Bund Strap and Leather Cuff Watch Band History

History of Bund Straps

Hello, watch enthusiasts! Let's explore the history and unique features of the bund strap or as they are often called these days, leather cuff bands.

Vintage Bund Strap

Let's look into a bit of history. The cuff watch band, characterized by a watch sitting on a broad pad with straps threaded through, has origins predating the 1970s. There are indications that wristwatches in the 1920s were mounted on leather cuffs. This could have been to prevent tarnishing from brass watch cases due to sweat, which would also lead to skin staining. However, these bands gained prominence and functionality primarily due to their use in the military.
World War 2 Pilot With Bund Strap
"Bund" is a key term hinting at this strap's origins. The bund strap was designated for German aviators during World War II by the Federal Republic of Germany, known as "Bundesrepublik" in German. Just as the "NATO Strap" name comes from the G10 NATO form soldiers had to complete to obtain it, the bund strap derives its name from the nation of its first users.

What sets a bund strap apart? The primary distinction between a bund and typical leather straps is an additional leather pad. This pad is threaded with the strap's main ends, adding an extra layer between the watch caseback and the wrist, reminiscent of the NATO strap's design. Typically, the additional leather matches the primary strap in color and texture. But, the defining factor is just the extra layer, meaning any two-piece leather strap can be transformed into a bund strap, barring some exceptions.

This extra leather layer is purposeful. Originally designed for pilots in combat, it protected against various hazards. For instance, in a cabin fire, a watch's metal back could become searing hot and potentially burn the wearer's skin. The bund layer provided protection. Similarly, in freezing high-altitude conditions, this layer prevented the watch from sticking to the wrist.

In the vibrant 1970s, Bund straps moved out of fighter jet cockpits to become a fashion staple. Their robust leather design was an ideal match for the era's high boots and fringed suede attire. Icons like Elvis, Miles Davis, and Nina Rindt donned these straps, elevating their style quotient. However, the real testament to the Bund strap's prominence lies with the trio of McQueen, Redford, and Newman. McQueen paired his with a Hanhart chronograph, reminiscent of the German air force's style, while Redford sported a Doxa SUB 300T Sharkhunter dive watch on a black Bund accentuated with silver rivets in the film "Three Days of the Condor."

Paul Newman Bund Strap

Undoubtedly, Paul Newman is best remembered for adorning his Rolex Daytona with a crocodile Bund strap. In the 1970s, figures like him symbolized the epitome of American style, reflecting the country's golden era of confident athleticism. This period, characterized by the triumph of the Moon landing and preceding the challenges of the Nixon era and the complexities of Vietnam, showcased an America basking in global prominence.

Since the era of Reagan, Bund straps lost their once-prominent allure, lagging behind the revived charm of the NATO, a fellow military-inspired strap. However, there are murmurs of its resurgence. Brands like Tudor and Montblanc, with their Heritage Ranger and 1858 Geosphere models respectively, embrace this style. Intriguingly, both these models bear the design influence of Davide Cerrato and exude a rugged, adventurous aesthetic. Moreover, the recent surge in popularity of the Paul Newman Daytona has once again spotlighted the Bund strap.

The most popular watch now in the world is the Apple Watch and Bund inspired straps are often seen with a variety of leather cuffs available such as the one offered here at Infinity Loops.  Your Apple Watch may not be burning hot while you're flying a WW2 era fighter but you'll inherit at least a bit of the legacy when you have one on your wrist.

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