REVIEW – BluShark is a relatively young company that specializes premium pass-through (i.e. NATO-style) watch straps, but also makes traditional two-piece straps. I’ve been wearing pass-through straps on my watches for many years (for a variety of reasons discussed later) and have tried straps from most of the well-known brands. The opportunity to review BluShark straps came at an opportune time as I was about to replace one of my straps that had become a bit shabby looking and had been looking to dress up my every-day watch for the past 6 months or so.
What is it?
BluShark’s pass-through straps are high quality, reasonably-priced straps for wristwatches.
What are pass-through straps?
The pass-through strap is a single-piece of strap with runs over the 12-o’clock springbar (or fixed rod) between the upper lugs on the end of the watch case, under the watch, and then back up and over the 6-o’clock springbar / rod. The single-piece strap offers multiple advantages over traditional two-piece straps when wearing a wristwatch, especially when wearing a mission-critical watch in an “extreme” environment (even something as simple as day-hiking or camping, to scuba diving, motorcycle racing, or mountain climbing) or wearing a wristwatch with great intrinsic or sentimental value. These advantages include
- protecting the back of the watch
- allowing for a snugger fit with less risk of damaging either the strap or the springbars
- security: failure of a single springbar will not cause the watch to fall off, just merely flop around. This allows the wearer to relocate the watch to a pocket rather than having to try and locate where the watch fell or having to replace the watch when he/she returns from the current expedition.
There are several good references to wearing a NATO strap online. One of the more comprehensive ones is at Watchient, although until looking up this reference, I had never seen a “single loop” described, but have since found several references to this “thinner’ way of wearing a NATO strap. Personally, I find it to be very awkward to put on and frankly uncomfortable to wear with thicker straps.
What’s in the box?
I was sent two BluStrap pass-through straps:
- 22 mm Bond – Orange Watch Strap
- 24 mm 3-ring Orange Watch Strap
Each strap arrived in a protective plastic sleeve. Also included in the box was a small microfiber watch cleaning cloth.
Design and features
The 3-ring strap is constructed of a soft, pliable nylon weave with a decorative and functional stitch line running down the center of the strap. The round-profile rings are brushed stainless steel. It is a standard length strap that measures 11 inches long.
The Bond strap is built around a ballistic nylon strap with polished stainless steel hardware with a rectangular profile for a more refined look. The design of this strap includes a separate backer strap that lays flat against the skin. This strap also 11 inches long.
The photographs below show how the BluStrap 3-Ring compares in dimension and construction to a similar 3-ring Martac strap.
As you can see the nylon material used in the Martac strap is slightly thicker, but the metal rings on the BluShark are slightly thicker.
The stitching on the BluShark is slightly neater than that on the Martac strap. The edges of the hole for the central bar of the buckle appear neater on the BluShark strap as well.
A comparison of the Bond dual-layer strap to a much-larger Martac strap (designed to be worn over the top of diving suits (including some semi-rigid suits) shows that Bond strap is designed to be a more refined strap with thinner material ad more attention to the aesthetics of the stitching as compared to the heavy-duty Martac.
The Bond strap is definitely more of a gentleman’s watch strap, or at least matches style and performance as compared to the more utilitarian styling of the Martac strap.
I have been wearing the Bond strap on my vintage Glycine Airman SST (my daily wear watch) for a month now, and I am very happy with the fit of the strap and the way it complements my timepiece of choice. The only thing that I would change is an aesthetic choice–I would purchase a brushed metal finish strap rather than a polished one.
The black-gray-orange stripes on the Bond Orange band are an excellent complement to the colors of a vintage Glycine Airman SST “Pumpkin.”
The tail on the Bond sits comfortably inside the rings and does not catch on my sleeves.
I tried the 3-ring strap with my camping / working in the yard / swimming / snorkeling watch, a Suunto Core All-Black. I had no problems with the way the strap felt on my wrist and it worked well for the five-or-six days that I wore it. However, I found that the geometry of my arrangement of mounting bars requires a strap longer than 11 inches. The tail didn’t stick out far enough to stay tucked in and was just long enough to keep getting caught on the gauntlet buttons on my shirt sleeves, or worse on branches, twigs, and other plant appendages.
My current Martac strap is many millimeters longer than the BluShark.
Here is my Suunto Core in its historical configuration. Note that the strap is long enough to tuck back under.
These photos show the BluShark 3-Ring strap installed on my Suunto Core.
As you can see the tail of the strap stick out awkwardly. For this particular watch setup on my wrist, the BluShark is not the best option. Those readers with wrists smaller than a baseball bat may have better luck.
The Bond Orange strap has replaced the Martac orange-stripe strap that I’ve been wearing for 5 years. The Orange 3-ring will unfortunately not be replacing my old strap on the Suunto. I like the way the BluShark straps feel against my skin, but in the case of the Suunto, function will have to trump form. I’m going to put the 3-Ring in my collection of 10+ pass-through straps to await duty on a TBD future watch.
What I like
- High quality material and construction techniques
- Reasonable cost for the quality of the product
- Good variety in the type, style, color, and materials (see website)
What I’d change
- I would like to see the straps offered in a longer length for those of us with larger wrists.
BluShark straps are of superior quality. The attention to detail and style, coupled with their reasonable prices make them an affordable and simple way to dress up your office watch and keep your outdoor watch with you even in the event of a springbar failure.