Previously, I wrote an article about some of my favorite analog-digital watches made by Victorinox Swiss Army... the Hunter Mach 1, 2 and 3. As time goes by, these watches may become more difficult to find on the used market, and certainly the original wristbands will be harder to acquire.
|The Swiss Army Hunter Mach 3, Mach 1 and Mach 2 from left to right.|
|The Hunter Mach 1 and 2 were Swiss Army's excellent take on pilot watches.|
Swiss Army Hunter Watch Band Styles
I have owned all three versions of the watchbands for the Swiss Army Hunter watches, and I always feel overprotective if I am not wearing the all-metal bracelet. This is because rubber and plastic can degrade leading to a failure in materials. The high-end version was a seamless all-metal bracelet that is an engineering marvel and feels practically indestructible.
|Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter Mach 2 on a coveted all-metal bracelet with deployment clasp is the best option!|
|The Hunter Mach 1 on a irreplaceable rubber watch band. I never should have sold mine...|
|The Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter Mach 2 with a metal/plastic hybrid bracelet looks great, but wears tight.|
|If this plastic breaks, the watchband is kaput. Swiss Army does not sell the insert part of the strap alone.|
|The all-metal bracelets are the safest bet when owning a Hunter Mach 3 or Hunter Mach 2 watch.|
A Future with No Replacement Watch Bands for the Swiss Army Hunter Watches
In the future, it's not difficult to imagine Hunter watches with broken watch bands. This poses an interesting design problem for me and other Swiss Army Hunter owners to solve. What could be done to keep these amazing watches on our wrists instead of stashed in a dusty drawer? Very few aftermarket watchbands could be considered direct replacements due to a narrow 12 mm lug gap. Many modern watchbands start as narrow as 16 mm and go as wide as 26 mm, so they simply would not fit.
Why not just throw a 12 mm watch strap on the Hunter and call it a day? Proportions come into play here. A thin watchband would look extremely silly... kinda like tying a watch to your wrist with a shoestring (see skinny strap below).
|Going too thin on the watchband might result in a silly looking and an uncomfortably wearing watch.|
|The Hunter watch case visually blends into the thick 28 mm strap. Leather watchbands will be thin by comparison.|
Replacement Leather Watch Bands for the Swiss Army Hunter Watches
Any replacement in leather should take thickness into account. A simple flat leather watchband will never have the same bulk or visual presence as the original bands, but sometimes, you have to compromise if you have no other options. There are many strap choices to consider, though some might work better than others. Maybe a Hunter bracelet could be replaced with another kind of leather bracelet like the semi-rigid one shown below that accommodates different lug sizes.
|Digital concept of a Swiss Army Hunter Mach 3 on a semi-rigid leather bracelet.|
|A Victorinox Swiss Army Hunter Mach 1 in a fictitious WW1 style watch band made for a pocket watch.|
|Some watch bands use a narrow leather loop and screw to attach a case. This could work if the loop was 12 mm wide.|
|A concept of a Swiss Army Mach 3 digital/analog watch on a thick leather bund strap.|
One of my first digital sketches was based on a bund strap that had a relatively thin center strap. It was not 12 mm thin, but close enough that I could have probably fit it in between the narrow lugs. Spring bars were not originally used on Hunter watches so a pin tool is used to remove the lug pins from the case.
|Early mockups of Swiss Army Hunter watches on bund straps with a thin center strap.|
The digital concept below on the saddle brown bund strap cuts 12 mm out of a 22 mm leather watch band. That leaves roughly 5 mm of leather material on either side of the center strip. I imagine those might have to be tucked under the watch (or trimmed). There is nothing stopping the slit leather from ripping, but I suppose a stitch or glue could be added to protect against this.
|Closeup of a slit wristband on a Hunter Mach 2. Check fitment before cutting.|
|A thicker bund style watch band might look better than a skinnier one because it will be visually balanced.|
|Trimming the end of a wide leather watchband down to 12 mm might work as seen here.|
|Concept of a Swiss Army Hunter Mach 3 on a leather bund strap with and without the cuff|
Replacement NATO Watch Straps for the Swiss Army Hunter Watches
NATO straps are incredibly popular because they are easy to swap giving watch wearers an endless array of colors and styles to change the look of a watch in seconds. It might also be possible to add slits to a NATO strap that is wider than the 12 mm lug gap. This might look strange and compromise the integrity of the band, but it could be another option.
|A leather NATO watchband could be slit and the Hunter watch installed onto it.|
|Concept of a Swiss Army Mach 3 on a replacement NATO strap with 12 mm slit center section.|
|NATO straps are made of nylon and come in many different colors and hardware options.|
Other Possible Watch Band Replacements for the Swiss Army Hunter Watches
Beyond these experiments, sci-fi solutions could be imagined using CNC machines or 3-D prototyping printers or hiring a jeweler to create a custom 12 mm lug insert that would allow the attachment of traditional watchbands. I am not sure how this could work, but I added a lug link to the digital sketch below. The lug link is attached to custom metal loops. I show this version with permanently sewn canvas straps attached. Alternately, a NATO strap could be inserted through the metal loops to allow quick strap changes.
|A fictitious watchband attachment system for the Swiss Army Hunter watches.|
Here is my helpful disclaimer. The ideas presented here are theoretical and not tested. You should always test your own makeshift watch band to prevent dropping your Hunter watch on the ground and damaging it. Specifically, the pin that holds the OEM bracelets in place can fall out when not inserted into an original Hunter watch band causing loss or damage. You are on your own if you try any of these techniques. There... the lawyers are happy now.