Whether you are an enthusiastic watch collector or just using it as a timekeeping gadget, you probably must have heard of 'NATO bands'. I think the credit should go to the NATO bands that watch bands earned an independent position as an essential part of a wristwatch than just an accessory.

hen how did they get the name 'NATO' bands? The band itself was first made and issued by British Ministry of Defense(MoD), but the name originated from 'NATO Stock Number(NSN)' which is a classification code given to every military equipment that North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces use, ranging from soldier's socks to high-tech guided missiles.
According to MoD's 1973 specification "Defense Standard 66-4", the watch band was tagged as 'NSN 6645-99-124-2986'. People probably began calling it NATO watch band by the first letter of the NSN acronym, because the 13-digit numbering was simply too long for a product name.

Its design has little changed since then: military-grade heavy duty nylon webbing, British Navy's official steel grey color, and additional metal clips on both sides in case the watch's spring bars may be broken or lost.
Utilitarian like any other military equipment, NATO band also has a unique functional attractiveness by itself. If you properly match the color of the band with you watch head, you will discover a new face of your watch different from steel bracelet or leather strap.
For your information, many think olive green was the original color of the British NATO band, but as mentioned above it was actually grey color and there is no known record of other colors used by the British military. It's up to your taste about the color, but please keep in mind that olive green has nothing to do with originality.
Because of the 'military look' fashion trend going on for the past decade, many customers fell in love with NATO bands' tactical design without redundancy. Various stripe patterns of the band also became popular as a reminder of Paul Smith's or Tom Ford's trendy design.

For the time being, NATO bands will continue to be a hit item thanks to its availability in a wide variety and cheap price. This trend shall also come to pass, but it is unlikely to happen any time soon because major Swiss watch brands (Breitling, Blancpain, Tudor, Chanel) have already started including NATO bands in the official package of their products.