Seiko Watch Straps: A Guide to Styles and Materials

One aspect of a watch's appearance that’s easy to overlook is the strap or bracelet it's paired with. Seiko offers a variety of watch straps, each with its unique style, material, and functionality, and of course there are aftermarket straps available too. The right strap can completely transform your timepiece, making it even more versatile and enjoyable to wear.

So here’s a look at the world of Seiko watch straps, exploring the different styles and materials available. Whether you're looking for a replacement strap, an upgrade, or simply want to customize your Seiko watch, this guide should help you find the perfect match.

Genuine Seiko Straps and Bracelets

As watch aficionados, we appreciate the design, craftsmanship and quality of Seiko's timepieces. This extends to the original bracelets and straps that come with their watches. When you purchase a brand new Seiko watch, you can expect it to be paired with a strap or bracelet that complements its design and function.

Seiko's original straps are available in a variety of materials, such as stainless steel, leather, rubber, and more. They are designed to offer optimal comfort and durability while seamlessly integrating with the watch case. For instance, the popular Seiko dive watches often come with stainless steel bracelets, or rubber or silicone straps, providing water resistance and a secure fit on the wrist.

While the original Seiko straps and bracelets are of high quality, you might want to explore other options to customize your watch or replace a worn-out strap. Aftermarket straps give you a much broader choice, not just in design and materials but also budget. The following sections will introduce you to various strap styles and materials, allowing you to find the perfect match for your Seiko watch.

Leather Straps

Three vintage Seiko watches with aftermarket leather straps.
Vintage Seiko watches with aftermarket leather straps.

Leather straps have long been a classic and timeless choice, adding an air of sophistication and elegance to any timepiece. They are a versatile option, suitable for both casual and formal occasions, and are available in a range of styles and finishes.

When it comes to Seiko watches, leather straps can greatly enhance the appearance of various models, from dress watches to sports chronographs. There are different types of leather to choose from, such as genuine leather, calfskin, alligator, and crocodile. Each type of leather has its unique texture, pattern, and feel, allowing you to select the one that best suits your taste and complements your watch.

Popular Seiko models that pair well with leather straps include the Seiko Presage line, known for its classic design and dressy appeal, and the Seiko Chronograph models, which can be given a more refined look with a high-quality leather strap.

When selecting a leather strap for your Seiko watch, it's important to consider factors such as the width of the strap (including lug width), the color, and the type of buckle or clasp. Additionally, remember to care for your leather strap by keeping it clean and conditioning it periodically, ensuring it remains supple and maintains its appearance over time. For conditioning, I use saddle soap which I’ve found works really well.

Metal Bracelets

Two Seiko watches with stainless steel bracelets.
Seiko watches with stainless steel bracelets.

Metal bracelets offer a sleek and durable option for your Seiko watch, combining style with functionality. They are particularly well-suited for daily wear, as they are resistant to wear and tear and can be easily adjusted for a comfortable fit.

There are various materials to choose from when it comes to metal bracelets, such as stainless steel, titanium, and gold-plated options. Stainless steel is a popular choice due to its durability, affordability, and resistance to corrosion. Titanium, on the other hand, is known for its lightweight and hypoallergenic properties, making it a great option for those with sensitive skin.

Two Seiko diving watches with titanium bracelets.
Seiko diving watches with titanium bracelets.
Two Seiko watches with titanium bracelets and two with stainless steel bracelets.
Comparing bracelets with different metals — the two on the left are titanium, the two on the right are stainless steel.

Gold-plated bracelets add a touch of luxury and elegance to your Seiko watch, although they may require more care to maintain their appearance. If you can’t decide, there are also two-tone bracelets available combining stainless steel and gold plating.

Some Seiko watches and bracelets are available with a PVD (physical vapour deposition) finish too. This steel matte black coating gives the watch a sleek, subtle look but over the years it can wear off, especially around sharp corners and edges. Finding a vintage watch with mint condition PVD coating can be a real challenge.

A Seiko 7A28-7110 chronograph watch from 1983. The PVD coating is wearing off at the edges.
A Seiko 7A28-7110 chronograph watch from 1983. Sadly the PVD coating is wearing off at the edges.

Seiko models that look great with metal bracelets include the Seiko Prospex series, which features robust sports watches and dive watches, and the Seiko Coutura line, known for its modern design and sophisticated style.

When selecting a metal bracelet, it's essential to consider factors such as the width of the bracelet (including lug width), the type of clasp, and the finish (brushed or polished). Additionally, remember to clean and maintain your metal bracelet regularly to keep it looking its best and to prevent any potential damage. A horse-hair brush is perfect for removing light dirt from small crevices, whereas to really make them shine I actually clean my watch bracelets with black tea.

NATO and ZULU Straps

Two Seiko watches with NATO straps.
Seiko watches with NATO straps. The one on the left is aftermarket.

Personally, NATO straps are my favourite, thanks to how versatile they are – I can easily swap straps based on my mood or clothing. Both NATO and ZULU straps draw inspiration from their military origins, and offer durability, comfort, and a casual aesthetic that can add a unique touch to your Seiko watch.

While NATO and ZULU straps share some similarities, they also have distinct differences. NATO straps are typically made from nylon and feature a single-piece construction that threads through the watch's lug bars. They often have a slimmer profile and include an additional strap that sits behind the watch case, providing added security. ZULU straps, on the other hand, tend to be thicker and more rugged, with a single-piece construction that does not include the additional strap behind the watch case. ZULU straps also often feature larger, more robust hardware compared to NATO straps.

Seiko dive watches and sports models, such as the Seiko SKX and the Seiko 5 Sports series, pair exceptionally well with NATO and ZULU straps. The durability and water resistance of these straps make them an excellent choice for outdoor activities and water sports.

When choosing a NATO or ZULU strap for your Seiko watch, consider factors such as the strap's width, color, and hardware finish. Both types of straps are available in a wide range of colors and patterns, allowing you to personalize your Seiko watch to match your style and preferences.

Rubber and Silicone Straps

A Seiko 7S26-0040 watch with silicone rubber-like strap.
A Seiko 7S26-0040 watch with silicone rubber-like strap.

For those of us who value comfort, water resistance, and flexibility, rubber and silicone straps are popular choices. Both materials are lightweight and easy to clean, making them ideal for active lifestyles, sports, and outdoor activities.

Rubber and silicone (rubber-like) straps are very similar, and sometimes the only way to know which is best for you is to actually feel the straps yourself. Their characteristics can also vary a lot depending on the manufacturer and strap quality. In general though, silicone straps have a softer feel but can be more prone to attracting dust and lint than rubber straps. Both materials come in various colors and designs, allowing you to find a strap that complements your Seiko watch.

Seiko dive watches, such as the Seiko Prospex series, and sports models, like the Seiko 5 Sports range, are well-suited for rubber or silicone straps. The water resistance and secure fit provided by these straps make them a practical and stylish choice for those who enjoy water activities or require a strap that can withstand the rigors of daily wear.

When selecting a rubber or silicone strap, consider factors such as the strap's width, color, and buckle or clasp type. Additionally, remember to clean your strap regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt, sweat, and other debris that may cause it to degrade over time. I tend to just clean them with soap, warm water and a toothbrush.

There other not-so-common materials available as well (e.g. canvas or exotic materials like ostrich or lizard leather) but the four discussed above represent the most widespread choice, whether you prefer aftermarket or genuine Seiko. Hopefully this guide has helped you find the perfect Seiko watch strap for your wrist, and we also have a list of some watch strap suppliers. Happy hunting!

N.b. The Seiko watches featured in this guide are:

If you liked this, check out more articles about repairing, restoring and enjoying Seiko watches.