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Leather Loop band for Apple Watch review

I ordered the black version of the Leather Loop the same time I ordered my Black Steel Apple Watch. I just loved the way it looked at the Apple events and was eager to try it out. The Loop arrived a couple of weeks before my watch, but I had a stainless steel review unit, so it gave me a chance to try that pairing first. Since then I've been wearing the Leather Loop, off and on, for almost a month now and under a wide variety of circumstances. So, how's it holding up?

Quick take

Leather Loop band video review

If you'd rather see than read, our Apple Watch Leather Loop band video review has all the highlights.

Bands of future past

Leather Loop band design

There's a lot going on with the Leather Loop band. It's quilted into segment. It's milled and tumbled to enhance the pebble-like texture. And it loops over itself. As a result, when the light catches it, there's a depth to it beyond what you find on traditional leather bands like the Classic Buckle.

Apple Watch Leather Loop

Apple Watch Leather Loop (Image credit: iMore)

Like several of the other bands, the Leather Loop harkens back to the earlier works of designer Marc Newson, who joined his long time friend, Jony Ive, to collaborate on the Apple Watch project. The look was futuristic years ago, now it's got a definite retro sci-fi vibe.

While I've tried on the other colors, black is the only one I've bought so far. I wore it with the stainless steel case for about a week, then wore it with the Space Black case. I've also tried it, briefly, on the silver aluminum Sport case. I like the look with all of them.

Unfortunately for those with 38mm Watches, the Leather Loop is currently only available for the 42mm models. Hopefully that'll change at some point. Because the color of the band is carried all the way through to the lugs, it works with both the black and silver Watch cases.

Like yoga pants for your wrist

Leather Loop band wearability

The Leather Loop comes in two sizes. Medium fits wrists 150mm to 185mm and large fits wrists 180mm to 210mm. Because it's a loop and has a magnetic closure, it's not limited to adjustment holes within those sizes. You can snap the Loop into place anywhere along its circumference. That means you can not only get the perfect fit for your wrist, but you can adjust that fit as often and as precisely as you want throughout the day. If it starts to feel a little loose, tighten it up. If its clawing at you, give yourself some extra room. While not technically infinite, the sizing options are for all intents and purposes, limitless.

The magnet strength on the Leather Loop is well chosen. It closes with a satisfying snap and stays firmly in place even when your arms are moving energetically. When you want to remove it, however, it's easy to peel off. As a result, I've never had to worry about it coming loose, even when horsing around, or being tough to adjust when I want to quickly make a change.

The leather does feel a little stiff, which I'm guessing has to do with the magnetic substructure. Where the band loops through is also, by nature of that loop, bulkier than the rest of the band. I've never noticed it in daily wear, though. I have noticed the quilted sections crinkling slightly at times within the loop.

The Leather Loop isn't water proof the way the Sport Band, Milanese Loop, or Link Bracelet are. It's leather, so you will want to be careful about liquids. I switch to the Sport Band when exercising, especially when out in drizzle or light rain, for just that reason. I don't even think about showering with the Loop either. I have washed my hands and dishes with it, and it has gotten rained on by accident, and it's been just fine.

After working out, or when it's especially humid, I like that the Leather Loop isn't impermeable. It absorbs just enough moisture to keep my wrist feeling dry and comfortable.

And comfort is what the Leather Loop is all about.

Should you buy?

The bottom line

The Leather Loop isn't for those who want something to exercise with or take into the shower, or for anyone who wants something closer to a classic buckle. The Leather Loop is for those who want something different. It's for those who want the feel of leather but a look unlike any buckle. For those who want endless adjustability and casual comfort that's still good looking enough for a night on the town.

Though I've been wearing it for a few weeks, the Leather Loop still looks as good as the day it arrived. There's no visual signs of wear or staining or anything at all. I'll be interested to see how that holds up over the next few weeks and months. Either way, the Leather Loop has become one of my favorite bands. I highly recommend the Leather Loop and look forward to wearing it on many more occasions.

More Apple Watch reviews

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Thanks, Rene! This statement: "...casual comfort that's still good looking enough for a night on the town." Well . . . I think you've made me want one of these bands now.
  • I love the look of the magnetic loop. It would probably look at home in "Alien". Having tried it on for only 10 seconds, I didn't really like the texture - it felt a little too plasticky and inorganic. Can anyone comment (Rene?) if they feel the same way, or if the texture evolves over time?
  • So, you would suggest I try it in person first?
  • If you can, it's always great to try on in person.
  • I have the blue leather loop and the feeling of the band has only gotten better since putting it on.
  • I don't know is used to make this band, but I love how it looks and feels!!
  • Actually, I feel like all the bands are worth trying on in person. The texture of the materials, strength of the magnets, how it catches light, etc. are things you don't really get from the press photos. Personally, I found the texture to be a little too impervious - but maybe that makes it more sweat resistant. The magnets are impressive though, acting almost like a snap band or a 50-segmented Smart Cover.
  • I know you have a lot of bands. I was wondering how often you change them and how durable is the mechanism. I would like to order the leather band when my watch comes in but worried about changing it every day before going to the gym. Sent from the iMore App
  • I've been wearing a different band each day, so I can test them all. Sometimes I change during the day for a specific reason, but mostly I keep it on the full day. Sp far the mechanism has been just as good every day as the first.
  • I just received mine today. Hooray for Saturday delivery. One potential problem not mentioned in the article is figuring out what size to buy. My wrists are right on the edge between the last notch on the small sport band and a couple from the other end on the large sport band. Knowing what size each one fits I went with the large leather loop but the magnetic clasp is right on the end of loop. I can actually tighten it enough to have it overlap the edge of the watch but that is a little too tight. I suppose I could have made the trip to an Apple Store to try them out. It worked out though.
  • This loop looks better with the uncoated stainless steel finish, to my eyes (based on Rene's photos). Space Black + Link bracelet combo is still my favourite, with the humble Space Grey Sport version coming in second. Stainless steel + traditional leather buckle in third.
  • I like the look of it, but I really don't like the inevitable smell after a few months of staphylococcus aureus bacteria that feeds off dead skin cells and oil, all of which accumulate in leather and cloth bands. With a regular watch, you can just throw out the leather band and get a new one for $20 -- $150 to get rid of that smell is a little rich for my blood. I'll stick with my Sports Band, at least until I've paid off my watch ;-)
  • I love the blue leather loop, but I can't bring myself to spend $150 on it. If it were $79, then that would be a different story. Sent from the iMore App
  • I don’t have a leather loop yet, however it seems the large size is more like X-Large I think the end of the loop should be under the watch if you know what I mean, seeing some of the loops online and they’re almost at the watch seems far too large
    You MUST try one on first before buying, I thought I’d be a large Sport band, but I’m using the smaller strap of the 42 Blue and it sits on the 3rd or 2nd last hole fine. My wrist is 180mm Rene
    Can you make a review on the apple watch size guide PDF and confirm which straps are accurate and which are slightly off, for example How does the Milanese compare to the leather Loop(s) M&L size ?
  • My wrist is 190. A friend has the large, and his wrist is comparable to mine... it wraps all the way around and JUST stops at the watch. Too long? Extra strength with all those magnets? It doesn't look bad, because it is all the same all the way around.
  • I too am looking for more definitive sizes on these straps. My wrist is 235, which is off the charts for ALL Apple Watch bands. However, the leather loop fits me just fine. I really need accurate sizing for these bands so I'll know if my wrist fits or not.
  • Excellent review Rene! From day one, this and the Milanese have been my favorite. For me personally, it has always been about "is it worth $149?" I'm very happy with my black Sports Band, and find it perfectly fine for everyday use. At this point, a month into the release of  Watch, I still only wear the band the watch came with (proud owner of an  Watch Sport, space gray with black sport band). For "the money" I'm going to go with an additional Milanese loop as I have always liked stainless steel bands AND this is truly the only band that I feel is worth an additional $149 of my money. However, just yesterday (May 30, 2015) while at the Apple store, doing another try on of the ML, the specialist told me they have been instructed not to pair a Milanese loop with an  Watch Sport (which is what I wanted) due to "not yet verified" corrosion issues that may be possible. I've heard don't worry. But when Apple says they aren't sure... well that does bring my pairing choice idea down a bit. Time will tell.
  • "Where the band loops through is also, by nature of that loop, bulkier than the rest of the band. I've never noticed it in daily wear, though. I have noticed the quilted sections crinkling slightly at times within the loop." This was a deal breaker for me. Not only did the quilted sections crinkle, but every movement of my arm caused the magnets to rattle a bit, like they were too loose inside the leather. Other than this, it was comfortable and fit great. The Milanese didn't have this problem, was comfortable enough and no worries about water/sweat/discoloration.
  • It makes your wrist look chubby because it looks like such a tight fit. Not sure if that's generally the fit being snug and all, but looks unusually tight.
    Unless Apple plan to absolutely guarantee that the bands will be compatible with future revisions of the Apple Watch, I really can't ever see purchasing any band besides the Sports band.
    This isn't a Tag or Rolex that is a timeless piece. This is going to be out of date in a year or two, so it seems an absolute over investment spending massive amounts and bands that could potentially be redundant in a year or two. Unless money is no object of course. Sent from the iMore App
  • I got the blue leather loop with my  watch and I've enjoyed it so far. It's smooth on the skin and I love the ease at how it can be adjusted. Best of all, it doesn't scratch the surface of my MacBook while I'm typing. Like Rene, I don't shower or work out with it. Anytime I know water or heavy sweat will be involved I take it off. I do plan on ordering a sport band or a third party band soon. I'm just procrastinating while more come to market. Sent from the iMore App
  • I bought the Blue Leather Loop band for my SG WATCH SPORT but after only a couple of days decided I didn't like it. The silver hole for the band is distracting. It doesn't necessarily adjust the fit better than the original rubber black band. And it just isn't worth $150 to me. Returned it for refund. Taught me I love the black rubber band better than before I tried the Blue Leather Loop.
  • Great review Rene. Thanks! Just got my leather loop today (switching from a sport band) and the first thing I noticed was how much closer to my skin the watch feels now than with the loop. Definitely a comfortable fit. Not sure I'd swap back.
  • So I've owned the black leather loop for three weeks now. The creaking noise that some speak of goes away, it's the leather breaking in tight against each side if the straps from the magnets holding it together tight. I don't have that noise any more, but I honestly don't think it has anything to do with loose magnets. At least not in my opinion. I originally ordered the watch with the melanise loop, for me the melanise would work a little loose if I bent my wrist to much, with only the one magnet and rubber gasket it wasn't enough to keep the band in the same spot. My goal was to find a band that would be primary for almost everything I do. My wrists are skinny and a little bony, so I took the band and reversed it from in this reviews pictures so the metal loop on the band faces me when I look at the watch. I've noticed because of the loop on the band is wider, and the other side of the wrist had that darn bone and it would rub wrong, so a simple swap of the band to the other side fit much more comfortable for me. In the beginning I also wasn't able to justify the cost of the leather loop band, but then realized almost every little hump in the band except for 9 of them have a magnet. It's definitely not going to work its way loose even when I walk with my cane.
    Those 9 little section that don't have a magnet is were usually the band will loop around back the other way. After a week or two it breaks in and now when I put it on it just goes into that broken in part of the band bend to a perfect fit every time. You can see this bend and wear the fit is on a video I did.
    I did this little video for some friends, but I guess it won't hurt to share it with this site also. Not the best but the first half clearly shows why this band does not loosen up when I wear it. Since I decided to keep it I realize the trade off of not being water resistant because of the leather. But I treat all my leather product, hats, boots, jackets, gloves, wallet and so on. One of my favorite things that worked great on the apple leather case for the phone and my hats is Totes Mink Oil with Lanolin. Not only does it darken the leather a little bit which I think worked good with the black band, but it repeals water great and keeps the leather soft. I've owned a hat that I did three years ago and last winter wearing it in the snow it just melted and ran right off the hat. I'm sure this treatment will also stop the leather from absorbing sweat and maybe getting that smell that another person mentioned. I can't speak to that since this is my first leather band,I'm usually have a steal linked band on my watches but I could not justify the cost of the link band in a 42mm for a first gen. Yes it's a watch, but it's also technology so it will get better unlike some of my 20 year old watches that only need a new battery once in a while. With the treatment the band can't absorb the water or moisture including sweat, then I would think the smell would never happen.
  • Daveid, that's a great comment! Thanks to you and Rene for this. After going back and forth between the Milanese and Leather loops, I bought the 42mm Stainless with black Leather Loop. I recently read that we should be using a leather oil to protect and soften the Leather Loop band. Yet Apple recommends only a damp cloth. I wondered what others think about skipping Apple's recommendations and using leather oil?
  • The Sport band is so nice and comfortable that it would be difficult to make anything else feel as good. I have used the Blue Leather Loop for a couple weeks and LOVE the way it looks, works and feels. It has a high quality fit and finish. I do have to slide the band out of the loop to take it off, but it's fun to slide it in again & use the magnetic clasps. Because it is leather, it makes the watch look much more refined and dressy. It will also show wear and tear like leather, so getting it wet, scuffed, or perspiring on it will likely change it's appearance. For daily use, you can't beat the sport bands.
  • Apple made switching bands easier than switching shoes (which I usually do at the same time). Owning one band is like owning one pair of shoes.
  • I brought a black leather loop recently for my space grey Apple Watch Sport. I personally think it looks much better than the sport strap and complements this watch well - making it look at little classier. My only criticism is the price, but it appears well made and durable, and sometimes you really do "get what you pay for".
  • Not gonna lie. It looks great, but after making a trip to visit family during the hot Midwestern Summer, it inevitably started to smell a bit. That same stench one would get after wearing a cast for a few weeks. Part me of just wants to wash it, but I've been using a damp cloth to clean it. I was pretty good about switching to the sports band when working out, but just being out and about under 85º heat will challenge any sweat gland.
  • Just got back from holiday in Rome, and the leather band stinks something awful (and the temperature in Rome was only in the high 70s). Tried rinsing the band but nothing is getting rid of that vinegary smell. Really wish I'd known about leather oil - can my leather band be recovered? May opt for the Milanese loop as my casual band instead.
  • Hmm awesome add-on for Apple watch. But, Will it work with Apple Watch 2?