We all love to change straps on our watches, especially when it comes to sports or dive watches. Whether you own a Tudor Black Bay, an Oris Divers Sixty Five, a Seiko Prospex, or all sorts of watches that are cool and slightly rugged, switching straps is just part of the fun. Of course, it allows you to match it with your “environment” (business, casual, seaside…) or even to your outfit. Recently, we discovered (thanks Ilias…) some very nice straps, which will be perfect for your dive watches and for summer. They are perfect replicas of vintage Marine Nationale Strap, made by a sweet lady called Erika (@ErikasOriginals) and if you are a vintage collector, you certainly what we are talking about.
A bit of history about the Marine Nationale Strap
Why do we name these straps “Marine Nationale Strap”. In fact, we have to look back at military purposes and at Tudor Watches. The relation between French Navy “Marine Nationale” and Tudor can be traced down to the late 1950s. Since the earliest days of the Submariner “by Tudor”, Marine Nationale (MN) was an important client and a regular test-field. At the very beginning, MN was buying traditional referenced from Tudor’s catalogue, including the ref. 7922 (straight case, big crown, gilt dial with Mercedes hands) and later the ref. 7928 (with square crown guards but still with Mercedes hands and gilt dials). However, these were normal watches, strictly identical to commercialized ones.
Later on, the ref. 7928 was replaced by the ref. 7016, introducing the “SnowFlake hands”. This is where the story became more interesting, as these watches were engraved on the back with “MN 19xx” for the indication of the military purposes and the year of production. And be aware that the Snowflake hands were a specific request of the French navy, for an improved legibility. Finally came the blue snowflake dial Tudor Marine Nationale, with blue dial and bezel – ref. 9401 and 94010. Well, why do we explain all of that…? Simply because that’s where the strap becomes famous.
In fact, when delivering the French Navy, Tudor was sending only “heads” and not entire watches, so without the strap. Frogmen and members of the Marine Nationale usually found their own way to create straps, including the one we can see on the photo below, which clearly is part of the iconic look of the Tudor Marine Nationale. The strap was made from elastic parachute braid and parachute hardware… what we can call a basic way to do a strap, but in the end, it created the icon.
The very cool Marine Nationale Strap from @ErikasOriginals
Having the chance to find some military surplus stock, a sweet lady named Erika had the idea to reintroduce these straps – quite aware of the success of strap changing and of the recently introduced Tudor Black Bay, mimicking the old Submariner watches from the brand, with snowflake hands. And the good thing is that Erika’s Marine Nationale Straps are all identical to those from the French Navy, made in the same kind of elastic parachute braid, and with the same kind of metallic hardware. Clearly, that’s super-cool.
Une photo publiée par Frank Geelen (@fgeelen) le
The Marine National strap looks simply good on every kind of dive watches. Look for instance at our Editor-in-Chief Frank, who installed it on his own Oris Sixty Five… A vintage inspired diver with a vintage reissued strap. Same can be said about a Black Bay midnight Blue, which strapped on the MNStrap properly pays tribute to the look of the old MN watches.
What to say about the strap itself. Well, of course considering the material it is made of, don’t expect the quality of a 700 Euros leather strap from Patek – and clearly, it’s not the goal here. However, the straps are from military elastics, and were strong enough for a parachute and its parachutist, so it should be good for your watch, to say the least. The finishing is qualitative, as Erika is doing the stitching by hand – and she produces on request only, depending on your wrist circumference. So they fit perfectly too.
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Une photo publiée par Ilias G (@elio5) le
The second good thing to know is that they can be used, of course, for diving purposes – and we can testify, as our own Ilias is himself an avid diver, and he uses his watches and this strap in real conditions. The Marine Nationale Straps exist in 4 different versions: invisible stitching, yellow stitching, red stitching and finally a version with military inscriptions (and these are all coming directly from the material used, not from a later stamping…). The Marine Nationale strap by @ErikasOriginals is available in 21mm and 22mm. And they will look superb on any kind of dive or tool watch. Orders can be done by Erika’s website – see here – and you can look at all the possible combinations on her Instagram account @erikasoriginals. Price is 50 Euros, including worldwide shipping.