I love a good NATO strap for its rugged versatility, security, and comfort, and when I heard the Grey NATO guys recommend a... grey NATO that would be a little more sweat and grime resistant, I knew I had to look into it. I am in the camp that tends to wear a NATO strap as intended: outdoors, camping, during the summer, etc., but will admit that I've thought about how much sweat and grime the traditional nylon straps must be soaking up. Sure they can be washed, but the prospect of a high quality rubber option seemed great for these more active situations.
I also thought this would be a great strap alternative to the OEM bracelet for my eventual Seiko SKX013 purchase. Being that my Caravelle SeaHunter and the SKX013 both have 20 mm lug widths, I decided to give one a go. The suggested resource from The Grey Nato and other sources is UK based Watch Gecko, and for good reason with a ton of color and size options. They also have it as a single strap to reduce some bulk in the form of the Zuludiver 298. I actually found the strap cheaper stateside from Holben's Fine Watchbands, who I've purchased through before, but I was a little unsure it was the same strap, and Holbens' listing stated it was vanilla scented, which I was slightly weary of vanilla scented rubber.
Well, I can confirm that the straps provided by Watch Gecko are also vanilla scented, though subtly and not obnoxiously so. Ordering from Watch Gecko was very easy and extremely fast. My order arrived within a week in a nice cardboard envelope with a nice thank you flyer as well. The strap was individually packaged in it's own bag and even included 3 spring bars, which was a nice little bonus. I would absolutely have no issues ordering from Watch Gecko again, as all of the currency conversion was transparent, shipping was fast and free, and order status was well communicated. I really couldn't ask for much more from an order process.
If you're not looking for an exotic color though, and/or especially if you have Amazon Prime, purchasing from Amazon via Holben's would be a little less expensive yet (and extra kudos if you will be so kind as to use the provided link if you're going to purchase so I can potentially get a little recognition as well!).
The strap itself is very comfortable and attractive, with really nice hardware, and the second keeper being kind of L-shaped. Because it is a little thicker than a traditional nylon NATO, it's not intended to double back any excess through the keeper, but trimming with some all purpose sheers was easy and tidy.
The strap feels very secure and comfortable. I've been wearing it on the Caravelle Devil Diver to the gym and it hasn't felt sweaty, clammy, itchy, or pulling on any arm hair as you might be concerned with. I attribute this to the high quality vulcanized Nitrile rubber and the micro-ribbed pattern. Nitrile rubber is said to be non-toxic, non-allergenic, and salt and UV resistant, so we will see how it holds up to long term camping, yard work, and pool duty over the Phoenix, Arizona summer later this year. I'll be interested to potentially order some more in different colors. I particularly like the one piece Zulu 298 and some of 2-piece offerings as well. I hadn't heard of Bonetto Cinturini prior to The Grey NATO, but I thank James and Jason for the recommendation, because Cinturini sure seems to know rubber straps.
The Zuludiver 328 Italian Rubber NATO is available for $39.97 with free shipping through Amazon here, and the single piece Zuludiver 298 for $25.97 shipped free here. Lastly, if you enjoy podcasts the incorporate a lot of watches, gear, travel, adventure, photography, and just general cool stuff, be sure to give The Grey Nato a listen and subscribe.
UPDATE: Also be sure to click through to the Long Term Ownership Report, documenting how well this strap is holding up after 10 months of use and abuse.