Making a Leather NATO Strap for My Hamilton Khaki Pilot Day Date Watch

Today it’s time to make a leather NATO strap for my beautiful Hamilton Khaki Pilot Day Date automatic watch. The history of both Hamilton watches and NATO straps is quite interesting so this watch deserves a stunning leather NATO strap. The specific leather I am going to use for this project is dark brown pull up leather, sometimes referred to as crazy horse leather. These NATO straps are quite easy to make and make for a fun little project to start leatherworking with a minimal amount of specific leather working tools. I hope you enjoy this video!

Video transcript:

Hello ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Tony Needs Hobbies. My name is Tony and in this video I am going to make a leather watch strap. A NATO strap to be more precise for this beautiful Hamilton Khaki Pilot Day Date automatic watch. Have fun watching.

I am going to make the NATO strap out of this beautiful dark brown piece of pull up leather. But the first step will be stripping this existing, very cheap strap from its hardware.

The history of the NATO strap is quite fascinating. They originated in the seventies as a nylon strap made for the British Ministry of Defense. To get such a strap, a soldier had to fill in a form, referred to as a G10 which later became synonym for the strap itself. I couldn’t find why they are currently called NATO straps. If you know, please drop me a line in the comments.

These days you can see these relatively cheap straps on all sorts of watches from cheap Timexes to expensive Rolexes, but as explained, originally they were designed for military watches. That’s why I am going to make a leather version for this Hamilton pilots watch of which the design is clearly inspired by the German World War II flieger watches.

I strip the strap from its hardware using my trusty Victorinox Swiss Army Knife that has served me well over ten years at this moment. Of course you can try to make the hardware yourself, but these nylon straps can be bought very cheaply If you buy in bulk, so I chose to use pre-existing straps for the hardware and as a template.

Since I have a 20 cm wrist, I am going to make the strap longer than the cheap one I just stripped. However, I will still use the leftovers of that strap to decide the distance between the steel keepers. The lug distance for this watch is 20mm, which is quite normal. Be sure to measure this distance first if you are going to make a NATO strap yourself. The total length of this strap of leather that I just cut is 42.5 cm but the good thing of making these things yourself is that you can make them fit perfectly by adjusting the size to meet your requirements.

To round the corners I use this small scoop but you can practically use anything that is round and which you can place flat on the leather. After one end has been rounded, I break the edge on the other end by cutting of the corner to then continue with measuring the distances for where the hardware needs to go and where I need to glue and stitch the leather together.

First I will install the buckle at 14cm by cutting two holes with the pliers and removing the leather between the holes. Before stitching the leather I will punch all the stitch lines so that I can easily install all the hardware in one go. As you can see, I use a grey nylon strap to guide me where the hardware should go, but basically I leave 1cm between all the stitch lines.

So now I cut the leather and I punched the holes. Now I just need to install the hardware by means of gluing and stitching and then this little project is already finished.

But of course that’s more easily said than done since it will take a little while to stitch, and the contact cement has to dry for a couple of minutes after applying. So let’s get on with it.

I found that installing the end keeper is good to start with. I slide the leather through and then fold it over so the two parts of the leather with contact cement touch and stick together. Be sure that the punched holes are aligned well, for easy stitching. Then I push the needle in between so you don’t see the start and end of the threading when I’m done stitching this part. For stitching I just go back and forth trying to do it as regularly as I can so it will look the best. The last stitch ends in between the two pieces again. With a simple knot I tie the two ends together and cut off the excess thread. Then I melt them together with a lighter after which I can continue with the next piece of hardware, which will be the buckle. The process is the same and will be repeated five more times, so I will speed it up a bit.

First, I apply the contact cement, then let it sit for five minutes before pushing it together. Start with stitching in between the two pieces of leather, continue until everything is stitched, end in between the leather again. Tie the ends in a simple knot, cut off the excess thread and melt it together with a lighter and … repeat.

Try not to work too fast, because then, things like this happen… After fixing myself with a bandaid I can continue and finish all these stitch lines.

Just a few more and… Were done. I just need to melt and flatten these last pieces of thread before marking the locations for the holes for this strap. As a guide I use a scrap piece of the NATO strap that I used to strip the hardware from and then I cut them out using my hole pliers.

The new strap is finished, so what I am going to do next is take off this watch from its previous strap and put it on the newly created pull up leather NATO strap.

For that, I will use this awesome Bergeon 6767 spring bar removal tool. But before installing the new strap, let me show you the benefit of a NATO strap over traditional watch bands. Aside from looking very cool, these straps offer a technical benefit. As you can see, it forms a little loop that secures the watch. In the rare occasion one of the spring bars fails, your watch will remain attached to the strap, so that’s very cool because you will not lose or break it. Now let’s put it on the strap and see how it looks on my wrist…

I think this watch looks gorgeous on its brand new leather NATO strap. Please let me know your opinion in the comment section down below. This simple project shows that you don’t need much specific leather working tools to start working with leather. Just grab yourself a little bit of leather and start having fun, similar to the fun that I hope you had watching this video. If you did, then please let me know by hitting the like button and definitely consider subscribing to this channel for more content like this in the future. That’s it for now. I would like to thank you for watching.

Bye, bye!

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.