Barton Watch Bands is a watch strap company I’ve had my eye on for a while.
They offer a wide variety of relatively affordable watch straps. But how good are they really?
They’ve sent me out a handful of straps to review, so we can take a closer in-depth look.
I wanted a couple more straps to have a wider array of their collection to compare, so I purchased two of the straps myself, but the rest were supplied by Barton.
Let’s get into it!
Quick Release Springbars
One thing I wanted to point out off the bat is a commonality between all of their straps.
All of the two piece straps have quick release spring bars.
Quick release spring bars have the spring bars permanently embedded in the strap, that can be inserted or removed without using a tool.
They have a notch cut out inside of the strap to allow a lever to pass through, which you can remove and install with just a finger.
This allows you to change a strap in all of about… 17.35 seconds. 11.23 seconds once you get good.
The extreme convenience is really hard to pass up, and be warned… After using some quick release straps, it’s hard to go back to watch straps with traditional spring bar systems.
Elite Silicone Strap
Due to their waterproof nature and sweat-wicking properties, rubber and silicone straps are a great choice for warm weather. You don’t need to worry about getting them damaged while swimming, and in theory, they should help keep you cool.
When I think of a silicone rubber strap, I definitely don’t think of something of quality. Silicone is an artificial rubber and typically tend to be inferior to their natural rubber, or vulcanized rubber, watch strap counterparts.
I’ve tried cheap silicone straps from the ‘Bay before and they were extremely uncomfortable and sweaty – the exact opposite of what you want from a summer strap.
But after hearing good things from many other watch YouTubers about the Barton Elite Silicone straps, I was curious and wanted to give them a go. That’s when I bought (with my own money, yes) my first Barton strap – a Barton Elite Silicone.
- Strap is curved by the lugs to wear more comfortably around your wrist.
- Inside of the strap is buttery smooth and has a small ‘duct’ to lift the strap barely off your wrist and promote air circulation.
- Quick release spring bars make for swapping out the strap a breeze.
- Thick silicone keepers, one lock into place for extra security.
- Super light and comfortable.
- Thick, substantial hardware. The buckle is well finished.
- Variety of colors.
- Attracts lint
- Thin for a rubber strap (Adds comfort, but lacks ‘heft’ and presumably less durable than thicker straps)
- Not real, natural rubber.
The strap leans a nice mix of casual and sporty. It’s a relatively simple looking strap but has a slight texture on the outside which adds to the visual interest, I like the look of it a lot.
They also have an even simpler silicone strap that lacks the texture, but I find those to be a little too plain for my taste.
The elite silicone is also bi-color. They have one color on top, and a different, accent color underneath, which adds a nice pop of color.
Fit and Comfort
The first thing I noticed when taking the silicone strap out of the box, is it was a lot lighter than I expected. Typically, when I think of a rubber strap, I think of a thick and hefty strap like those traditionally seen on divers.
You absolutely can wear this on a dive watch if you wanted to, though I think this is more appropriate for everyday/casual wear.
It’s extremely light and comfortable. The underside of the strap has a ‘duct’ embossed into the middle, which lifts the strap off your wrist, promoting air circulation and making the strap wear even cooler, even on the warmest days. It also helps to avoid moisture from getting trapped.
The elite silicone straps are surprisingly comfortable. They’re EXTREMELY soft to the touch and have absolutely no break in period like some other rubber straps tend to. I think that’s part of why these straps are so popular. Other straps can take weeks of wear before they’re comfortably sitting on your wrist, while this strap came that way out of the box.
The strap actually comes in two lengths, which is a pretty nice touch. It comes in one long and one shorter variation, you can pick whichever better suits your wrist. I’m wearing the shorter version and on my 7″ wrist I still have a few adjustment holes in either direction.
Because they include two different sizes, these straps are definitely appropriate for any size wrists.
Hardware and Keepers
The buckle is extremely substantial and well done. I like how thick it is and the brushed finishing is pretty good also. The buckle also has a drilled hole for easy swap outs, if you so choose, to change to one of their other buckle options, like a polished, black or rose gold finish.
The keepers on this strap are made from the same silicone as the strap itself but are made thick and substantial as well.
The strap itself has a notch cut into the tail end, which allows one of the keepers to ‘lock’ into it. This means the strap is NEVER loosely hanging out and wobbling about.
Aside from the quick release springbars, this is by far my favorite feature about the strap, and I wish every single rubber strap would have this feature.
There are very few downsides about this strap for the price, though because it’s a synthetic rubber, it can be a bit of a lint and dust magnet, at times. It’s not noticably bad if you keep your watch in a watch box, as most do, but after leaving a watch with this strap on my desk for more than a few days, it really started to collect lint.
Aside from that, it’s a little on the thinner side, which is great, due to the added comfort of having a thin, light strap, but may leave some to be desired if you’re looking for a more sturdy rubber strap for dive watches.
Further, you can find natural rubber straps in the ~$30 range, like Bonetto Cinturini and Borealis, though neither offer as extensive of a color palette, nor as vibrant of color options… And no quick release, either. 😉
I’ve never owned a canvas strap before so I went into this with very little expectations. Due to my lack of experience with this type of strap, my frame of reference is limited.
I chose the smoke grey canvas strap, mainly to pair with my Steinhart Ocean 39 to dress it down a bit. The contrast between the canvas strap and the glistening ceramic bezel really makes the watch pop.
The straps are a stitched canvas, like that of the material seen on Converse All-Stars.
- No break in period.
- Light and comfortable, even in warm weather
- Extra reinforced stitching.
- Quick release spring bar.
- Same hefty and well-finished buckle as silicone strap.
- Very fair price. Can’t think of any comparably priced options.
- Variety of colors that is rare for canvas style strap. Usually they only come in mostly earth tones.
- Waterproof and machine washable
- Strap doesn’t taper. Could be a pro/con depending on taste.
Comfort and Durability
I was very pleasantly surprised at how light and comfortable this strap was immediately out of the box. It feels very ‘rugged and tough’ to the touch, thanks to the durable canvas material. It’s extremely comfortable and cool, even on a warm summer day.
It’s stitched well around the entire edge of the strap and double up by the lugs – extra strength.
The adjustment holes are also stitched and HEAVILY reinforced, great attention to detail.
There’s no taper, so if you get a 20mm watch strap, it remains 20mm throughout. A taper might’ve possibly made this strap more comfortable to wear, though the lack of taper adds to the military-esque, ruggeda and tough aesthetic.
Though this wouldn’t be my first strap choice if I was going swimming, it’s certainly capable of it. Barton recommends throwing your canvas strap in the washing machine about once a month, depending on how often you wear it.
The one downside, for me, about this strap is the lack of a taper. It’s just one size throughout, though some may prefer this style.
Other than that, I don’t really have anything negative to stay, especially for the price, I think it’s a very fair offering.
The Wrap Up
Due to the waterproof nature, durability and comfort, this makes an excellent daily wear when paired with casual outfits, though not the most refined choice for say, an office setting. Wearing this with a business casual outfit would definitely be a bit of a stretch.
Like Converse, these straps can be seen as a great and reliable option to throw on when you want something comfortable, doesn’t require too much care and you know it’s always going to look decent.
The alligator grain strap is one of the offerings I was most curious about. At $28, it’s one of Barton’s most expensive offerings.
The bulk of the strap is made from a top grain leather and embossed with alligator texture. This is a faux alligator, as genuine alligator skin at this price would be completely unfathomable. They’re usually impossible to find for less than $100, and that’s being on the conservative side.
It has a very subtle gloss but has a mostly matte finish when compared to most other, slightly dressier, alligator strap offerings.
It’s a good combination of sporty/dress, in that it would work really well to dress up a sports watch, just a bit. It’s not waterproof, so always keep that in mind, when making your strap choice, and don’t wear this if you plan on going swimming.
- Padded strap helps add comfort (once strap is broken in).
- Matte finish lets you wear this on less dressy watches (most alligator straps are glossy and doesn’t look as good on sports watches).
- Same thick buckle as previous straps.
- Quick release spring bars ftw.
- Slightly pricey for embossed alligator, imo.
- Requires break in before it wears comfortably.
Break In Period
Unlike the other Barton straps I’ve tried, the Alligator Grain wasn’t as comfortable right out of the box.
Due to the padded nature of these straps, these straps require a little bit of a break in period. Barton earnestly advertises such on their website.
They recommend flexing the strap over and over by the spring bar, though my concern is the wear and tear that might put on the strap.
I simply put the watch on one of the watch pillows in my watch box and tightened it to the exact hole I wear it on. This helps to mold the strap to the pillow over time, without overtightening it and potentially damaging it.
This works better with cheap watch box pillows, as they tend to be a little stiffer and firmer, while more expensive watch boxes often have watch pillows that are meant to not alter your strap in any way.
If it’s still too uncomfortable after a couple of days, to a weak, feel free to give it a few bends here and there by the lugs, as that’s the primary point where the strap contours around your wrist.
Keep in mind, they will mold to your wrist over time regardless, so you don’t want to overdo it. Just enough to where it’s comfortable for you to wear.
Comfort Once Broken In
Once broken in, this strap was surprisingly comfortable. As mentioned, it’s padded so that adds to the comfort wearing it on your wrist.
Top Grain Leather Strap
The last and final strap I received is a simple leather strap.
The one I chose looks espresso in color, with hints of charcoal gray and rich olive green hues as well. I really dig the color. It has a ‘linen’ colored, off-white contrast stitching that runs all the way up most of the length of the strap, and stops by the lugs.
I chose this strap, in 22mm, specifically for my Orient Neo70s chronograph. The rich espresso helps to contrast with the creamy white dial, which in turn is complimented by the off-white stitching. Overall, I think this is a killer combo that helps to add a touch of rugged elegance to a relatively refined looking watch.
- No break in. Strap was soft and supple right out of the box.
- REALLY smooth leather finish.
- Wide range of color options. Colorful options for fun/sporty watches and rich earth tones for “classy” watches, like my Orient Neo70’s.
- Quick release spring bars.
- Fair price.
- No taper can make the strap look too chunky on some watches and may limit your watch pairing options.
I love the look of these straps. Depending on which color you get (and there’s a huge range of colors) they can add a different feel to your watch.
The brighter, more vibrant colors such as the ‘Crimson Red’ or the ‘Navy Blue’ can look either sporty or playful. The richer brown and other earth tones tend to lean a little more ‘classy’ while still maintaining a very rugged feel.
The contrast stitching can help make the strap look a little more tapered than it actually is, helpful if you have a watch that you deem as just a tad too large for your taste by drawing your eye ever so slightly between the stitching, rather than at the strap as a whole.
The strap itself doesn’t taper at all and that’s my only gripe with it. It’s really the only thing making it a REALLY ‘classy’ strap, and I think limiting the types of watch that would look best with it.
I.E. it wouldn’t be as good to pair with a dress watch, in my opinion.
Smooth Leather Finish
The leather strap is VERY smoothed out, meaning this isn’t the strap to go for if you prefer a distressed look, or a strap to display your watch’s many battle scars.
It feels buttery and soft to the touch and just folds around your wrist gently.
The interior leather that touches your wrist seems slightly more natural than the outer layer of the shell, but I actually prefer the slightly nappier (but still smooth) feel of it.
Thanks to the smooth leather finish, It’s a strap that always looks simple and clean
The strap itself is a decent leather strap. It was extremely soft and supple right out of the box. Not quite as supple as the canvas or rubber straps, but leather straps rarely ever are.
For a leather strap, it’s very comfortable. Barton advertises that there’s no break in period, and I have to agree. Plus, as I’ve worn it, it’s continued to mold to my wrist over time.
The hardware isn’t as thick or substantial as the silicone and rubber straps, but those are more ‘sportier’ strap options, while the leather strap is more appropriate for the office, so the extra bulk and size of the hardware is not so much an issue.
Ballistic & Jetson NATO Straps
Barton makes two different NATOs, a lesser priced and basic ‘Ballistic’ NATO, and a more premium ‘Jetson’ NATO.
What’s most interesting about both of these NATO straps is that they have a unique keeper to tuck the extra fabric away.
The keeper they use is a thick keeper made from the same nylon material as the rest of the NATO.
It, of course, uses the same design and color scheme as your NATO, and is thick enough to tuck the extra length of your strap inside and hide it completely.
This is different from most NATO, as often they extra fabric would be held down with the help of a thin, metal keeper, that doesn’t at all hide the extra fabric.
This gives the Barton NATO straps a bit of a cleaner appearance.
They come in two lengths, 10″ (for 18, 20 and 22mm widths) and 11″ (for 20, 22 and 24mm widths) so you should be able to find the proper fit for you, regardless of wrist size.
My wrist is an average 7″ and the standard strap fits me perfectly with a bunch of adjustment holes in either direction, and not too much excess of the strap to fold over. A perfect fit.
Let’s take a look at each of their NATO offerings individually.
Ballistic Nylon NATO
The ballistic NATO is barton’s basic NATO offering. They offer a wider array of colors than their Jetson NATO and they’re also cheaper, almost half the price.
The weave and material, while both made of nylon, feel completely different to the touch.
The ballistic nato feals more of your typical, basic nylon based NATO. It has a primarily horizontal weave and is very comfortable on the wrist.
Of course, my favorite thing about it is the keeper where you can tuck any excess fabric neatly and it looks great.
- Wider variety of color options
- Multiple length options (Jetson nato only has one size)
- Less substantial hardware.
- No sheen.
- Less ‘premium’ feeling.
Jetson (Premium) NATO
The Jetson NATO is a more premium offering, featuring a soft to the touch seatbelt weave. It has a bit more of a shine to it, making it feel and look much more like a luxury strap than the ballistic.
- Unique ‘keeper’ hides all the extra, folded over fabric.
- Good quality to price ratio.
- Has a slight ‘sheen’, giving a more luxurious vibe.
- Fair price
- Lack of color/style options
The Bottom Line
If you prefer more ‘hardware’ on your watch, and more bling, a traditional NATO may be more suited for you.
But if you’ve always liked the idea of a NATO, but not all the excess fabric hanging off your wrist, these NATO offerings give you a much cleaner appearance and are definitely worth giving it a check.
The Final Verdict
Barton watch Bands offers a wide array of different style and color options for your watch straps. Along with the quick release spring bars, it’s a very easy way to breathe new life into the collection of watches you already own.
My personal favorites are the Jetson NATO, which I think is very fairly priced considering the quality of the seatbelt weave, and the leather strap surprised me with how soft and supple it is.