“A timepiece is the final say to any man’s outfit.” 

Timeless Role as a Statement Piece

These days, the functional value of a wristwatch is waning with the ubiquitous use of cell phones for time-keeping. However, the aesthetic value of a watch can’t quite be replicated (yet) by an iPhone no matter how well designed. A classy and well-coordinated timepiece will get noticed, so use your wrist real estate wisely.

And while an elegant Patek Phillipe, vintage Rolex, or an sleek IWC will surely get their share of compliments, they’re priced out of reach for most wrists (unless, of course, you’re Chris Paul). Fortunately, there are dozens of very respectable brands priced from the low hundreds to the low thousands, but today, we’re only going to focus on one uber affordable combination that will allow you to elevate your look while spending less than $50.

Here’s how:

Watch straps. Buying a single watch and rotating watch straps has been a well-known secret of the sartorially imaginative.

For the absolute extreme in value, you can’t beat the value of a Timex Easy Reader or Weekender which you can pick up for just $20-35. The simple face allows for endless alternative strap possibilities to pair with just about any look you’re going for whether it’s that dressy look for the boardroom to the laid-back ensemble for the weekend escape to the shore. Got some more change you can throw into your wrist candy? Here are a few more watches to consider from less to more expensive: Seiko 5, Triwa Nevil, Uniform WaresMougin & Piquard, Junghans x Max Bill or the Georg Jensen Koppel.

The NATO strap

NATO Straps on Martenero Watches

NATO Straps on custom watches by Martenero.

One of our favorites is the “NATO” watch strap, a traditionally nylon watch strap of British military origins that was popularized for its pairings with dive watches a la James Bond. We agree it looks fantastic with classic dive watches (like the classic Rolex Submariner), but they also work extremely well with a basic budget watch like the aforementioned Easy Reader/Weekender or on a custom Martenero watch, like the ones featured in the photo above.

Where to Get Them:

You can either pick them up for as little as $10 at JcrewP&B, or Amazon.  By taking a $30 timex and adding a few interchangeable NATO straps to the mix you turn a budget watch into a versatile statement piece that’ll stretch across your entire wardrobe.

Looking to dress up your look even more? Swap out that nylon strap for a leather one for something that’ll make your look a little more boardroom appropriate. 

Removing and Changing the Watch Strap:

To remove the original watch strap of your watch, you can either visit any watch store/repair shop to have them quickly removed or do it yourself with a spring bar tool. Here’s an excellent video that guides you through the process.

If your watch strap is too long on your wrist, check out this video of a clever method for cutting and shortening any nylon strap.

Don’t be afraid to go bold. Whereas the rules for an attractive tailored suit are well-defined, the watch strap is an area where you can have a lot more freedom to take some chances. Go for that fresh orange color nylon strap with your serious dark suit–break some rules, show some color, maybe offend some watch snobs and have some fun. In the end, that’s what style’s about.


Got any questions or comments on watch straps, budget watches, custom suits, or all of the above? Leave a comment below or email us at concierge@blacklapel.com and we’d be happy to chat!


(Featured Illustration by Ivan Kasaj)