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The Rise of the Bund Strap

Once a staple among Hollywood's elite, this special leather watch strap is again ready for the limelight.

panerai on bund strap
Henry Phillips

A version of this story first appeared in Gear Patrol Magazine. Subscribe today.


In the watch world, cool weather means it’s time for leather watch straps. They can be classic or rugged, but seldom both. Unless, of course, we're talking about the Bund strap — a standard two-piece leather strap but with an additional layer of leather sitting beneath the watch. The result is a band that looks like a full-leather cuff.

Though once a favorite of larger-than-life stars like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, the Bund came from pragmatic origins: it takes its colloquial name from its issue to military pilots of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland, or Federal Republic of Germany, in the mid-20th century. It was designed to protect the wrist from the watch’s metal case, which could become either too cold in freezing aircraft or scalding in the case of cockpit fires.With the cool factor that comes from military origins and the resurgence of ‘70s watch styles, there’s every reason for the Bund to make a comeback this season.

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The Strap
Henry Phillips
The Heaton Unlined Leather Bund Strap

Handsome, crafted of world-famous Horween leather and unlined for a comfortable wearing experience, the Heaton strap is possibly the best Bund currently on the market.

How To Wear One
hodinkee bund strap
Hodinkee

Wear a larger tool watch on a Bund, or use it to help a small watch wear more prominently.

Pilot's Watch
Stowa Flieger Classik 40 Baumuster B

Bund straps look appropriate on watches like Stowa’s Fliegers, which were also made for German pilots.

Diameter: 40mm

Movement: ETA 2824-2 automatic; ETA 2804-2 or Sellita SW215-1 hand-wound

Water Resistance: 50m

Dive Watch
Seiko Prospex SPB237 “Willard”

You don’t take a Bund in the water, but dive watches look great on them, especially those with ‘70s vibes like Seiko’s classic “Willard.”

Diameter: 42.7mm

Movement: Seiko cal. 6R35 automatic

Water Resistance: 200m

Racing Chronograph
Yema Speedgraf

Some of the most famous Bund wearers chose racing chronographs like the Yema Speedgraf, which fits the bill to a T.

Diameter: 39mm

Movement: Seiko cal. NE86 automatic

Water Resistance: 100m

The Best Leather Watch Straps
best leather watch straps gear patrol lead full
Chandler Bondurant and Hunter D. Kelley

If you're looking for a leather strap but a Bund is a bit much, check out these other options.

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