THE PEARSON STRAP – THE NATO GRANDFATHER
The name NATO describing a watch strap derives from the late 1970s, and is a colloquial reference to the NATO Stock Number (NSN) for the issued military strap. It has evolved to mean any two part strap, not necessarily military issued. Much earlier two part “NATO” design straps existed before the slang term developed.
E.J. Pearson and Sons became the largest watch strap maker in England by the end of WW1. They registered design number 529337 with the British Board of Trade on 27 August 1908. The design is below, it is a two piece leather strap, with the shorter flap passing behind the watch, and the longer strap passing through the lugs of the watch.
A range of names, Simplex, Climax, Victor, and Premier were used for various versions of the Pearson two part “NATO” watch strap.
Image courtesy: David Boettcher of Vintage Watch Straps
The design as in the patent application drawing above, was a pocket watch size back flap (a) and a pull through strap (b) holding the watch in place.
Below is the SIMPLEX strap Reg No 529337.
A 1913 advertisement for a Monnin, Rebetez watch features a Pearson strap with the watch having swinging lugs, and the crown at 3 o’clock.
IMAGE COURTESY MWR FORUM USER: BOBBEE
An example in the British Museum is strapped to a wire lugged Ingersoll Midget, which still has the crown at 12 o’clock.
COURTESY BM COLLECTION, ITEM NUMBER: 1983,1012.153.
The back of a CLIMAX strap is shown below. It is similar to the Simplex, but is made from cut leather, without stitching. It is shown on an original black dial Ingersoll Midget with shrapnel guard.
This strap has “Reg No” stamped in the middle of the back of the flared section, with “CLIMAX” in a curve above and the number 529337 in a curve below, together with MADE IN ENGLAND.
Below is a Climax strap being fitted with an Army Wrist Watch Protector, in a 1916 advertisement. The back flared section held part of the protector in place.
On the same day as for the Simplex flared design registration, E.J. Pearson and Sons also registered the earlier design number 529336 for a Victor strap, which had the back flap (a) the same width as the strap.
Straps read “Reg No” or “Rd No” 529336 “VICTOR” sometimes with MADE IN ENGLAND.
The most common surviving E.J. Pearson and Sons strap is this, the Victor strap, shown in full length below. The similarity to currently marketed NATO nylon straps is obvious.
ABOVE IS A VICTOR STRAP WITH A SPRUNG DAPTABEL ADAPTOR HOLDING A POCKET WATCH.
THE VICTOR REG. NO. 529336 PROVIDES ALL THE NECESSARY DNA TO THE MUCH LATER MILITARY NATO NYLON STRAP NSN 6645-99-124-2986. THE GRAIL STRAP, A NOS VICTOR MODEL 529336 BELOW IS 205MM LONG AND 9MM WIDE.
HERE IT IS ON A SILVER WATCH WITH SHRAPNEL GUARD.
IMAGE COURTESY: AUCKLAND WAR MEMORIAL MUSEUM