When it’s 90 degrees outside, wearing a padded crocodile watch strap is no less insane than putting on a parka. Yeah, yeah, you’re man enough to handle having a sweaty wrist. But what about when that $600 piece of hide starts harboring major funk? Didn’t think so. (And your main BBQ mate agrees.) Plus, don’t even think about jumping in the pool with a leather strap, unless you’re ready to throw it out as you towel off.
Instead, swap in one of these four summer-ready materials and start enjoying casual weekends with breezy ease.
Perlon is real insider watch-nerd stuff. These woven synthetic straps are cheap, colorful, and about as low maintenance as a watch strap can get, but for some reason they’ve been almost entirely unknown outside of continental Europe until a year or so ago. You just thread them through your watch’s spring bars and stick the pin through the weave wherever it’s comfortable. Sure, the buckles are a little tinny, and the weave stretches out over time, but for just a little more cash than a Tubman (née Alexander Hamilton), they’re essentially disposable. Order in bulk. I’m wearing one as I type this and expect I’ll be wearing another one tomorrow. $12
The NATO is the original all-terrain, wet-dry watch strap. These basic nylon bands were developed for military divers, and “007” himself has sported one on multiple occasions.Crown & Buckle carries them in a ton of colors and patterns, so don’t feel wed to the traditional gray and black stripes. Just like the Perlon straps, they thread right through the bars on your watch (no tool required) and can be hot-swapped in just a few seconds. They’re usually on the long side, so you just tuck the extra back through the metal loops and act like it’s all part of the look. Yes, they may have developed a bit of a hipster rep since everyone from Urban Outfitters to J Crew started selling them, but don’t sweat it: NATOs are too good at keeping you cool to avoid because of something like that. $12
While not the most waterproof, a canvas strap like the Phalanx can provide a bit more formality while still giving you the comfort of a NATO or Perlon (especially in black). Some people swear by the super-worn-in canvas look, leather accents and all, like something salvaged from a WWII battle site—but I don’t buy it. Minimal and cleanly finished straps will take you more places. For example, the above is still olive drab, but with clean matching stitching and just enough padding that it won’t lose its shape after a few wears. It’s all about that balance. $36
It might sound as if a rubber watch strap would become a sweaty mess, but they wear cool and don’t retain moisture so your wrist isn’t swimming. What’s actually shocking is how difficult it is to find a good one. If you’re in the market for a rose gold Yachmaster, get the full-on Oysterflex bracelet. For everyone else there’s Switzerland’s Rubber B. Its thick molded rubber straps are insanely comfortable, totally waterproof, hypoallergenic, and custom fit for a variety of other Rolex and Panerai watches (don’t worry, generics are available if you’re sporting something else). Steer clear of the rubber-lined leather and exotic straps: They’re not as elegant as plain skin nor as utilitarian as 100-percent rubber. You won’t be getting the full benefits of either. From $220