Hello everyone – welcome back to another of my reviews. In today’s article, I’ll be reviewing some watch straps – and a watch kit – from local strap label RSM.
RSM has built a steady following on social media, with over 5000 followers on Instagram to date. A big part of that growth is the beautiful photography of its feed, where its straps often look stunning. The brand even got a mention in GQ, which prompted me to reach out to RSM. They kindly sent over some of their best-selling straps – let’s see if they are any good.
RSM Watch Straps – Video Review
For those interested in seeing some hands-on footage of the straps, do check out my Youtube review below:
RSM Watch Straps – the Brand
RSM was founded by a Singaporean architect in 2019. He was frustrated by the generic nature of NATO straps – “All NATO straps looked the same back then,” he said – and craved for more exciting offerings. With an eye for design, he decided to do a few prototypes and shared them with friends and family. After receiving positive feedback, he took a leap of faith and started RSM Watch Straps.
The brand’s mascot is a walrus, with its tagline being “Wear a Walrus”. The brand states that it’s part of its social responsibility mission to sway consumers to lead a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, and to be conscious of how our actions here in Singapore can have an environmental impact elsewhere by using walruses in the North Pole as an example. I personally think that is a bit of a stretch, but nevertheless I appreciate RSM for having a noble social mission – it’s probably the only watch strap brand with one.
First up is the brand’s latest offering – the VTG Mil Green 2 Piece.
The VTG Mil Green is fashioned from olive canvas that RSM says “may trigger your memory of school bags, ammo pouches or other gears from the past”. It reminds me of the canvas straps from army helmets of old, and also of the Military Webbing strap from Obbi Good Label.
However, due to its 2-piece nature, I found the VTG Mil Green from RSM to be more comfortable on the wrist than its Obbi Good Label counterpart. It’s slimmer too, making it more appropriate for thinner watches such as my Hamilton Khaki Mechanical.
The hardware on the VTG Mil Green is crafted from electro-plated zinc alloy, which has a distressed aesthetic that makes the strap looks like it’s been through war. According to the brand, the plating and oxide formed on the hardware surfaces protect the zinc alloy from rusting. When paired field watches like my Hamilton Khaki Mechanical – which also has a distressed titanium case – it’s a match made in heaven.
I should highlight the buckle design, which again reminds me of the buckle of helmet straps – very on-theme. Overall, I really enjoyed the VTG Mil Green 2 Piece strap. It’s comfortable, looks great when paired with military watches, and is almost half the price of the Obbi Good Label alternative at just US$54/~S$73 (after promo code below). What’s not to like?
NATO straps are a dime a dozen in the local market, but the Engraved Stripe series from RSM tries to separate itself from its competition by simply being better engineered.
RSM states that painstaking work has been paid to ensure the strap is of the optimal thickness. I concur – the strap is thick enough to be robust (I paired it with my Tudor Black Bay Dark as well), but thin enough to not only feel low on the wrist, but also slide through the spring bars easily. It’s a balance that not many NATO straps nail.
On the wrist, the fabric feels silky smooth and premium to the touch – a far cry from the scratchy nylon NATOs from Aliexpress.
According to RSM, the centre stripe is actually recessed via what it calls a “jacquard weaving technique”. In other words, the centre is thinner than the rest of the strap, which allows it to slide through spring bars with ease, yet still retaining a robust structure due to the thicker sides. It also plays an aesthetic function, as the jacquard weave provides a textural juxtaposition to the rest of the strap.
The hardware is sturdy and well-milled, allowing the strap to feel secure on the wrist. Overall, the Engraved Stripe series from RSM has to be one of the best engineered NATO straps I’ve ever reviewed. The catch is that it’s also the priciest at US$45/~S$60 (after promo code below), though I think it’s well worth the premium.
The Herringbone Twill series was RSM’s debut collection, and it continues to be one of the brand’s bestselling lines.
RSM states that the strap is inspired by the historical M1941 HBT uniform issued to American soldiers during WWII, where the Herringbone Twill pattern was first introduced to prevent the fabric from ripping during the rigours of war. Robust and comfortable, the brand decided to apply the same concept to its NATO straps.
I found the Herringbone Twill strap to be comfortable on the wrist, though less so than the abovementioned Engraved Stripe strap. It feels slightly rougher and stiffer, and it did take a few wears to break in the strap. Still, this is mostly personal preference – I know of others who prefer their NATO straps stiffer for more support.
However, I really adore the Herringbone Twill texture of the strap. As someone who’s into tailoring – where Herringbone and Twill are two common clothing textures – there’s a sartorial element to the strap that I appreciate. The weave is done well too, in a clear and defined manner, resulting in an eminently striking strap.
Like the Engraved Stripe strap, the hardware on the Herringbone Twill strap is well-made, with prominent satin-brushing visible. In general, I do like the Herringbone Twill strap, mostly due to its handsome Herringbone patterning. However, it does feel less unique as compared to the other two straps – there are plenty of alternatives available, even in the local market. And although it is well-crafted, it’s also a tad pricey at US$40/~S$54 (after promo code below). Still, if you’re on the hunt for a well-made NATO strap with a Herringbone weave, RSM’s Herringbone Twill strap should definitely be on your consideration list.
RSM Watch Straps – W.I.S Kit
For those wondering, W.I.S stands for “watch idiot savant”, which is slang for those idiotic enough to be obsessed with watches. To cater to us illogical enthusiasts, RSM – in collaboration with TY Alexander – introduced a watch kit that’s perfect for watch meetups and travel.
The W.I.S Kit is available in two materials, namely crazy horse leather (pictured above) and waxed canvas. Despite its name, crazy horse leather does not come from actual horses. Instead, crazy horse leather was named as such because the same form of leather is traditionally used to make horse saddles. Crazy horse leather is produced by applying a specific kind of wax to a full-grain calf leather piece that has been buffed and smoothed out. Over time, the colour and texture of the kit will develop patina, giving it a unique, vintage look.
The W.I.S Kit is actually pretty svelte – it’s only 25.5cm in length, 21cm in width, and 5.8mm thick. It feels very much like a clutch bag, and it is very handy to carry around.
On the inside, the W.I.S Kit is engineered to carry at least three watches (three watch pouches on the right), with an additional three pouches available for miscellaneous items (watch straps, lighters, name cards, etc), though I found that it is possible to fit smaller watches in them too. There are also cigar slots available (the velcro straps on the left), but as I don’t smoke I mainly used them to carry around a spare pair of sunglasses. I think that speaks to the versatility of the W.I.S Kit – it’s not just limited to watches or watch straps, unlike most of the other watch travel pouches on the market. And at US$175/~S$236 (after promo code below), it’s somewhat affordable for a full-leather offering, although those who still find it pricey can opt for the cheaper waxed canvas option.
Conclusion – so RSM Watch Straps “shiok” or not?
In my opinion, RSM Watch Straps makes some of the best NATO straps in the market and does so without breaking the bank. It is slightly more expensive than conventional mass-market options, but still significantly more affordable than the NATO straps from Omega/Tudor. However, my favourite would probably be the VTG Mil Green 2 Piece strap – it’s unique, good-looking, and well-priced. The W.I.S Kit is interesting as well, and I’ll probably use it every time I go to a watch meetup or travel.
Those interested in purchasing from RSM Straps can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all products from its webstore. The brand tells me that more intriguing offerings will be launched later this year – can’t wait.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.