This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear rounding up the most notable releases of 2021. For more stories like this, click here.
Time-telling part is only half the fun of being a watch owner or collector. Accessories, from straps to storage, can add a whole other level of appreciation — and they’re a great way to scratch the itch when a new watch isn’t in the immediate budget. Here are some of the best and most notable watch accessories we found in 2021.
Barton Leather Watch Roll Travel
Presented by Barton Watch Bands
No matter what time of year it is, it always pays to have options — especially when you’re traveling or on the move. Case in point, we love to travel with more than one watch, but that presents a difficult question: What’s the best way to bring our favorite watches with us — without worrying about damaging them in process? Barton’s Leather Watch Roll Travel Case manages to tick all the boxes when it comes to taking your timepieces on the go. Crafted with an eco-friendly recycled leather and closed by four stainless steel snap closures, the exterior is stitched together to be sturdy and hold up under pressure. The interior features a plush microsuede and three removable pillows; while you might be sprinting to your next layover flight or tossing your bag into a storage bin, your watches will still be safe and sound (and traveling in style). With all the details taken care of, it’s clear Barton’s take on a watch roll is designed to hit the road. That said, Barton’s Leather Watch Roll Travel Case looks so good — we’re considering using it as an at-home display case, no suitcase required.
With a dial and bezel fitted with luminous pigment for low-light use and resistant to dust and water, this compass is built last — and to easily attach to any size or type of watch strap for all your expedition and exploration needs. It’s also versatile and can clip onto your pocket or bag when you don’t need it on your wrist.
NATO straps are great, but which one to get from the multitudes out there to choose from? Taking quality, price, design and execution into consideration, we’ve found that the Supreme collection of premium NATOs from Crown & Buckle stands out. Using tough nylon, they feature a tight weave and matte thread that eliminates the shine often associated with “seatbelt NATOs.” The result is a more appropriate look to match that tough tool watch.
Worn & Wound’s ADPT series of military-inspired, single-pass straps stands for “All Day, Purpose, and Terrain.” They have the rugged and functional look that makes NATO and similar straps popular, but these are made in the United States and offer a luxury experience for your luxury watch.
Canvas isn’t the most common material for watch straps, but the rugged appeal it offers in other products also works well on your wrist. It combines a rugged feel with a texture that ages nicely — but also offers a high degree of comfort. B&R Bands’ new straps have a washed and faded finish and contrasting leather keepers/lining that’ll pair perfectly with your tool watches and casual wear.
Apple makes premium products, and that includes accessories like its Watch bands. Using stretchy “recycled polyester yarn filaments” sized to the wearer’s wrist instead of the traditional clasp, the Braided Solo Loop is a great example of how the forward-thinking brand can innovate even on simple concepts.
Made to hold a single watch, Crown & Buckle’s pouches offer a soft leather exterior with suede lining — just the right way to carry that extra watch around when you travel. Made to hold up to a 46mm watch, its brass rivet is covered with a leather patch on the inside to avoid scratches.
Need a retro watch bracelet to match that retro (or actual vintage) watch? Historic company Forstner has been resurrected and is bringing back some of the most famous and quirky vintage bracelet styles of the mid-20th century with a real attention to getting a genuine feel. The Klip is based on the old “bonklip” style and is one of our favorites to pair with tool watches of all kinds.
The Hodinkee Shop offers some of the best strap options of all kinds, but we’d like to highlight the Heaton Bund. This type of strap originated with military pilot use but later became a popular ’70s style, notably among some Hollywood icons. With all the retro watch styles around today, the bund is looking fresh again.
The second generation of Discommon’s watch roll offers a refined calf hide exterior and a modern feel with pops of orange. It’s rife with details and a highly satisfying way to carry or store a few of your precious watches at a time.
NATO-style straps are popular, in part, because they’re affordable. When you already have a drawer full of them, however, you might start to look for something a bit more special. The Quantum strap is just that: a collaboration between two American brands, it combines the technical fabric expertise of Triple Aught Design with titanium hardware hand-milled by knife-maker Todd Rexford. This isn’t your average NATO strap, and it’s not for your average watch, either.
One of our favorite retailers of vintage watches also offers some great watch accessories. In collaborating with Wolf, known for its watch winders and boxes, Analog/Shift has produced this killer walnut-and-cork watch box. Meant to occupy minimal space, the box holds and displays five watches and offers a truly unique look.
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