The band wagon

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For all their dizzying variety, wristwatches can be categorized with one simple question: do they come on a bracelet or a strap? While bracelet models can vary in appearance, based on the design of the links and the color of the metal, strap styles have traditionally come in just two flavors: black leather or brown.

Until now, that is. Judging by the introductions at Baselworld, the Swiss seem to have a serious case of strap-mania. Not only have watchmakers expanded the selection of exotic leather bands to include calf, crocodile and cordovan options—available in a rainbow of hues—they’ve also gone wild for interchangeable fabric straps.

 
Hamilton Pan Europ, $1,195. Tourneau, 320 San Lorenzo Avenue, Coral Gables; 305-448-6878; tourneau.com.
Hamilton Pan Europ, $1,195. Tourneau, 320 San Lorenzo Avenue, Coral Gables; 305-448-6878; tourneau.com.

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For proof, see the latest collections from Hamilton, Omega and Tudor, to name just three brands that have embraced the fashion-forward and inexpensive nylon styles known as NATOs—first used in 1973, when the sturdy straps were issued to British soldiers deployed on a NATO mission. “They became kind of popular in a civilian way in the last decade,” said New York-based Stephen J. Pulvirent, associate editor of the watch blog Hodinkee. “Now, I’ll see 20 people wearing NATO straps on the subway.” —VG

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