I sometimes say I got into watches because I got into straps. I really enjoy swapping different styles, colors, and materials to change the look of my watches, and I am always on the look out for new options. This is why I had to stop and think when the guys at Watch Bandit wrote to ask why I hadn't mentioned Perlon before. Why indeed? The fact is, I've been curious about these woven straps for some time, but just hadn't gotten around to trying one so they hooked me up with a few samples for this review.
Perlon is the trade name for Nylon 6. Unlike other nylons that are formed by condensing materials, Nylon 6 is formed through open-ring polymerization, which sounds terribly impressive but means absolutely nothing to me. Suffice to say it is flexible, exceptionally strong, and used in a wide range of high-stress applications including gears, auto parts, toothbrush bristles, and musical instrument strings.
Perlon watch straps first became popular in the 1960's. The straps are a weave of flattened filaments, about 1mm thick. The Watch Bandit straps are 270mm long, between 18-22mm wide. They use a flat, polished stainless steel buckle with a full frame and two center bars through which the end is threaded, similar to a glide buckle but fitted with a conventional pin tang. No holes are necessary because the weave is just loose enough to accept the pin, allowing for a perfect adjustment on your wrist. Both ends are heat sealed on the underside.
I knew all of this before opening the box, but I had never actually handled one. "Uh oh," I thought as I pulled them out of the box, "this can't be good." In pictures, the material looks like a soft fabric, but quite the opposite, it is stiff with a hard edge. It makes a typical nylon NATO feel like a goose down pillow. Once I got over my initial resistance, I put one on a watch, strapped it on, and discovered much to my surprise that it felt perfectly comfortable. Better still, the Perlon has a relatively loose weave when compared to a NATO so it breathes on the wrist and does not retain water, making it well suited for diving and other outdoor activities.
These thin, solid color straps suit a wide range of watches. I liked them best on dive watches and others that have vintage design elements. They are highly functional, but the simple design and absence of extra hardware makes them appear more tailored than a NATO so I had no qualms about wearing them with a summer weight suit. It was fun to experiment with the highly saturated colors. I got a real kick out of the yellow strap on the an Electric California Carroway, where it popped against the blue dial and captured the shocking yellow second hand.