What is a strap monster, and why do you need one? What is a strap monster, and why do you need one?

What is a strap monster, and why do you need one?

Zach Blass

The watch community has its own cultural rhetoric teeming with insider slang that never registers to the mainstream ear. It all stems from a greater engagement with watches, and, as you go down the rabbit hole and discover all of their intricacies, you begin to need specific terms for purposes of clarification. One common phrase collectors often utilise is “strap monster”. It is thrown around a lot, so we wanted to take a moment to break down what it means for those who aren’t familiar, and why it is beneficial to own a strap monster in your collection and suggest a few references that we believe truly fit the bill.

Picture: reddit/u/delugs-straps

What is a “strap monster”?

A strap monster is a chameleon of sorts. It is a watch that is ripe for seemingly limitless strap pairings that work well with the watch. Strap monsters, typically have more neutral toned dials – such as, black, white, grey or blue – and lug widths that cater to strap sizes most commonly produced (18mm, 20mm, 22mm). Often you will see a watch release that in its factory configuration will attract inquiry at points of sale. But, for those who love to customise and tailor a watch to their look through a strap swap, you will see a bit of an outcry from consumers if the novelty features an odd lug width such as 21mm – removing the ability to pair the watch with your collection of aftermarket straps. The same reaction will occur if the watch has a unique means of attaching the strap to the case.

Why is a “strap monster” beneficial for your collection?

Essentially, it makes your wrist wear more versatile, allowing you to diversify without having to amass a large collection of watches. Not everyone has the budget to fill an entire watch box with luxury timepieces, but having a strap monster allows you to own one watch that can take on multiple aesthetics. With each strap swap, you are able to freshen up the look of the watch – making it far less likely that you get bored with your timepiece. It is also great  for those  detail fetishists who want to better blend and match their daily wears with their wardrobes. And even if you don’t immediately see yourself removing the factory strap for something aftermarket, it can be nice to know that at the very least you can join in on the fun if you wanted to.

What are some examples of a strap monster?

We asked members of the Time+Tide to suggest their favourite strap monsters.

Fergus Nash’s pick: Seiko Turtle


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Although Seiko’s flagship strap monster may have once been the beloved SKX, its replacement with the rejuvenated lineup of Seiko 5 watches has allowed the ‘70s-inspired reissue Turtle to take its place. With its monochromatic black dial and white tombstone indices, the 200m professional-specification diver looks fantastic on all sorts of leather straps, NATOs, rubber straps, and even dressed up with aftermarket bracelets. Its 22mm lug width ensures that you have seemingly infinite options when strap shopping, and you’re certain to have a few others lying around your collection just waiting for your DIY strap fashion show.

Nick Kenyon’s pick: Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch


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The Omega Speedmaster Professional is one of the most versatile watches ever made. Want proof? It went to the moon. That’s right, it’s a pretty short list of watches that can boast about breaking the bonds of terra firma to touch down on extraterrestrial turf, but the Speedy has done it. However it’s versatility doesn’t end there as it’s also a veritable canvas for strap-swapping personal expression. There’s something about the asymmetrical steel case, black aluminium bezel and matte black dial that works on just about anything. Sure, the factory bracelet it arrives on is great (especially on the new references released in 2021), but if you want it on a leather strap, guess what? It works a treat. Considering slapping a NATO on it? Don’t worry, because that will look great too. In essence, if you’re looking to get bang for your buck in terms of visual versatility, you won’t go wrong with a Speedy.

My pick: Rolex Submariner


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Rolex bracelets are of such high quality, it is hard to imagine separating them from the case. But for some the look can be livened up a bit more, with added colour and texture introduced to the overall aesthetic. With a black dial and bezel the possible combinations are infinite, and it is impossible to conjure up a bad pairing. It really comes down to your taste and style, and a Submariner strap swap is a great way to further personalise what is a pretty ubiquitous watch. Personally, I would go for a rubber strap to maintain the utility of the diver and seeing this orange strap pictured above is making me wonder if I should try the same.

Thor Svaboe’s pick: Hanhart 417 ES


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As a self-confessed strapaholic and hunter of strap monsters, I get an itch as soon as I get a new watch, unless it’s on a perfect fitting bracelet. To tell the truth, I’ve even ordered an alternative non-OEM strap at the same time as expecting a brand new watch from an AD. Arriving last month, the pitch-perfect Fifties vintage Hanhart 417ES was staying on its Steve McQueen (check the story here) bund strap, but twig-like arms due to gym lockdown for months necessitated a temporary strap change, and like wow, did it turn out to be quite the strap monster. The clean, vintage monochrome bi-compax dial and short-lugged 42mm case makes it look great on anything. Here on my Instagram post it feels right at home on an old soft, chocolate brown leather nato, and yes, I already have another strap on the way. The 21” lug width makes it fit a 20” or an older stretched-out 22, and has become a firm favourite. The smooth hand winding Sellita SW510 movement completes the vintage vibe to perfection, and what better way to match it up to your outfit than, wait, a grey NATO? I’m changing it now.