Pad & Quill NATO Belt Review: High-quality leather and a unique design

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Pad & Quill pays homage to the first new Apple Watch strap in years for the British NATO squad in the 1970s. This all-leather bracelet features a unique design unlike any other we’ve tested.

We’ve been fans of Apple Watch bands from Pad & Quill for years, as the company uses quality materials like full-grain leather and nautical embroidery.

We last reviewed the Apple Watch band from Pad & Quill in 2020, which was also unusual in its design. The new NATO squad has similar elements but is not heavy in appearance.

Unique shot of NATO

NATO straps are common in the Apple Watch market, although they are often a two-piece nylon design. This is a one-piece leather version.

The stitches are bold on the strap, yet very durable.

Specifically, Pad & Quill pays homage to the 1970s British Under Case band released to withstand the brutality of combat. It was a single-strap tape, held in place with stainless steel hardware.

Lower straps are usually not possible with the Apple Watch due to the myriad of sensors on the side that is worn on the wrist. The strap at the bottom of the case will prevent the watch’s sensors from monitoring your vitals.

To avoid this problem, Pad & Quill cut a circle from the middle of the band. This allows the belt to remain in one piece while allowing the sensor array to function. Unfortunately, the O2 sensor is still unable to work with this range.

The belt has a hole so the sensors can continue to function normally.

The belt has a hole so the sensors can continue to function normally.

Pad & Quill is different from its inspiration, it uses matte black nickel hardware for weight and durability. It has a round-oval shape for the matching buckle and lugs, a pattern found on most other NATO ranges.

One of the lugs is locked into place, secured with leather. The second lug floats, allowing the strap to slide behind it.

As far as we can tell, the reason for this is how you recharge your Apple Watch. The hole in the middle is not big enough for our charger so instead we have to unscrew the strap on the bottom of the watch so the charging disc fits.

This is rather annoying as not only can you drop your watch on the charger but you must first add the slack to the strap. It’s a two-handed process, not just one.

There are many other small details of this band that we appreciate. The band comes in two dark brown colors—whiskey and chestnut—but both have a contrasting light stitch running down the sides.

End Pad &  Coil NATO squad

The end of NATO’s Pad & Quill

This thread is strong and should not fray easily. Pad & Quill says it’s “nautical quality” due to its common use on ships and paracord—plus, it’s UV-resistant.

The underside has a heavy-duty black leather backing to prevent stretching and improve durability. There is a metal rivet at the end where it folds, but while the metal is dark, it will corrode over time just like leather.

Also hidden on the underside of the belt is a hand-stitched bright orange thread to hold the loop in place. Each craftsman will sign the band here as well, emphasizing the handmade nature of the band.

Should You Buy a Pad & Quill NATO Belt?

We’ve been wearing the new NATO-style bracelet from Pad & Quill for the past few weeks, and it’s one of the most comfortable leather straps we’ve tried. The leather feels great and matches well on our wrist.

It has a great look that differentiates itself from the market which is starting to falter. After years of being in the market, a few newly designed bands have been released.

The Quill NATO Band delivers a sleek look on the wrist.

The Pad & Quill NATO Band provides a stylish look on the wrist.

The new Pad & Quill NATO-style strap only fits the larger Apple Watch – 42mm, 44mm and 45mm – and fits wrist sizes from 125mm to 215mm.

This is a solid option for those who want something that emphasizes craftsmanship and history while working with a modern Apple Watch. The charging aspect can be annoying, but the trade-off may be worth it.

  • Sturdy full-grain leather construction
  • 2 years warranty
  • Unique and vintage design
  • Ultra-comfortable
  • Only available for the larger Apple Watch
  • There is not much difference in brown tones and there are no black options
  • Shipping can be a heavy burden
  • Does not support O2 blood sensor

Rating: 3 out of 5

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