What is the Best Watch Strap for the UK?

Many of us here in the UK simply accept the watch straps that come with our watch upon purchase. Forgive us, but we at The Thrifty Gentleman think this is not the preferred way to go through life – live a little, add a bit of your own style!

Why have a standard UK watch strap when you could have one that complements your favourite outfits and makes your friends and co-workers gaze in awe? In fact, why have one watch strap when you could have ten…or (dare we suggest it!) twenty?

If you think watch straps are simply a practical addition to your watch, allow us to open up your mind to their endless possibilities for style and individuality.

This comprehensive guide to the best watch straps for UK wear will give you the low down on a variety of different watch strap styles. We’ll explore how something so seemingly inconsequential as a watch band can allow your personality and fashion sense to shine.

So, without any more waffle, let’s get started…

The Different Kinds of Watch Straps

First, we’ll be taking a look at the huge variety of straps available for watches in the UK, their history and their styling sensibilities.

A Note on Lug Widths

Before you go diving straight in and buying any old watch strap, take note of the lug width that your watch requires. Essentially, this is the width of your watch strap that conforms to the ‘lugs’ on either side of the watch case.

You can usually find your watch’s lug width noted on its online product page, in the specification booklet that came with it, or by measuring the distance between the lugs with a standard ruler or for a more accurate reading, a set of calipers. You’ll need the width in millimetres, which will likely be between 10mm and 24mm.

The Thrifty Gentleman offers watch straps to suit lug widths ranging from 12mm to 24mm, with most watch strap styles available in a variety of widths. If you find a type of watch band you fancy, use our handy lug width measurement guide to get the perfect fit.

Measuring Watch Lug Width With Digital Calipers

UK Watch Strap Materials and Styles

  1. Leather watch straps
  2. Metal watch straps
  3. Nylon watch straps
  4. Silicone watch straps
  5. Two piece watch straps
  6. One piece / solo-loop watch straps
  7. Quick release watch straps

1. Leather Watch Straps

Leather watch straps’ UK legacy stems as far back as the 1880s. British soldiers, desperate for easy access to the time during critical military operations, began to lash their pocket watches to their wrists with leather from straps and caps. Since leather was relatively cheap at that time, it wasn’t long before the trend caught on and several watch manufacturers and haberdashers began offering affordable leather watch straps.

Nowadays, leather is one of the most stylish materials you can get your hands on. A high-quality leather watch strap will add a touch of effortless sophistication to your ensemble. Tan leather watch straps warm up cool-toned outfits and silver watch dials, or pair perfectly with creams, beiges and browns. For all-day wear, black leather watch straps look spritely in the morning at work and sleek in the evening at dinner.

2. Metal Watch Straps

Metal watch straps in the UK do enjoy significant popularity, but this might be because they are often the standard straps that come with new watches. Fortunately, in contrast to leather watch straps, which in the UK have seen a relative price increase since the 19th century, metal watch straps have become much more affordable.

For example, Milanese watch straps, a woven metal strap with origins influenced by 13th-century chainmail, were once reserved only for Italian elites. Rolex’s pioneering 1950s metal watch strap was seen as a luxury alternative to affordable leather watch straps. Nowadays, however, metal watch straps in the UK are just as affordable as any other strap.

Seagull 1963 Watch With Milanese Mesh Metal Watch Strap from The Thrifty Gentleman

These watch bands look best when paired with a watch case of the same metal, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t mix and match for an eclectic feel. A cool metal watch strap over a crisp white shirt is a timeless look loved by many. But metal watch straps can provide a shining style to even the most casual outfits. A fluffy jumper and metal watch strap combo, for example, is perfect for evening wear year-round.

3. Nylon Watch Straps

When it comes to UK watch straps, nylon is the material that can do it all. Woven nylon watch straps first saw popularity among UK gents in the 1960s, when it became the material of choice for the NATO watch strap. Its military legacy continued with the elastic nylon watch strap, the Marine Nationale, and the NATO strap’s modern civilian counterpart, the Zulu watch strap.

However, it’s not just military styling that the nylon watch strap can achieve. Sailcloth nylon watch straps are a suave alternative that wouldn’t look out of place on the deck of a super yacht. Additionally, our nylon Bond watch straps offer endless pattern opportunities, and herringbone nylon can even be used to create a tweed effect for watch straps.

No matter which nylon watch strap you opt for, their durability is unparalleled, perfect for the worst and best kinds of UK weather. Their longevity and rugged appearance mean they’re the perfect casual watch strap for everyday wear, and won’t give out on you if you’re swimming, sweating or generally pushing yourself to the limits.

4. Silicone Watch Straps

Would you believe that Rolex began to release rubber watch straps at the same time as their iconic metal ones? Well, it’s true. These silicone watch bands were seen as a comfortable alternative to more rigid, metal watch straps. But, even today, silicone watch straps don’t enjoy the widespread reputation among UK watch-wearers that they probably should.

Silicone watch bands are non-toxic and eco-friendly, and they’re great if you have sensitive skin or struggle to wear watches for long periods. You need only look at The Thrifty Gentleman’s tropical watch strap collection to see just how fun and colourful, yet sleek and stylish, silicone watch straps can be. If you’re looking for something different, silicone watch straps might just be the way to go.

5. Two Piece Watch Straps

Now let’s move on to more technical aspects of watch straps available in the UK. First, two piece watch straps, without being too obvious, come in two pieces. One piece attaches at either end of your watch case, and they are then fastened with a buckle of some kind.

Baltany Watch with Buffalo Grain Light Brown Watch Strap from The Thrifty Gentleman

They’re the most traditional type of UK watch strap, with a wide variety of materials and colours available in this two-piece configuration.

6. One Piece / Solo-Loop Watch Straps

One piece watch straps are seen less often in the UK market, but their practical and easy configuration matches perfectly with their seamless, unbroken loop style. There are a few types of one piece watch straps, one example being the solo loop watch strap, available from The Thrifty Gentleman.

Elastic Solo Loop Watch Band in Raspberry Red from The Thrifty Gentleman

First, our elastic nylon NATO watch straps have enough stretch to slip over your hand, and then fit snugly to your wrist.

Second, Marine Nationale watch straps, also fashioned from elasticated nylon, are still made in their original solo loop design. The difference is that Marine Nationale watch straps have a distinct buckle used to tighten the watch strap, without breaking the one piece loop.

Finally, the Seatbelt Collection is a different take on one piece NATO watch straps, with a traditional buckle and silver hardware included.

7. Quick Release Watch Straps

By now, you’ve probably added a few of The Thrifty Gentleman’s affordable watch straps to your wish list. If that’s the case, consider shopping from our quick release watch strap collection.

Leather and Milanese Mesh Metal Quick Release Watch Strap Options

Quick release watch straps allow you to switch out your straps in seconds, revamping your style whenever you feel like a change.

The Verdict: Which is the Best Watch Strap for UK Wear?

Now that you know all about the various kinds of watch straps, it’s time to decide which is the best watch strap for UK wear.

But, sorry to disappoint, we’re far from coming to any conclusions yet, not least because the best watch strap depends entirely on you and your style. Additionally, there are near-endless styles of watch straps out there that we haven’t covered. Can you believe we’ve barely scratched the surface?

So, with that being said, let’s explore some ideas for the best watch straps in the UK to help you find an answer to that all-important question…

What Are The Best Watch Straps for the UK Seasons?

As an isolated island in the far northern hemisphere, the UK sees some pretty unique weather, even though it might not feel like it after two straight months of pouring rain. Having said that, the weather here can be sunny one minute and stormy the next.

However, we do see some standard changes in weather and temperature throughout the seasons. Plus, each season brings with it holidays and traditions that allow you to find the perfect watch strap to match the ambience and atmosphere, along with any necessary changes in your personal style.

Here are The Thrifty Gentleman’s suggestions for the best watch straps for the UK seasons, based on both practicality and your personality:


In spring, the January blues are long behind us and it’s time to venture outside. Since spring means we can shed our winter coats without giving up our cold-weather gear altogether, it’s the perfect season for over-the-cuff watch strap wear that allows you to show off your style. But, it’s probably best not to rock your luxury metal watch strap yet, just in case you get soaked through in an April shower.

The best watch strap for UK spring will be:

  • Light and bright
  • Block-coloured or patterned
  • Resistant to moisture
  • Versatile for indoor and outdoor wear
  • Durable enough for casual outdoor activities

We’d recommend a silicone watch strap, such as our soft silicone sports watch straps, for a pop of colour that matches the bright spring growth. As well as being waterproof enough to withstand sporadic rain, they’re comfortable enough for rising temperatures and all-day wear.

Dive Watch with Light Blue, Navy Blue and Green Silicone Watch Straps from The Thrifty Gentleman

Pair with a plastic-case watch face or a digital Casio for a fun feeling, and don’t be afraid to move away from monochromatic clothes. On the other hand, lightweight white, cream and beige T-shirts will allow your colourful springtime watch strap to shine.


In the past few years, UK summers have been getting hotter and hotter. For some of us, a good bit of sun is a godsend. But, for others, it starts to get a little bit much after a while.

Even though your best watch strap has served you well through UK weather in autumn, winter and spring, unfortunately, it might not work as well in the summer. For example, leather watch straps in the UK summer, though always stylish, are going to get a little sweaty.

For the UK summer, the best watch strap will be:

  • Flexible and breathable
  • Lightweight and thin
  • Quick-drying and moisture-wicking
  • Resistant to UV and sun exposure
  • Vibrant for a summery feel
  • Comfortable for all-day wear
  • Suitable for water activities and beach outings

For the best UK summer watch strap, The Thrifty Gentleman recommends our elastic nylon solo loop marine nationale straps. For easy dressing on those bright summer mornings, the elastic nylon watch straps simply slip over your wrist.

As well as being waterproof for sea-faring activities and swimming, they’re quick-drying for minimal irritation and won’t suffer as a result of prolonged sun exposure. Additionally, they’re available in a range of summery colours and intricate patterns, as well as more subdued designs to match simple, warm-weather clothing.


With the harsh heat of UK summer finally cooling down, the first few weeks of autumn are perfect for outdoor events and activities. Additionally, you probably won’t need to start wearing your bulky winter coat until the temperature starts to drop in late October. This provides you with the perfect opportunity for a transitional watch strap, straddling warm-weather wear and festive winter cheer.

The best watch strap for UK autumn will be:

  • Durable
  • Weather-resistant
  • Warmly coloured or earth toned
  • Versatile for both formal and casual settings
  • Comfortable enough for extended wear

For an autumn watch strap, we’d recommend either sailcloth nylon or herringbone tweed nylon watch straps. As mentioned, nylon is durable enough to withstand the changeable weather that UK autumns are known for. But, the sleek style of these watch straps allows for a transition to cosier clothing.

Pierre Paulin Watch with Tweed Style Khaki Herringbone Watch Strap from The Thrifty Gentleman

In particular, the tweed style watch straps, available in natural tones and a deep blue, are perfect to pair with lightweight blazers and bomber jackets. Not to mention, their leather lining will keep you comfortable throughout the day.

Sailcloth nylon watch straps, on the other hand, are great for day-to-night wear, and match with casual clothing and formal shirts alike.


Ah, everybody’s favourite time of year, the UK winter. Who doesn’t love waking up an hour earlier to de-ice their windscreen?

All jokes aside, winter in the UK demands a unique style of cold-weather clothing, making watch wearing a little bit more of a covert activity. When you’re inside around the fire, though, winter provides ample opportunity for distinctive style.

There’s no reason why your winter watch strap, aside from being waterproof to fend off rain and snow, can’t be as stylish as in all the other seasons.

For winter in the UK, the best watch strap will be:

  • Waterproof and weather-resistant
  • Insulated and thick for added warmth
  • Dark and versatile colours for a sleek look
  • Compatible with layered clothing
  • Durable to withstand cold temperatures
  • Suitable for formal occasions and festive events
  • Easy to clean from mud and snow

We have two options for the best watch straps for the UK winter. The first is The Thrifty Gentleman’s reliable, heavy-duty nylon straps. As well as their ability to withstand the harsher elements, our military style watch straps marry the best of practicality and effortless style.

Heavy Duty Zulu Nato Watch Strap in Bond Spectre Style on Steeldive Watch

However, since your watch will likely be kept safe and sound under a waterproof winter coat until you’re inside, don’t be afraid to take advantage of metal or leather watch straps this season. Our black leather watch straps look great with thick winter jumpers, and are the perfect complement to formal winter outfits or at Christmas dinner.

For more info on choosing the best Christmas watch strap, you can take a look at our comprehensive guide here.

Best Watch Straps Based on UK Popular Culture

The weather isn’t the only thing you should consider when selecting your watch strap. Even though they’re relatively small as far as accessories go, your watch straps can say a lot about you and what you love.

Football Crazy, Football Mad

Why not match your best watch strap to your local football club? For example, United fans might like to opt for something from our collection of red watch straps, while City fans should peruse our substantial blue watch strap collection. For the Geordies, you can’t go wrong with our military nylon watch strap in black and white.

Black and White Football Colours Watch Strap on Corgeut Chronograph

Art Attack

For art lovers, it’s easy to find a watch strap that matches your favourite aesthetic. Minimalism fans will love our Perlon watch straps, or 12mm watch straps, for a subtle style that offers the best of the bare essentials. On the other hand, maximalists will adore our rainbow watch straps, offering a vibrant array of colours that draw all eyes to your wrist.

Watch Straps Fit for a Time Traveller

If you’re a sci-fi lover or tech-wear enthusiast, you might like to stick to our All Black collection, for watch straps in that most versatile of colours to match any modern outfit. Or, if you prefer a touch of bookish, vintage flair, our NATO watch straps come with a 50-year, UK-centric history woven into every thread.

Straight from 007’s Wardrobe

For James Bond fans, take a look at our Bond watch collection, inspired by the watch straps worn by the UK’s favourite super-spy. In particular, the military nylon watch strap in green and red is modelled after the watch accessory worn on Connery’s iconic Submariner 6538 seen in Goldfinger.

Or, if you have more modern tastes, opt for Daniel Craig’s limited edition Omega Seamaster black and grey, two piece watch strap, available for a fraction of the original price.

For some more examples of watches and straps from pop culture, check out our post on celebrities’ watches here.

Whatever your favourite part of UK pop culture, you’re certain to find a watch strap that shows off what you love, without sacrificing functionality. The best part is that these watch straps will blend into your outfits. That is until you meet someone with the same tastes as you, of course. Then you get to show off your pride and passions with a wink, nod and shared appreciation.

Best Watch Straps for UK Countries

Finally, if you can’t be patriotic when it comes to your watch strap then when can you?

With The Thrifty Gentleman’s handy colour-coordinated collections, you can easily find the best watch straps to represent your UK country.

Our raspberry red, elastic nylon, solo loop watch strap looks wonderful with a Welsh rugby jersey.

For Scots, our NATO watch strap in dark blue and white is a perfect pair for the Saltire.

For Northern Ireland, show off your pride for the emerald isle with our collection of green watch straps.

And for the English, a glistening buffalo-grain, white leather strap is one St George himself would be proud of.

Red, White and Blue, Green and Navy Blue Nato Watch Straps from The Thrifty Gentleman

Why stop at countries? If you’ve got bags of pride for Cornwall, represent your county with the Marine Nationale watch strap in yellow and black. Or, if you’re a consummate Britophile, partial to flying the Union Jack, let the NATO watch strap in red, white and blue do the work for you.

In Conclusion…

Watch straps fulfil their function of holding your watch to your wrist. But, they can do a whole lot more than that. Choosing the best watch strap for the UK will allow you to express yourself, take your accessories game to the next level, and feel comfortable throughout the seasons, no matter what you’re getting up to.

With The Thrifty Gentleman, you’ll find all the best straps for UK wear in one place. Once you’ve chosen your favourite affordable watch straps, take advantage of our free UK delivery to save even more money. Each of our watch straps is selected for their high quality, supreme style and awesome value.

If you have any questions about any of our watch straps or want to share your thoughts on the best UK watch straps, don’t hesitate to reach out to us here or leave a comment below.

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