If you remember when Velcro first came available to the public, it came in the form of Velcro watch straps. These straps often came attached to those awful digital watches that were all the rage for a few minutes. Digital watches still exist, but you do not see them so often these days. People for some reason prefer analog timepieces and I have noticed that many vehicle manufacturers who once had digital instruments in their vehicles have gone back to using analog again.
But the Velcro watch straps remain – and rightly so. I do not know how many watches I have lost over the years because of a malfunctioning watch strap. Either the buckle comes unstitched, or those little spring bars that attached to the sides of the watch cave in, and the whole watch disappeared forever.
The first Velcro was invented in Switzerland and was made of cotton velor and a loopy cotton crocheted material – hence the name vel from velor and cro from crochet. It was not particularly efficient when it was first invented, being made from cotton meant it was not terrible tactile or durable. I can remember even back in the 70s Velcro watch straps used to act like lint rollers, after a few weeks of wear they would pick up bits of fluff from whatever you were wearing and looked pretty awful after a while.
With the huge strides made in the plastics and materials industry, Velcro watch straps today are amazing things. They last forever, are washable, waterproof, come in every different size and color imaginable, and for all those years of technology, they are incredibly cheap. So cheap in fact you can buy a Velcro watch strap to match whatever outfit you want to wear, for just a couple of dollars, and you will never have to worry about losing your watch.
Velcro is used by NASA in space suits, is used inside space capsules to secure any number of things to the walls, but still makes it easy to remove whatever it is the Velcro is holding up. Velcro is used in suits made for firefighters and those involved with dealing with hazardous chemicals, if the suit needs to come off quickly it strips easily in cases of emergency but places put when required – no more fiddling with buttons and buckles.
As a child we struggled with learning to tie shoe laces – it was a major achievement when you could tie your own. Now children's shoes often incorporate Velcro closures, so easy to put on and take off, without bothering mom, or falling flat on your face when you trip over your own laces!
Velcro watch straps are just a small example of what this amazing fabric can do and has come a long way since it was invented by George de Mestral in 1941. The move from a cotton-based product to incorporating the very latest polyester and synthetic fibers has improved its efficiency and durability dramatically. It holds things onto walls, and keeps things in place on vehicles. I wonder if Monsieur de Mestral had any idea all those years ago that a simple Velcro watch strap may one day end up traveling to distant planets by way of a spaceship.