Bands, loops, classic and modern buckles, or link bracelets — the Apple Watch collection offers a wide range of straps for you to choose from.
That gives you a lot of choice, but it also means you might have a harder time making a choice. There are bands for active lifestyles, for casual comfort, and for elegant occasions. There are bands with pins, with magnetic fasteners, and with traditional buckles. There are bands with earth tones and made of metal. There are... a lot of bands! If you're having trouble deciding, here's some help!
Two case colors, fourteen bands
The Apple Watch collection comes in two different case colors — stainless steel and diamond-like-carbon (DLC) space black stainless steel. The black Apple Watch is only available with the black link bracelet. The standard Apple Watch is available with thirteen different band options, some unique to the 38mm size, others to the 42mm size.
All 38mm Apple Watches are compatible with all 38mm bands, and all 42mm Apple Watches are compatible with all 42mm bands. So, you'll be able to get other bands later and mix and match. You might not be able to get them right away, however, and availability may vary in the future. That means, if there's a band you have your heart set on, you might want to get it right away to make sure you have it.
Sport and Edition
While this guide covers the bands sold with the stainless steel Apple Watch, these bands are also sold separately and can be used with Apple Watch Sport or Apple Watch Edition.
If you're getting an Apple Watch Sport or Apple Watch Edition, but are looking to expand your band options, this guide can help you as well.
Not all band styles are available for both watch sizes, and not all colors are available with all cases.
- Modern Buckle is 38mm only
Leather loop is 42mm only
Black link bracelet is space black case only
If you want one of those bands, you'll have to get the size or color case that it comes with.
Apple Watch bands come in a range of sizes fitting between 120mm and 220mm. Not all bands fit all sizes, however. Also, while the sport bands come in two sizes, other bands will require you to pick the right size at the time of purchase.
Here are the 38mm Apple Watch band sizes:
- Sport band: 130-180mm, 150-200mm
- Modern Buckle: 135-150mm, 145-165mm, 160-180mm
- Classic buckle: 125-200mm
- Milanese loop: 130-180mm
- Link bracelet: 135-195mm
Here are the 42mm Apple Watch band sizes:
- Sport band: 140-185mm, 160-210mm
- Leather loop: 150-185mm, 180-210mm
- Classic buckle: 145-215mm
- Milanese loop: 150-200mm
- Link bracelet: 140-205mm
The sport band and Milanese loop offer the best range on the smaller size, and the sport band and leather loop offer the best range on the larger size. If you fall towards one of the extremes, you'll need to consider a band that has you covered.
Just like sizes, the different Apple Watch bands also have different weights. Whether you want to keep things as light as possible, or you want to get heavy, it's something else to consider.
38mm band weights, from lightest to heaviest:
- Classic buckle: 16g
- Modern buckle: 23g/23g/24g
- Milanese loop: 33g
- Black sport band: 37g
- White sport band: 47g
- Steel link bracelet: 65g
42mm band weights, from lightest to heaviest:
- Classic buckle: 19g
- Leather loop: 30g/33g
- Black sport band: 40g
- Milanese loop: 41g
- White sport band: 51g
- Steel link bracelet: 75g
For the lightest possible combination, you'll want the classic buckle. To double (or triple) down on heavy, you'll want the steel link.
Water and wear
Most of the Apple Watch bands should work well under most conditions. Some bands, however, will be better suited to specific use cases. If you want to work out with your Apple Watch, the Sport Band is probably your best bet. Likewise if you plan to get it wet. Leather shouldn't go in the shower, after all.
If you want something soft and supple, however, and that looks good when you go out, leather can be both casual — the loops — and formal — the buckles. As always, lighter colors may be more susceptible to dirt and stains, and darker colors to dust and scratches.
Milanese is metal but feels more like fabric. It's incredibly soft and supple, yet tough and durable. There's no blackout option, however, so you have to like your stainless steel bright and polished.
The steel link bracelet is, literally, the heavy metal. Chips and scratches might be something to think about, especially with the blacked out version, but it'll take some time on the market before we'll know for sure.
So, the rubbers and metals should be the most resistant to daily wear and tear, but the leathers should be the most comfortable.
Buckles vs. loops
Buckles are timeless. Everyone knows how they look and work. Loops are newer. They use magnets. That makes them almost like elastic waist-bands. Unlike buckles, where you can fall between the notches, loops can fit any size along the range. Also, they can easily be adjusted during the day to ensure maximum comfort even for minor fluctuations for hydration or any other factor.
Apple will be selling all the Apple Watch bands separately at some point. That means you can have multiple bands and switch them up whenever the mood strikes you. All 38mm bands are compatible with the 38mm Watch, and all 42mm bands are compatible with the 42mm Watch. (38mm bands are not compatible with 42mm Watches or vice versa.)
If you're interested in a colored sport band for the Apple Watch, or any sport band for the blacked out Apple Watch, this is your way to get them. For a price!
- Sport bands: $49
- Classic buckle: $149
- Milanese loop: $149
- Leather loop: $149
- Modern buckle: $249
- Link bracelet: $449
All colors cost the same, so it's really just the style you have to consider.
Who should get the Apple Watch with sport band?
The sports band is for those who want to be active. The fluoroelastomer — think high-performance rubber — is ideal for walking or running, for taking into the gym or even into the shower (if you want to risk it). White might show dirt or discoloration more, black might show dust or scratches more, but Apple's been making materials for a long time now and both will no doubt last a good long while. They're also the least expensive bands, so if you need to replace or even swap them, it won't break the bank.
For the other Apple Watch sport band colors, sold separately, see:
Who should get the Apple Watch with black classic buckle?
Edition variants not withstanding, the classic buckle only comes in black. The leather comes from the ECCO tannery in the Netherlands, and is milled to a distinct texture and finished with a simple stainless steel closure. As the name implies, if you love traditional watch straps and closures, you'll love the classic buckle.
Who should get the Apple Watch with modern buckle?
The leather for the modern buckle is from a small tannery in Granada in the French alps. It's lightly milled and tumbled to maintain a smooth, refined texture in the most classic sense of the words. To that is added a Vectran (liquid crystal polymer) fiber weave to increase strength and resist stretching. It's the same material, Apple says, that NASA used for the airbags in the Mars Lander. That's all kept closed by a solid buckle that's actually a two-part magnetic clip. Bring it together and it locks into place. It's only available in the 38mm size, but if you want a buckle and you want it state-of-the-art, you'll want the modern buckle.
Black will go with everything. Midnight blue and brown are also classics but each takes its own side and makes it's own statement. Soft pink is closer to white than red. All three of them are more interesting if more limiting, and you'll likely already know if you lean in one of their directions.
Who should get the Apple Watch with Milanese loop?
Named for a design from late 19th century Milan, the stainless steel loop is woven on special Italian machines to create a mesh that's both tough as metal and yet supple as leather. The closure is magnetic, which means you can make just as exactly tight or loose as you like. That makes the Milanese loop ideal for anyone who wants something old and yet distinctive, hard and yet soft, and as adjustable as possible.
Who should get the Apple Watch with the leather loop?
The leather loop is hand-crafted from Venzia leather from Arzignano, Italy. Milled and tumbled to produce a pebbled texture, magnets are quilted inside which allow it to preserve its classic look but enjoy the convenience of a modern closure. It's only available in the 42mm size, but if you want something that blends old world and new, that adds the comfort of leather to the infinite adjustability of a magnetic band, you'll want the leather loop.
Black will give the classic look. Stone and light brown are earthier, one lighter and the other darker in tone. The usual trade-off between dirt and dust applies. Bright blue is for those who want a little more flash, but not too much.
Who should get the Apple Watch with steel link bracelet?
The link bracelet is the heaviest and most expensive band Apple currently offers, and many people are going to want it not only regardless, but because. Made from 316L stainless steel, it's composed of over 100 parts and takes over 9 hours to make. Each link is a distinct size and, once assembled, the entire bracelet is hand polished. As the classic buckle is to leather, the link bracelet is to metal. What Apple brings is an easy way to add and remove links to adjust the size without having to go to watchmaker or jeweler, and a new butterfly closure that's both simple and elegant.
The stainless steel link bracelet can be purchased separately, but the carbon space black versions comes only with the carbon space black Apple Watch. Both are for people who like their metal watches to be metal watches.
At the end of the day, the only real answer is get the band you like best. Everything else is manufactured anxiety. Just close your eyes, picture your Apple Watch on your wrist, and picture the band around it. Then buy that. If you later change your mind, you can always pick up an extra band in a different style or color.