As much as I love heritage brands from overseas, I also like to support local whenever I can. With Local Spotlight, I hope to share some of the Australian brands, craftsmen and tinkerers I know and love.
I love my mechanical watches but watches are an expensive hobby. I am not a millionaire and can’t afford to buy a new watch every month (or even every year for that matter!). When I want a new look with my watch, I swap out the strap. It’s actually very easy – all you need is a springbar removal tool which you can pick up from most watchstrap makers, watchmakers, or ebay for not very much.
One of the local brands I recommend to all my friends is Bas & Lokes. I originally read about this two-lady operation based in Sydney on Gear Patrol. Realising this world-renowned company was in my very own backyard meant that I had to give them a try. I had become somewhat of a strap-fiend by then, and I really wanted to add a leather nato/one-piece strap to my collection. The problem I had was that most one-piece straps were really thick and don’t conform to the shape of the springbars very well, making the strap bulge out in an unsightly manner. The straps from Bas & Lokes looked to be much thinner and softer. The pricing for their nato straps were not the cheapest in the category, especially since their site charges in US dollars, but the quality and thinness kept luring me back to the site.
I finally pulled the trigger on their “Jonas” model (which I don’t think is available anymore) which is made of a soft pullup leather similar to Horween chromexcel (or it might be chromexcel for all I know, the site does not specify the tannery) in a mid-tan colour. As the name suggests, the surface of leather pulls up when friction is applied to it, making it look like the leather is scratched but it smooths again after a while. Over time, the leather develops a lovely patina. You can see in the first picture (the Jonas is on the speedmaster) how the leather has aged and darkened in certain areas from my skin oils and exposure to water. The stitching was even and durable looking and the brushed stainless steel buckle (you can also order in polished) was sturdy and precisely machined. The leather was quite thin and molded to my wrist nicely after a couple of days of wear.
I bought the 20mm width to fit the lugs on my speedy but the straps can be ordered in 16-24mm widths. Natos are a one-size-fits all kind of strap and you just tuck the extra end bit into the keep. My Jonas strap measures about 30cm long with the first hole (10 of them in total) at 17cm from the buckle and the last about 25cm. I have a fairly small wrist at 16.5cm (6 1/2 inch) and I use the fifth hole. These days I own 3 Bas & Lokes nato straps (two of them gifts from my lovely wife) and you can see the other two in the pictures above. I don’t know the exact models but one is a lighter tan number with very soft leather which looks like it might be “Theo” and the other is a rugged-looking one which looks like the “Asa” (and those of you who are OCD-inclined, look away because that is a 20mm strap on a 22mm lugged Seiko “turtle” reissue SRP777).
I wear one of these 3 straps on my speedy most days of the week. And the best thing about nato straps is that even when you are in a rush in the morning and you’re running late for work, it only takes a second to swap out your strap!
Please note: I’m not affiliated with Bas & Lokes in any way and this is just my personal experience of their products. I paid for the products with my own hard-earned cash and have not been paid to write this post.