The Blushark Orca is one of the best NATO straps I have had and I reviewed it very positively here. Based on the Blushark Orca, I had very high hopes for the Blushark Knitweave. The Blushark Knitweave straps come with either 20mm and 22mm width and are supplied with brushed hardware. The straps come in well known colors such as navy, khaki, green and black along with color combinations with highlight line.
The Blushark Knitweave straps are great on paper. They are keeperless, thin and seem perfect for a tool watch. However, in practice, the results are lukewarm at best. The strap could be slightly thicker, less glossy and slightly coarser and they would work much better for toolwatches. Due to the glossiness, the colors of the strap are slightly off. The khaki is too light and the army green is a little too deep. Consequently, the Knitweave straps sit somewhere between seatbelt-style and standard nato straps.
A word of warning: for flat watches where there isn’t much angle between the spring bars and the case back, the straps are somewhat dangerous due to the slickness. I nearly dropped my Tag Heuer 180.023 while taking the watch off, because the watch slid off the strap. The strap is also thin enough to justify a keeper. The straps are definitely for enthusiasts who enjoy thin straps.
I was initially hoping for a cheaper alternative to a Tudor-style nato strap, but I had hard time matching the straps with the watches in my collection. I can see that these straps could work with watches with colorful dials withand polished surfaces. Because of OK, but not great wrist comfort, the glossy texture and color and slickness, I have hard time seeing these becoming permanent choice for any of my watches. For people who enjoy thin seat-belt-style fabric straps, the Knitweave can be a welcome addition.
In the past few years, we have seen the introduction a few new Nato strap styles such as Tudor knit straps, Omega seatbelt straps, Marine Nationale stretch straps and perlon straps. Compared to a standard Canvas NATO strap, these new strap styles are a little different and aim to provide better comfort, slimmer profile, better adjustment and more colours and textures.
Omega and Tudor straps are also quite expensive. The general sentiment is that these straps are high quality and built by manufacturers with access to manufacturing facilities and materials unavailable to smalltime producers. However, one might think there is only so much you can do with a fabric and there must be a point of diminishing returns somewhere.
In simplest terms, Nato strap is a piece of cloth that is used to tie a wrist watch to your wrist. The point of the whole thing is that a Nato strap is cheap and disposable, and once the strap is worn out, you chuck it and buy another. Things I expect from a Nato strap:
Not made out of too fancy or weak material
Lasts a long time.
Fabric doesn’t undo.
Blushark Orca is a heavy-duty strap. Its distinctive feature is the waffle weave that sets it apart from basic canvas straps. The strap is thick, so you don’t perhaps want to wear your 1,7cm thick Planet Ocean GMT on one. However, for the thickness, you get excellent looks and a thick durable strap that seems like it’ll last a lifetime.
I’ve worn my Seiko Turtle SRP777 on one, and it works just fine. While the SRP777 is not particularly high, its still 14mm. For smaller watches such as skin divers and military watches the strap is perfect. It wears comfortably and the extra thickness doesn’t bother at all. The waffle pattern is different enough and the conservative colors create a very desirable rugged look.
The available colors are fairly limited, but yet enough. Colors that particularly work well with the Orca waffle strap are: army green, khaki, navy blue and gray. In addition to these the strap is available in the both standard ‘Bond’ colors, but I don’t participate in secret agent LARPs so I never wear those.
In addition to the standard conservative colors of Blushark also offers some brighter colors. Of these, my favourite is the gray and orange and bright orange. The gray and orange works exceptionally well with titanium / bead blasted finishes. A colour that is on my wish list is burgundy or wine red. I’d definitely wear it with my watches with red details such as red seconds hand or red text.
Price & Packaging
Individually, the price of the Blushark straps is somewhat steep at 19 USD (checked in August 2020). However, Blushark runs ‘buy 2 get 1’ and ‘buy 3 get 5’ offers, which radically change the value proposition. This coupled with free shipping and -20% after a special offer such as holiday or sale and you have nearly unbeatable price per strap a little over 10 USD a piece.
The single biggest disappointment with the Blusharp Orca strap is the packaging. Each strap comes individually packaged in a plastic foil. This is quite literally, total waste. The strap could come either in thin paper or — surprise surprise: no packaging at all. This may be difficult to implement as obsessed strap enthusiasts will return the products when encountering the slightest scuff on the hardware.
Whereas the recent trend has been copying Omega and Tudor straps, the waffle weave Orca is a reminder what a strap should be. With the price of single Omega strap, you can buy 20 Blushark straps. Blushark offers a serious good looking Nato strap for a decent price that definitely works well with tool watches.