Resuscitate An Old Watch For Only 5 Bucks

Words & Pictures by Andrew Snavely

Just like swapping out your shoe laces, retrofitting an old watch with a new strap can completely change its style. The canvas watch strap has been gaining popularity over the last year or two, specifically what is known as a NATO strap. Originally designed for the British military, canvas NATO straps offer a stylish alternative to metal and leather watch bands that often don't add anything to your getup. In contrast, a canvas strap that matches your getup like the tan strap below, or adds a bit of color like the green, blue, and white strap, acts as a fully functional piece of what you're wearing.

Based on a tip from Joe over at Dappered I swung by Target to find the Timex Weekender Slip-Thru straps to be marked at $6.99. I picked up 3, and was delighted to find they were actually on sale for $5 each.

I chose the three color combinations above. I’m really digging the tan strap, especially for all the earth tones of fall style. The green, blue, and white strap yearns for shorts and polo weather. And the blue and white strap creates a nice casual anytime watch that offers more than leather or metal. These Timex straps accommodate 20mm pins. The timepiece shown is the Timex Easy Reader, and after swapping straps you end up with a watch that rivals the much more expensive J.Crew Timex that runs for $150.

These aren’t true NATO straps, since they’re missing the extra band that goes underneath the clock, but for $15 I essentially got three new watches. Installation is a cinch: Just take off the old strap, place the pins back in, and slide the new strap through as shown on the right. Once the pins are in place, swapping between straps is a breeze.

Watches are literally one of the only “accessories” a guy has, so get some new straps and give yourself some options.

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

  • CS

    What’s the best way to remove the original? Is a special tool necessary? I bought some nylon straps several months back but was unable to remove the original.

  • JC

    Hey CS, you can use what is called a springbar tool which doesn’t run you much. If you are gonna do it for one time you can use something as a small precision flat head or even a blade/knife that can get between the bar and watch. You can check out some helpful videos on youtube. Good luck!

  • porkchop

    Wallyworld has the Timex Weekender watch that comes with a NATO band for approximately $35. Strangely it bears strong resemblance to the JCrew $150 Timex watch. Hmmm… could you be paying $115 for buying it from JCrew.

    Check out these NATO straps from CountyComm.

  • Mark

    Hi gentlemen,
    Another great article.
    You can also pick up real military bands on eBay quite cheap and you do not need to remove the pins for these types of bands as they just slide into place.

    • Andrew

      Mark, Good tip about ebay. Army Navy stores might have them too. Probably not less than $5 I would imagine. You’ll still need to remove the pins to get the old strap off.

  • AC

    I can’t seem to find just the straps anywhere. My target store didn’t have any, and I’ve checked amazon,, and amongst other websites, and they seem to only have the full watches not just the straps. Has anyone found these straps online or somewhere else???


  • Andrew

    AC, The ones I found at Target were on an end display, with the Weekender watches above them.

  • Brian

    This reminds me of a post by the guy who runs The Effortless Gent blog awhile back. Awesome idea. Would love to see a post taking this idea further into ways to resuscitate staple items of a wardrobe.

  • Walter out of the big apple sells many NATO/Zulu straps for decent price..I bought a few for them for my breitling.. NATO/ Zulu type bands are great cause they are very inexpensive allowing you to buy many indifferent shades

  • kw

    do a quick ebay search for NATO you can score a real nato strap for 9bucks and under..also if you love watches.. you can find some truly beautiful pre 1940’s watches for good prices on ebay too..

  • CS

    FYI: Target has new Weekender straps in bright and pastel colors for spring as of yesterday. Some of them are for ladies’ watches though so they’ll be narrow to fit a Weekender but may still fit an Easy Reader.

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