What is a NATO end piece or NEP? One example is that designed by the Watch Advisory Consultant or WAC, an independent and privately-owned design firm founded by Ken Phuah in 2013. The NATO End Piece is a watch accessory that is made of 316L stainless steel and this component that is fitted in between the lugs.
Phuah, who came up with the idea of the NATO End Piece (NEP), reveals that there were many reasons for creating such an accessory.
“One of the more important considerations was the protection of the spring bars,” he explains. With the NEP properly inserted between the lugs, the spring bars will be housed within the NEP steel component housing. It is therefore shielded against any hard knocks.
With the NATO End Piece fitted, any textile or leather strap is fitted through external loops integrated with NEP2. These loops can be seen just under the lugs after NEP2 is fitted to the watchcase.
But is an “end piece” or “end link” a necessity when such a component already comes with the original metal watch bracelet supplied with the watch? Well, another end link will not be necessary if one wishes to use the watch with the original metal bracelet.
However, if one would like to fit a NATO strap to the watch and not fret over spring bar failure, then Phuah’s NEP or rather, NEP2 will be an option to consider.
Why is it called the NEP2 rather than the NEP1? “The NEP2 as the numeral implies, is our second model. The first, the NEP1, is still under product development,” says Phuah.
In addition to the protection of the spring bars and the prevention of scratches to the inner lugs, using an NEP2 will also translate into better wrist comfort and a more secure strap.
Every set of NEP2 (comprising a pair of NATO End Pieces for the lugs on each end) comes supplied with a WAC NATO strap. This WAC strap does not have the extra flap security feature; therefore only one layer of the strap sits beneath the watchcase.
The good news for those more interested in leather straps is that NEP2 is not limited to only NATO strap users. WAC also supplies leather straps pre-attached to the NEP2.
The leather straps include soft goat skin, cowhide and alligator leather. Prices begin from SGD250 for cowhide and goat skin leather straps. Wild alligator skin leather straps are also available and these begin from SGD450 for a non-plated NEP2.
Can such straps be called a NATO straps? “This is a modified NATO strap,” says Phuah. “The spring bars are already protected by NEP2; therefore the likelihood of spring bar failure is very low. Moreover, the metal loop at the end of the extra flap of regular NATO straps may scratch the watch. There is no extra flap on NEP2.”
Perhaps the most important question on hand for those interested is whether NEP2 can fit into their wristwatches. “The NEP2 can currently be used on more than 16 wristwatch models,” says Phuah who will be expanding the offering.
Currently, the wristwatch models are mainly those made by Rolex and they include popular models from the GMT Master, Explorer, Submariner and Daytona collections. The NEP2 is even suitable for certain Tudor timepieces.
To determine the suitability of NEP2 for one’s watch, it is best to check WAC’s website on: www.wacnep.com and look for the relevant model’s reference numbers.