Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! This Sunday, I’ll be reviewing a host of straps from homegrown strap company, Nomad Watch Works.
A week ago, I ordered a strap from them for my newly acquired HMT Vijay. When the parcel arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it contained not 1, but 3 straps! Turns out, the founder of Nomad Watch Works – Bing – recognized me when he was processing the order, and threw in 2 additional straps for me to have a look at. At that instant, I immediately knew that they would make for great content on the website!
Nomad Watch Works – the Brand
I asked Bing out to chat about his straps, watches, and horology in general over coffee – I’ve transcribed a selection portion of our conversation below!
1) Tell us more about Nomad Watch Works, and what you aim to achieve.
B: Nomad Watch Works carries a wide range of high quality, beautifully designed watch bands and accessories designed to be functional, dependable and stylish. We want to be the industry’s most trusted local online retailer of watch-related products.
2) What got you into the business of selling straps?
B: I started an online shop selling various fashion accessories at the beginning including a small collection of watch straps. However, the watch straps that I carried outsold just about everything else. That, together with my interest in watches, I decided to develop the store into all watch-related store.
3) Out of the straps that you carry, which is your favourite?
B: My favourite changes from time to time (since the shop introduce new models almost on a monthly basis). Right now, it has to be the seat belt Nato Strap. The store carry a wide variety of nato strap (such as the regular nylon Nato, premium Nato, RAF Nato and etc). Each series was brought in as an upgrade from the previous collection, and the seat belt is by far the softest, most comfortable and aesthetically pleasing Nato model. I have also received many feedback from customers raving about how much they love the strap.
4) Speaking about the straps you carry, you have quite a huge variety! Why choose to offer so many different SKUs – the inventory logistics must be hell!
B: I set out with the purpose of providing the straps for all type of watches regardless of whether you have a chunky diver, rustic vintage or a modern dress watch. I want every customer to be able to find something that are able to match their watches when they come onto the website. Inventory and logistics is manageable when there is a proper system place (though I have to say that I’m still trying to improve the efficiency of the system every day).
5) Lastly, between you and me (and my readers) – how do you manage to keep your prices of your straps so low?
B: Firstly, I think the ecommerce and online model have enable me to keep the overheads very low, which I can then pass on this savings to the consumers. Also, the store has grown to a stage where there is enough order volume for me to negotiate for better pricing with the factories.
Nomad Watch Works – Review
Bing sent me a variety of straps to review – let’s get started!
This was the original strap that I ordered from Nomad Watch Works. To be honest, I mostly ordered it because it looked decent, and was priced incredibly affordably (10 SGD!!!). Out of all the places I’ve scoured online, this was the only genuine leather strap that I could find for $10.
When the strap arrived, I was extremely surprised by its quality. The embossing on the strap was actually pretty decent, with it mimicking the patterning of a genuine alligator strap quite closely. It also came pre-waxed/polished, so there was a glossy sheen to the strap that made it look much more expensive that it actually was. I have to say, the looks of this strap exceeded my expectations.
An area I was really impressed by was the stitched strap loops – it was not a feature that I expected at this price point. Usually, cheaper straps tend to use strap loops that are glued together instead, which are less durable and more prone to coming apart as compared to stitched loops. Overall, I’m very pleased with my purchase! Considering that the strap retails for only $10 SGD, I think that this strap is a steal. The only indicator of its low price tag is in the thinness of the strap – generally, thicker strap costs more due to material costs. However, if you don’t mind its thinness (like me), I think this strap represents an absurd amount of value. Rating: 9/10.
Nomad Watch Works offers a whole host of NATO straps – one of the best-sellers is the rubber NATO. When Bing sent this over to me, I was extremely intrigued. To be honest, it was my first time interacting with a rubber NATO!
Due to its thinness (1mm), the strap is almost imperceptible on the wrist, which is a nice change from those beefy, rubber straps one usually sees on divers. I’m not a fan of those thick silicone straps – in Singapore’s humid weather, I find that it traps sweat easily. Furthermore, the usage of silicone here gives the strap a slight elasticity, ensuring that there is no tension when you bend/flex your wrist. I personally loved pairing it with the BOLDR Voyager Pacific – not only does it look great, it is super comfortable on the wrist as well.
As with the first strap, I’m extremely pleased with the quality of the rubber NATO from Nomad Watch Works. The thin, silicone strap makes it a comfortable wear on the wrist, and it fulfills the most essential function of a strap – to highlight the beauty of the watch. At a mere $15 SGD, I think its a great bang for buck. Rating: 9/10.
The next strap that Bing sent me was one of Nomad Watch Works’ new arrivals – the “seat belt” NATO. For those wondering, this particular type of NATO is termed “seat belt” due to the type of nylon webbing that it utilizes, which closely resembles the feel and texture of seat belts. I decided to pair it with my customised Eoniq watch to dress it down!
Again, even at its affordable price point, the build quality of Nomad Watch Work’s seat belt NATO is pretty decent! I was especially pleased to see that the strap came with stitched joints for reinforced durability. In addition, the hardware is pretty solid too, and made wide enough to accommodate extra folded fabric. The holes are laser cut as well to prevent rough edges. Pretty good stuff for $18 SGD!
On the wrist, the silky texture of the seat belt NATO, coupled with its thinness (1.4mm) makes for a comfortable wear. Personally, it my first time wearing a seat belt NATO, and I have to say I’m now a convert! Again, I think Nomad Watch Works knocked it out of the park with the strap. When one considers that Gnomon watches offer similar seat belt straps for twice the price, the value proposition of this strap shoots through the roof. Rating: 9/10.
Next up, we have a genuine leather strap, alligator embossed, and befitted with a deployant clasp. It’s a strap probably most suited with a dress watch (due to the deployant clasp), therefore I fitted it onto my Rumoe Nobel Royal.
As compared to the previous straps, I found this particular one a tad underwhelming. It’s nice to see the strap coming with stitched strap loops, and the stitching is nice and even, but that’s about it for me. The leather feels stiff, and it’s evident that the inside of the strap is padded with cardboard. Even after a week or so of breaking in, the strap is still not very comfortable on the wrist. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not uncomfortable, but comfort and suppleness are definitely not its strengths! In addition the deployant clasp fitted on the strap is sometimes hard to close, and can only be best described as functional.
As compared to the previous straps which punched way above their price point, I’m afraid this one simply underwhelmed – though admittedly a very high bar was set by the previous straps. To sum up, this looks and feel like a $20 strap, with a deployant clasp fitted on. That being said, at $20 this is probably one of the cheapest leather straps with a deployant clasp that you can find. If you are specifically looking for straps with deployant clasps, I think this strap offers good value at $20. However, if you don’t absolutely need a strap with a deployant clasp, I think there are other straps from Nomad Watch Works that provides better value. Rating: 6/10.
Here’s a rare one! Nomad Watch Works currently offers a limited selection of quick-release straps on their web-store. Although quick-release straps have become increasingly common on watches (especially on fashion and microbrand watches), for some reason physical retailers still do not offer quick-release straps. When I was actively searching for a quick-release alternative for my Reverie GT, I popped by City Chain, as well as Watch Wonderland, but both physical retailers did not have quick-release strap options.
I love that Nomad Watch Works makes it a point to ensure that all strap loops on their straps – even at their low price point – comes stitched. For this particular strap, I like that there is a little hand-stitching involved as well on the tip of the strap. However, the stitching on the inner-side of the strap is a bit wonky, with cracks visible around some areas of the stitching. That’s a shame, as the rest of the strap is really well-done.
The quick-release function of the strap is easy to use, and popping it on my Reverie GT was a breeze. In terms of looks, the strap is a stunner as well. The stitching mimics that of a hand-stitched strap, and the strap has a felt/suede texture that feels luxurious to the touch, and again looks much more expensive than its actual price tag. Unlike the previous leather strap, this quick-release strap is supple, soft, and feels comfortable on the wrist. Overall, if you’re looking for a quick-release strap, I think this is quite a good option at only $26 SGD! Rating: 8/10.
Nomad Watch Work’s vintage straps are actually some of their best-selling straps! And strapping it on, it’s easy to see why. The leather looks good, with mine developing a subtle, aged patina in a relatively short amount of time. The leather feels good to the touch too – again, it certainly belies its low price tag! On the wrist, the strap is soft and supple, making for a comfortable wear.
As standard with Nomad Watch Works’ straps, the strap loops are again stitched for enhanced durability. In addition, the strap is of a nice thickness as well, giving it a substantial and reassuring feel on the wrist. For those that find the first $10 strap too thin for their liking, I think that this is a great alternative! It certainly justifies the price difference, with this vintage strap both looking and feeling more premium than the $10 one.
In addition, the side stitching on the strap is hand-stitched. I think that at this price ($28 SGD), getting a strap with hand-stitched elements is a steal. Sure, the side-stitching are merely for aesthetics, and fulfills no practical function, but I still love it nonetheless as it adds a nice rustic touch to the strap aesthetically. Again, I think that Nomad Watch Works has knocked it out of the park with this one! Rating: 9/10.
Made popular by fashion label Prada, Saffiano leather is known for its cross-hatch texture, as well as scratch and stain resisting properties. However, do note that Saffiano leather is still made from genuine leather, stamped and treated to give it its iconic texture. It is NOT a different type of leather, unlike shell cordovan for example (which is a totally different variant of leather).
As per the norm, the strap loop is stitched for enhanced durability, and the stitching on the saffiano strap looks good – in fact, it’s probably the best out of all the full-stitched straps thus far! The lining on the saffiano strap is soft too, making it comfortable to wear on the wrist. However, the strap is a little stiff out of the box, though it did improve after some breaking in.
Overall, if you’re a fan of the saffiano design, and appreciate its scratch and stain resisting properties, I think the saffiano strap from Nomad Watch Works makes for a compelling proposition at just $30 SGD. Once again, I think you will be hard pressed to find a cheaper, saffiano textured strap on the market! However, one should note that while original Saffiano (the one made popular by Prada and used in their iconic handbags) were made from the finest quality calf leather and only in Italian tanneries, today saffiano leather is made throughout the world, often by simply pressing the saffiano texture upon a cheap, genuine leather strap – although you can’t tell because the saffiano print covers and hides original imperfections on the leather. That’s probably the reason why Nomad Watch Works are able to offer saffiano straps for just $30 SGD. I’m not saying that the saffiano straps by Nomad Watch Works are of low quality, but please don’t buy the straps and expect the same level of detailing and quality seen on Prada bags! Rating: 8/10.
I saved the best for last. While Nomad Watch Works are mostly renowned for their huge range of extremely affordable – under $30 SGD – straps, they are now trying to move upmarket with their new range of exotic leather watch straps, currently available in genuine alligator, python, and stingray. I appreciate Nomad Watch Works for offering a more premium line – I think it’s important for consumers to see Nomad Watch Works as more than just a company that sells cheap watch straps!
As usual, the strap loops on the python strap I received are stitched for greater durability, with the stitching on the inner-side of the strap looking nice and even as well, without fraying. In addition, I think the subtle side-stitching at the tip of the strap is a nice touch! Also, the lining on the strap feels much more premium as compared to the prior lower-priced offerings, and translate to a comfortable wear. However, the edges of the strap are not sanded off properly, resulting in the edges of the straps (as seen in the photo above) being rough to the touch. On the wrist, this means the sides occasionally dig into the skin (especially when you flex/bend your wrist), and is a minor annoyance. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but signs of cost-cutting can be seen here.
Overall though, I do think that the strap is a good value buy, especially at its price point of just $79 SGD. For reference, handcrafted python straps from established leathercrafting companies cost at least thrice the price. If you’re looking for an exotic strap to “zhng” your watch, but don’t want to leave a hole in your wallet, I think this strap would be a great choice! Also, if you’re thinking about mixing things up with an exotic strap, but remain undecided on whether the look suits you, exotic straps from Nomad Watch Works represent an affordable way to get into the exotic game and experiment! Rating: 8/10.
Conclusion – so Nomad Watch Works “shiok” or not?
All in all, I’m mighty impressed by the quality of Nomad Watch Works’ straps, especially considering their ultra-affordable price point! Most of their straps really punch above their weight, and could easily pass off for something twice the price.
For those interested in getting straps from Nomad Watch Works, they have kindly provided a promo code for my readers! Simply quote “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout for 10% off store-wide. Paired with the discount, most of their straps are now available to be had for a steal. Furthermore, for orders of 3 straps and more, a free spring bar removal tool is included. For Singapore orders, there is even free local shipping! I highly encourage you guys to try out Nomad Watch Works’ products for yourselves – with straps as low as $7 SGD (before promo code!), what is there to lose?
View Nomad Watch Works’ extensive range of straps here.
Update: I reviewed a couple more straps from Nomad Watch Works in a follow up article here.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!