An Overview Of The Watches Of Espionage Strap Collection

An Overview Of The Watches Of Espionage Strap Collection

Materials, History, Fit, & Which Strap Is Right For You

One of the most common ways for members of our community to customize their watches is with a new strap that is, in either material or design, more appropriate for austere conditions. Over the past couple of years, we have grown our strap collection to include more refined options made from domestically sourced leather and more attainable choices designed to excel in the most extreme scenarios.

We are often asked what is the best strap for a given use case, and in this Dispatch, we’ll provide an overview of our strap collection including some pros and cons, historical and design background, and recommendations based on some of the questions we are most commonly asked. As always, everything we make is developed for the quiet professional, someone who appreciates the history of Intelligence and Special Operations and honors those who came before us.

W.O.E. Fabric Straps

watches of espionage five eye premium nylon watch strap military

Closely associated with military watches, pull-through fabric watch straps trace their origins to the mid-century when they were utilized by American and British armed forces, with the most popular format tracing dating back to 1973 and a British Military design known as the G10. Commonly issued to the British Ministry of Defense, the G10 also cemented the formula for the majority of nylon watch straps to follow. In starting our collection of fabric watch straps, we partnered with veteran-owned and UK-based Zulu Alpha Straps to create the most premium fabric straps possible which are also manufactured in Great Britain. Then, to provide a more attainable alternative that also conforms to the obsessive quality standards of our community, we designed the Five Eye nylon strap that we believe is the best on the market for the price.

Five Eye Nylon Watch Strap - $35-38

five eye nylon watch strap military tornek rayville tr-660

Named after the intelligence-sharing alliance of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the Five Eye (FVEY) Nylon Watch Strap is our modern take on the iconic British Military G10 design from 1973. This collection is more attainable compared to our Zulu Alpha collaborations while still providing a premium wearing experience and unrivaled durability for a watch of this style. The Five Eye is built from a custom matte woven material with a reinforced stitched tip and is complete with our custom stainless steel hardware. We didn’t reinvent the wheel but did take the original design to the next level with modern materials, manufacturing standards, and colors tailored to the unique needs of our community.

To suit a wider variety of watches, we offer solid colors, striped variants, and Five Eye straps with black-coated PVD hardware, all in 20 and 22-mm sizes that will fit wrists from 6.25 to 9 IN (15.9 to 22.9 CM). Of note, like all “affordable” nylon straps, these are produced in Asia.

Cons: With almost four hundred five-star reviews, the Five Eye doesn’t have a lot of cons, but like any nylon strap, the look isn’t elegant or refined and wouldn’t be a great pairing for dressier watches.

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Glomar Explorer - Hook And Loop Watch Strap - $45 

watches of espionage glomar explorer hook loop velcro strap dive watch

Modeled off traditional hook-and-loop dive watch straps, the Glomar Explorer is a premium single-pass adjustable adventure strap for those who use their watches as tools. We set out to create a premium “hook and loop” watch strap, something that many consider an oxymoron. After many iterations over a six-month period and extensive testing, we finally came up with the design of the Glomar Explorer. We developed an ultra-thin custom matte weave nylon construction, a custom 316L stainless steel engraved buckle, and a strap keeper to ensure the watch remains secure on your wrist. The Glomar Explorer is available in two lengths, Short (for wrists between 5.5 to 6.5 IN/14 to 16.5 CM) and Standard (for wrists between 6.5 to 8.5 IN/16.5 to 21.5 CM), and in two colors: black and admiralty grey with olive green coming soon.

The strap name is derived from USNS Hughes Glomar Explorer, a deep-sea drillship platform that was used by the CIA to recover a Soviet submarine K-129 in the Pacific Ocean in 1974. To be clear, this is not your grandpa’s Walmart hook and loop strap.

Cons: With a casual and utilitarian look, a hook and loop strap simply isn’t going to be for everyone. Sizing will also be an issue for some as the wearing experience will depend on the lug length of the watch in question, wrist size, and how tightly the strap is worn. 

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Single Pass Zulu Alpha Strap 4.0 - $145

watches of espionage zulu alpha premium 4.0 strap single pass

It’s crazy to think we’re on the fourth iteration of our collaboration with Zulu Alpha, one of the world’s premier makers of fabric straps and a supplier of other webbing items to the British Ministry of Defense (MOD). Back in 2022, we started with the 1.0, with each subsequent variant incorporating color changes and small upgrades inspired by the community. Our Single Pass Zulu Alpha 4.0 is the culmination of everything we’ve learned working with Zulu Alpha and direct feedback from end users.

Completely constructed in Great Britain, the 4.0 is 11.8 IN (30 CM) long, 1.2mm thick, and complete with a uniquely adhered patch with the W.O.E. Spearhead logo. Secured by way of an over-engineered stainless steel buckle that is also available with a PVD finish, the 4.0 is available in both 20 and 22-mm widths and will fit the vast majority of adult wrists. If you’re looking for the most premium, capable, and durable fabric strap on the market, this is it, full stop.

Cons: Every aspect of our Zulu Alpha straps is ultra-premium, produced entirely in the UK, and designed without compromise. The price reflects our no-holds-barred approach to a fabric watch strap for the most extreme conditions.

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USA Five Eye - Third Option Foundation - $40

watches of espionage third option foundation nylon five eye strap military usa

While it’s otherwise the same as our standard Five Eye Straps, our USA Third Option Foundation Fundraiser offers the most eye-catching visual format in our entire collection with a subtle play on the red, white, and blue color scheme. Benefitting CIA paramilitary officers and their families, $20 (50%) of every USA Five Eye sale goes directly to Third Option Foundation. Just as at home sipping PBR in your local dive bar as it is sailing the Cape on your dad’s catamaran, the USA Stripe Five Eye is the undisputed strap of summer. Available in both 20 and 22mm, the USA Five Eye can also be purchased with PVD hardware, a look works a lot better than we thought it would.

Cons: Celebrating freedom and donating to charity aren’t for everyone.  This strap is a limited edition. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

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W.O.E Leather Straps

watches of espionage leather strap collection jedburgh horween

While there is a lot of virtue signaling and overstated marketing language associated with goods that are “Made in America”, supporting small businesses in the United States is in line with our core beliefs as a community. This is especially true when it comes to leather goods. There is no shortage of reasonably high-quality leather straps imported from Asia, but we believe the finest leather straps come from right here in the USA or, in some cases, Europe. 

With that in mind, our collection of leather straps is entirely produced by hand in small batches from the finest quality materials in the United States or Europe, with each strap demonstrating subtle differences and the ability to patina over time for a custom look and feel. Like all leather straps, these are not your best options for use in or around water but do provide a durable and handsome pairing for field watches, vintage divers on desk duty, or any other refined watch in your collection.

Jedburgh Leather Watch Strap - $125

watches of espionage leather jedburgh strap

Named after the Jedburgh teams of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), “The Jedburgh” was W.O.E’s first leather strap, handmade in the USA with American-made English bridle leather. Available to fit 20 and 22-mm lugs, the Jedburgh is complete with a subtle W.O.E. Spearhead stamp at the tip, white hand stitching throughout, and a buckle available in either polished stainless steel or black-coated PVD. The Jedburgh is designed to break in for a comfortable custom fit that is best for wrists between 5.75 to 7.5 IN (14.6 to 19.1 CM). For a refined look, the Jedburgh also tapers 4 millimeters from the lugs to the buckle, meaning the buckle measures 16mm on the 20mm strap and 18mm for the 22mm variant.

Cons: Tapering from 20 to 16mm and shorter than some of our straps, the Jedburgh is not the best choice for larger wrists or heavier watches. While we’ve seen some of you guys push the envelope, the Jedburgh is also not the best option for extreme use i.e. jumping out of airplanes.

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Horween Leather and Canvas Strap - $185

watches of espionage leather and canvas strap horween vintage camo

Produced in the United States in extremely limited quantities, our Leather and Canvas Strap pairs Horween leather tanned in Chicago with repurposed camouflage canvas from surplus military uniforms. These robust straps were designed by W.O.E. in collaboration with Greg Stevens Design, one of the best in the custom leather strap business, and manufactured by hand in Utah. Available in 20 and 22-mm widths, the Leather and Canvas strap is thicker than the Jedburgh and does not taper, making this strap an excellent choice for heavier watches while being designed to fit wrist sizes between 6.25 to 7.75 IN (15.9 to 19.7 CM). Given our use of repurposed military uniforms, this strap also offers a wide range of variation in terms of the actual color and condition of the canvas material. Complete with a signed stainless steel buckle, the Leather and Canvas Strap is a more rugged leather option ideally suited for larger watches and larger wrists.

Cons: Manufactured without taper and with a less subtle look compared to many of our straps, our Leather and Canvas Strap is unapologetically extreme and therefore not for everyone.

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Leather Single Pass Zulu - $92

watches of espionage leather single pass zulu

Our newest leather strap, the Leather Single Pass Zulu is intended to serve as a bridge between our leather strap collection and the legendary nylon pull-through straps long favored by military members and divers. Manufactured in the United States from a single layer of premium cowhide measuring 1.4mm thick, the Leather Single Pass Zulu also provides a “pull up” effect meaning the leather lightens when stretched or creased, creating a custom finish unique to your wearing experience. In comparison to many nylon pull-through straps, the tail on our Single Pass Zulu is shorter, and the hardware is closer together, designed for wrists up to 7.5 IN (19.1 CM). With hand stitching and more rugged leather material, the Single Pass Zulu is our most casual leather strap, pairing well with utilitarian tool watches. 

Cons: Despite being modeled after nylon straps designed for diving, this leather strap is not intended for in-water use. Wearing leather straps on dive watches is a controversial topic, anyway. 

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Final Thoughts: 

While we believe there is a strap in our collection that will work for virtually any watch or scenario, like choosing a new watch, strap selection is highly individual and personal. There is no one-size-fits-all solution and like with any tool, we encourage you to experiment and find out what works best for you. Subsequent iterations of our straps will always be informed by your feedback. Be sure to let us know what you think. 

View our entire strap collection HERE.

3 comments

Leather belongs on divers, there, I said it :)

The single pass WOE leather looks beautiful on every watch in my collection.

Justin

I also love the fact that the zulus seem to work so well with odd ball lug widths, namely the pelagos 39.

ANDREW W. CHESTNUT

I’m one (of many, I’m sure) that owns each and every strap iteration made by WoE.

My favorite, you ask?

Spoilers below:

My personal favorite is the allied green 1.0 single-pass made by ZuluAlpha. Glad I purchased two of them for my two Diver models.

Love the Five Eyes, too.

Pat

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