
My preference is the thinner one especially if you have a thin wrist or a very light weight watch. The extra thickness and better hardware should benefit heavier watches.
If one is looking for a NATO strap, I couldn’t recommend Cincy Strap Works enough. Value for money is there especially on discount. You wouldn’t go back to any cheap NATO anymore after trying this one out. 10/10 would recommend as the NATO brand to get.