Victor & Wells is a new English watch strap company. When they set out to find some cool NATOs for their Seinharts and Seikos, they discovered a disappointing pacuity of quality strap retailers in the UK. After some frustration with inferior straps, they set out to fill this niche on their own, setting up shop as a "premium watch strap retailer." Always on the prowl for new and affordable strap options, I reached out to them immediately to bring news of their wares to you, my loyal Time Bum readers. They responded with samples from each of their lines: a ballistic nylon NATO, a heavy weave nylon Zulu, and a brushed leather NATO. After the straps had completed their long journey across the pond, I set them to work and was quite pleased with their performance.
The ballistic nylon NATO is a red and yellow regimental stripe with polished hardware. It is 275mm long and features polished stainless steel hardware. The buckle is secured with a spring bar, which I prefer to the usual NATO buckle which is a solid frame that is sewn in. To be honest, I cannot articulate a logical reason why I like the removable kind as there is really no advantage to replacing a buckle on a strap with sewn in loops, but to my eye, it just seems a bit more finished. The strap is ultrasonically welded, and sewn with matching red thread. It appeared properly constructed with straight stitching and no rough edges. The color was vibrant and really popped against the Timex Weekender modeling it. This particular design is not yet available, but it is indicative of the quality of a Victor & Wells NATO. You might take a look at the "Swiss" red with white cross pattern. I have not seen it elsewhere. The nylon NATOs available in 18, 20, and 22mm widths, and sell for £9.95 or $16.53 USD.
The "Classic Bond" Zulu was a proper Bond regimental stripe in black and olive with red pinstripes. It is a 5-ring Zulu with chunky rounded hardware, a brushed finish, and a heavy nylon weave. Like the NATO, it too is sewn and welded. As you would expect from a Zulu, it is much stiffer than the NATO and has significantly more presence on the wrist. Sadly, I did not have Rolex Submariner on hand to model it, but those green stripes were pretty cool behind my Bulova Hack Commemorative. At 285mm, it is slightly longer than the ballistic NATO, but still managed to fit my 6.5" wrist after tucking the last bit of tail back through the second keeper. It is available in 20 and 22mm widths, three or five rings, for £12.95 or $21.53 USD.
The Glenwood leather NATO was the real beauty of this set. The strap is made of golden brown Italian leather that is brushed on top, sueded on the bottom, and wonderfully soft. The hardware is the slim, squared style you expect on a NATO, but in a brushed finish with a removable buckle. The primary strap is two layers, sewn with matching thread, while the secondary strap is a single layer. That double thickness leather can be a challenge to fit on some watches, so check the clearance between your watch watch case and lug bars first. I put it on my Nixon Mellor, whose wire-look lugs will swallow just about anything, and it looked amazing. On the wrist, the strap is wonderfully supple, and with some careful positioning of the watch head, the 270mm length did not leave excess tail. The strap usually sells for £19.99 but is currently on sale for £14.95 or $24.85 USD.
The straps are every bit as nice as Victor & Wells promised they would be. As for pricing, I believe the leather offers excellent value for the money, and the NATO is in the ballpark, but at over $20 USD the Zulu is more expensive than its competition. Shipping is free in the UK, and $5.80 to the US but orders over £50/$83 ship free. UK purchasers will be getting the best deal, but I recommend my fellow Yanks have a look as well. The Glenwood leather is a particularly nice strap and a heck of a good deal right now.