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The band wagon

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.

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