With the recent introduction of a number of "seatbelt"-styled straps from a number of different strap companies, I decided to pick up a few of them for comparison between them, as well as with my other NATO-style straps, so here are my thoughts and opinions on them. I have no affiliation with any of these companies, other than having purchased straps from them for my personal use and interest. I should also note that I have not worn or handled the Omega NATO strap, which seems to be the "gold standard" of comparison for NATO straps, so I am unfortunately unable to offer any comparison between these and the Omega one.
I will be going through them in alphabetical order, and the straps in question are:
BluShark: AlphaShark, Bond version.
Cincy Strap Works: "Seat Belt" SB, Black with grey edges version.
PhenomeNato: Black version (short length)
WatchGecko: Prototype ZuluDiver Seat Belt NATO.
First of all, some group shots. In the same order, from top-to-bottom or left-to-right:
You can see there are some significant differences in the material and weave.
Some close-up comparisons (sorry for the slightly out of focus middle picture):
For some individual thoughts:
BluShark AlphaShark strap
Not marketed as a "seatbelt" style strap, but nonetheless it seems a commonly recommended strap to those looking for a higher quality strap. Stated to be a 1.4mm "high sheen nylon weave", it is a thick strap. I confirmed the 1.4mm with a set of calipers, and I do have to note that some of my watches I cannot fit this strap on due to its thickness. This also does mean that the strap will cause the watch to sit higher up above the wrist as well.
The thread is fairly thick and the weave coarse, as can be seen in the photographs. The weave is dense though, and the strap has very little stretch when I pull on the ends, less so than I get from a run-of-the-mill NATO. The feeling of the fabric is nice and smooth, and the cuts and holes look well sealed. Stitching looks well done as well, however I did have a few spots of scratchiness on the skin where the ends of the stitching were heat sealed.
As you can see the hardware is pretty substantial, and I probably say on par or even a little bit nicer than those found on ToxicNATOs. Has "Shark" engraved on the large buckle. Due to the large tongue, the holes are cut quite large. I have some questions about whether this will positively or negatively affect the longevity, since there is more of the fabric cut away, but the larger tongue will also spread out the pulling forces on the strap over a larger area as well, rather than concentrating them in one spot. Only time will tell of course, but my feeling is that this will be a really tough strap.
Cincy Strap Works "SB" strap
Stated to be "1.2mm premium weaved nylon", it comes out to be slightly more than that when I measure it, at about 1.35mm. The fabric is somewhat more compressible and "cushiony" than all the other ones here, so I can squeeze it down to ~1.15mm. This does make the strap feel quite comfortable to wear, as it's got some give to it (though not as much as, say, a ToxicBUTTA), though it's not quite as smooth feeling as the other three.
The thread and weave are pretty fine, though not as dense as the other straps. As I mentioned the strap has some give to it, which does also mean a greater degree of stretch when I pull on both ends, more so than I get with a run-of-the-mill NATO. Stitching looks well done, and no scratchiness here. I do have some concerns about the holes though, since they do not seem as well sealed as I would like, and the one hole I've been wearing the strap at has started to stretch out and slightly fray. Will be keeping an eye on that as I continue to wear it.
Hardware on the strap is the standard hardware you'll find on other straps, engraved with "CSW" on it.
This strap has the finest thread and weave out of all the samples here, and feels smooth and soft. Stated to be 1.2mm thick, with no mention of type of material, my measurement puts it at 1.1mm. However, I will point out that every standard "1.2mm" NATO strap I own measures at 1.1mm thick when I take my calipers to them, with the exception of the Cincy SB strap that comes up thicker, so this is pretty much par for the course. Very dense weave, I can see almost no stretch at all if I pull on both ends. By far the nicest fabric out all the straps I've tried out.
Holes and ends are well cut and sealed. Stitching is one area which is a bit sloppier than the others, with regards to stitch spacing and straightness. I don't think it's anything that will affect the durability, but it is something that might bother you if you're looking at the fine details.
Hardware is beefier than what you'll find on a run-of-the-mill strap, but not as substantial as the AlphaShark or ToxicNATOs hardware. The keeper adjacent to the buckle is sliding, rather than fixed into place, which is a nice feature for those who like to tuck the extra end of the strap on the outside, since you can position it to catch the end wherever it ends up. There is no engraving on the buckle; there is a small tag hidden on the inside with the PhenomeNato logo on one side, and "Made in EU" on the other.
WatchGecko prototype seatbelt strap
Stated to be "1.2mm durable woven nylon", this one has a coarser weave and thread than the Cincy or PhenomeNato, but still feels nice and smooth. It's also got the alternating lanes with a change in the weave pattern. My measurement put it at 1.1mm as well, like every other "1.2mm" NATO strap I've got. Not much stretch in this strap, about the same as I get from a run-of-the-mill NATO.
Holes are very well sealed, as you can see in the picture, but slightly off-center. Stitching is probably the finest on this strap out of the four straps I'm comparing here.
Hardware on this strap is the standard stuff, engraved with "Zuludiver" on the buckle. There's also a hidden tag on the inside labelled with "Original Zuludiver" on both sides.
I found it somewhat amusing that of the three straps advertised as "seatbelt" style material, only the WatchGecko had a weave that looked similar to the seatbelt in my car, while the Cincy and PhenomeNato straps actually had finer weaves than my car's seatbelt. The AlphaShark is in a class of its own though, having a rather different design than the other three here. Admittedly, it's not really advertised as a "seatbelt" style strap, but I decided to include it here since it seems to often come up in comparison.
BluShark AlphaShark: Big and tough, a bit more scratchy, might be a bit too big for some watches or some people.
Cincy Strap Works "SB": Comfortable and flexible; some concerns about potential stretching and fraying due to the flexibility of the fabric.
PhenomeNato: Overall the nicest of the bunch, soft but dense fabric, nice hardware; minus a point for crooked stitching.
WatchGecko prototype seatbelt: Soft and comfortable, well sealed holes. Probably the plainest looking one compared to the fine weaves of the other two, but doesn't feel any less nice despite that.
As for long-term durability, will see as time progresses!
Addendum: Added photos and comparison with the ToxicBUTTA here: https://forums.watchuseek.com/f222/se...l#post36101442
Addendum 2: Added wet strap length increase comparison here: https://forums.watchuseek.com/f222/se...l#post36363938