Colorful. Smooth. Sporty. The Apple Watch's base-level band is anything but cheap.
I had no choice in the matter of getting a Sport band: I ordered an Apple Watch Sport, and it's the only band you can get in the box with the Sport collection. You do have a choice of color, at the least: white, blue, pink, green, or (if you opt for the Space Grey aluminum model) black. I chose white for my initial purchase, thinking it would go well with most everything, and anyway, I was going to swap it for a Milanese as soon as the separate $129 band shipped.
It's been about a month and a half since that thought, and surprise: I've found myself only using the Milanese for special, fancier occasions.
I also may have picked up every other color of Sport band available.
Reinventing the new
Sport band design
The design of the Sport band is almost identical to bands found on Apple designer Marc Newson's old Ikepod watch line: It's an open-band design with high-performance fluoroelastomer — a nice way of saying "high-quality, fancy rubber" — and a tuck-under clasp to keep the band secure and snug.
The more I wear the Sport, the more I love its simple design. I was not a huge fan of the tuck-under clasp when I first tried on the Sport — one of my big reasons for wanting to buy a Milanese option — but the more I've worn my watch, the easier that clasp has become to fasten and unfasten.
That clasp also gives the band a smooth underbelly that won't catch on clothes, corners, or laptops. From afar, it just looks like one piece of smooth rubber, a slight outward diamond patterning on the underside of your wrist the only indication that there might be the wayward tail of a band hiding underneath.
On design alone, the matte fluoroelastomer band displays its colors vibrantly, and fluidly connects to the Watch body. I love Apple's decision to encase the lugs themselves in fluoroelastomer; on a Sport, Steel, or even Edition watch, the band looks just as classy. It works with just about any model of Apple Watch, and moreover, it works well.
That's honestly one of the bits that impresses me about the Sport band: It doesn't look, feel, or scream "cheap." It may be the most inexpensive of Apple's band accessories, but the company hasn't cut any corners or given users a "starter band" that they're going to wear once and then put in a box somewhere: The Sport band has a style all its own.
It melts into your wrist
Sport band wearability
As someone who barred watches from her life for a good decade and a half, a big reason for that was not wanting to deal with cruddy, itchy watch bands.
I wore rubber bands and leather bands alike as a young girl, and I remember despising them both — but especially the rubber bands. They were sweaty. They were itchy. They were uncomfortable and pinched my skin when it was warm outside. And they attracted dirt like nothing else.
The Sport band is none of these things: It's cool on your skin. It sits so snugly on your wrist that it moves with you — as if the Watch has become part of your body — rather than torque against your wrist. It doesn't itch, even after playing hours of roller derby with it hidden under a wrist guard and sweatband. And while my Sport band occasionally got dirty, it cleaned up in seconds with a makeup wipe.
Whether you get it as part of your collection or as a separate accessory, the band comes in three pieces for proper sizing: The first piece, which contains the short metal pin, is the same regardless of your wrist girth. The second two pieces are offered in two sizes: S/M and M/L. Both pieces have seven pin holes, several of which overlap, to provide accurate sizing for in-between wrists. Each hole is equally spaced on each band, but rather than have the same hole placement overlap on the S/M and M/L, those holes actually only overlap by half, which means you're actually getting more discrete sizing between hole spacing depending on the band you're wearing.
The clasp, as I mentioned above, gave me some initial difficulty in one-handed attachment: It's one of the most tricky bands in Apple's collection to attach, and is probably the one that will give those with accessibility issues or shakier hands the most trouble. I got used to the motion fairly quickly, but it's one of the only things my father complains about when we talk about his Apple Watch.
I'm personally willing to make this tradeoff because the clasp trades a slightly awkward attachment for secure, seamless wearing. Once you've attached the band to the pin and tucked it under, the Watch ceases to be "an accessory that hangs off your wrist" and becomes part of your wrist. You still might get a little initial wrist pinching when tucking the band if you're in a humid climate, but overall, the clasp keeps the watch incredibly secure on your wrist and gets easier to one-handedly put on with time.
I barely notice I'm wearing the Watch most days unless I get a taptic notification, and that's exactly the way I want it to be. I don't want my arm to feel weighted down or to pinch against the band when I flick my wrist. I just want my Watch to exist as part of me, and the Sport band helps me do just that.
Swapping bands is absurd fun
Sport band style
As a joke, when my father and I first got our watches, I stole his M/L blue Sport band piece and paired it with my White band clasp. "R2D2 band!" my mother immediately pointed out. (The things our subconscious does when we don't really think about it.) But this, dear readers, was just my initial foray into the wide world of Sport band color swapping.
I can't say whether Jony Ive and Marc Newson ever intended for their fluoroelastomer creations to be color-mixed, but the fifteen possible results you can create with the five Sport bands are excellent: There are no two colors that actively clash with each other, even the weirdest combinations (watermelon pink-and-green, for example, or neon green-and-blue).
Combinations I thought looked bizarre for most normal clothing also look stellar when paired with more unique outfits. That green-and-blue combo looks a lot better when you're also wearing a neon-blue t-shirt, as I discovered when wearing it to a dance party last weekend.
You can see all the color combinations for yourself right here, and discover which you love, and which ones you resolutely loathe. You may be a traditionalist and not want anything to do with color swapping.
But I whole-heartedly recommend it: For another $49 — or heck, if you have a friend with a Sport and you wear different band sizing — you can give yourself a whole new band style. If you swap, that's $100 cheaper than buying the next cheapest band (Apple's Milanese). Even buying a second band is $49 cheaper.
Should you buy?
The bottom line
The Sport band excels at its stated purpose: a high-quality band you can use while exercising that doesn't come loose nor itch the wearer. But if you like bright colors, color swapping, or want something stylish that doesn't come with the price tag of Apple's more expensive bands, you can't go wrong with picking up an additional color. My only hesitation in recommending is for those older users or those with hand-related accessibility issues, as the clasp may not be as easy to put on and remove as other bands.
But for everyone else, the Sport band is fun, it's comfy, and once you bring color swapping into the mix, full of possibilities.