Bougie BluShark NATO Straps Review

Reviewing the AlphaShark, AlphaPremier, AlphaPerfit, and Pajamas

To tell the truth, I used to disdain the very concept of a “luxury NATO” strap. Moreover, I was irked by those who endorsed them. I would have compared the simple idea of it to a gaudy Jeep Wrangler—missing the point and robbing the spirit of the original intent behind its innovation. This is the person I used to be… and while I might pat him on the back for being a purist, I’ll assume he only felt this way out of ignorance.

My first foray into spending more than $10 on superior webbing was from Ute Watch Co (formerly Toxic NATOs), specifically the Shiznit. I was inspired. I can only imagine what a high quality hooker feels like on the wrist, but I’d have to believe the experience would encourage the wearer to explore their other options. What about a Thai hooker? Ukrainian? German? Brazilian? And so, naturally, my enthusiasm lead me toward BluShark.

BluShark Straps is headquartered out of the USA (straps made overseas) and offers a ton of different options beyond traditional NATO. Holidays often coincide with 20% off, but their most attractive incentive is the standing “buy three, get two” deal. The below options are among the highest-priced you’ll find, most of which can be outfitted with brushed or polished hardware.


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AlphaShark NATO

The Good: As their flagship model, the AlphaShark comes in a ton of colorways. It’s heavy-duty, heat-treated along the edges, and reflects a mild sheen across its weave. The second keeper is adjustable to slide up and down the strap with roughly an inch of play to accommodate the end of the strap to easily tuck it back. The curved buckle is branded with the BluShark logo on the side. The quality will make you second guess ordering any generic no-name straps from Amazon ever again.

The Not-so-Good: As far as NATOs go, this thing is relatively stiff… and thicc. It measures at 1.4mm, but unlike the Ute Shiznit (the same thickness), flexing doesn’t come as easily with wrist movement. To those particular about case height, it’s everything a NATO newbee would fear (seeing their watch in orbit above the wrist), especially if they were thin-wristed. Depending on the distance between the case and the springbar, it may not even fit some vintage watches.

AlphaPremier NATO

As the “crème de la crème” option, the AlphaPremier is a significant step up in fit and finish from the AlphaShark. Whereas the Shark was conceived with durability in mind, it feels downright vulgar next this refined alternative. The weave here is tighter, but more pliable. Its texture feels less like nylon and more like silk. The Premier measures at 1.2mm thick, yet it feels thinner somehow—and its appearance on the wrist reflects the sentiment. Just like the Alpha, this strap comes with the same hardware and the feature for adjusting the second keeper.

Until something better comes along, my preferences will probably lean toward the Premier for future strap options from BluShark.

Alpha PerFit NATO

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was promised a land of honey and it got swapped with an Indian burial ground… and I’ll always be the first guy in the room to assume there’s something wrong with me, but after fiddling with the Alpha PerFit for the better part of an hour, I’ve decided that I hate this strap. I hate it. I hate it. If I ever hear somebody say, “Ugh, I can’t stand natos,” my temporal lobe will inflame with the memory of YouTubing “how to perfit.”

The idea was well-intentioned. Take the AlphaPremier material and give it the “single pass” treatment so that it’s an even slimmer profile against the wrist. For me, what botches this is the length of the strap being too short to tuck back into the second keeper. The end just sort of hangs out with no sense of finality for security. That, and it’s a pain to adjust the fit at the buckle location. I’m sure there are a ton of folks who think it’s genius, but I can’t count myself among them.

If this looks suspiciously similar to Tudor’s Black Bay NATO strap, that’s because it is—both in concept and exact appearance for the brushed buckle hardware, where even the BluShark logo is omitted.

Pajama Stretch NATO

Once upon a time, people got dressed for traveling at airports. At minimum, collared shirts were expected for men and dresses or skirts (with appropriate footwear) for women. A couple collapsing towers and MTV generations later, you’re now sitting in coach beside a Cheetos-encrusted six year-old trapped in a sixteen year-old’s body who’s rockin’ Crocs and SpongeBob SquarePants pajamas. He paid just as much for the ticket as you did, but you feel the universe is somehow getting a raw deal by comparison for appearance and value. Such is the case for BluShark’s Pajama Stretch strap.

While it may be the most comfortable of the bunch, the elastic NATO isn’t without its flaws. It’s available in two-tone patterns that would work well with a sporty design, and even some that would replicate the appearance of an RAF-style Erica’s Original—but don’t confuse this for something that’s military-grade.

As with any pair of novelty pajamas, the material wasn’t made to last.  Of all the straps above the $30 mark, this one has the shortest half-life for wear due to the elasticity and fabric break down.  It’s also a bit of a dirt magnet to boot. These considerations in mind, the price seems a bit steep when you could just pivot back to the Premier line for several dollars more.


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Are BluShark NATO Straps Worth The Money?

Don’t be a philistine. If you’re going to own a watch in excess of $300, it should rate something of quality to keep on the wrist. We are fortunate to live in a time where the bar’s been raised in congruence with competition. The variety is greater and so are the number of retailers—there’s value to be found.

Today, James Bond would no longer need to settle for repurposed Christmas ribbon to keep his Submariner in place. In fact, if MI6 were to even suggest the very notion of settling, he’d probably reason with Q in the same manner as he would’ve with his plot devices. Connery, himself, would probably endorse the Premier because, “In the end, there can only be one AlphaShark…”

(*Pew Pew* Throws guy off a catwalk.)

“Anything elsh is jusht a Beta.”

For more insight, check out TBWS Podcast: Episode 9 where Kaz and Mike pick the brain of Terry Williams, founder of Ute Watch Co.

Damon Bailey( Contributor )

Damon is based out of the Bay Area, where he’s a black sheep among Apple Watch loyalists. Having served as a Combat Engineer with the USMC, he believes a true field watch’s success is measured by how closely it compares to a “G-Shock.” Nonsensically, a background in design has guided his preference toward higher craft, as he struggles to become the lifestyle his watch tastes more closely reflect.


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