Apple's Modern Buckle is the best small band for the Apple Watch

In the ten months since the Apple Watch's debut, band availability and styling has skyrocketed. There are official Apple Sport bands for practically every color on the color wheel — and unofficial Amazon-sold bands for the colors Apple lacks. Third-party manufacturers have put together beautiful leather options and Swatch Watch-style delights.

But, ten months in, there's still no band I love more than Apple's Modern Buckle.

Fit and finish

Designed specifically for the 38mm Apple Watch casing, the Modern Buckle bases its entire identity off designing for smaller wrists. I've worn various watches on and off for 20+ years; there's no leather band I've ever worn that's slimmer or lighter on the wrist.

The Granada top-grain leather feels simultaneously delicate and sturdy: It's barely a milimeter thick and silky smooth to the touch. The inner Vectran weave layer — the same stuff, Apple brags, that NASA used for the Mars Rover's landing airbags — gives the band a flexibility and hardiness I've never seen in other leather straps this thin.

In a first for me and leather, I find the Modern Buckle just as comfortable (if not more so) as the Sport band. The Buckle's clasp means you'll wear it with slightly more space than you would the Sport; this gives it an incredible level of breathability. The band doesn't itch; doesn't sweat. It doesn't even feel off-putting on the wrist. It's just there, effortless in its ability.

To no one's surprise, the band pairs beautifully with the steel Apple Watch, as it was originally designed to do. The polished lugs and buckle match the Watch's casing perfectly, and none of the four band colors look off-putting. The band's thin shape compliments the 38mm size and makes the watch look even smaller on the wrist than it normally does — exactly what you want from a dressy band.

Apple Watch Modern Buckle (Image credit: iMore)

To my great surprise, however, the same is largely true of the Apple Watch Sport. The Modern Buckle looks great with both my silver aluminum sport and gold test model, even with the lug mis-match. Most friends I asked confessed to not spotting the differing lug color until it'd been directly pointed it out; in truth, it's only noticeable when viewed up close, and not even that bothersome when you do notice.

Modern Buckle sizing

Largely due to its 38mm pairing, this is one of Apple's smallest watch band offerings. Each sizing only covers a 15-20mm range with only a 5mm overlap between sizes, making it crucial that you try the band on before ordering it (or know your wrist size extremely well).

I have relatively diminutive wrists, and I selected the Medium (145-165mm) option; my wrists are square in the 155mm range. At the Apple Store, I heard the Small band (135-150mm) jokingly called "the little rich kid's option," because very, very few adult wrists will match that size range. The Large only goes from 160-180mm; as such, if you're a larger-wristed lady or dude who's eyeing the Modern Buckle, you may be out of luck.

Trust in the Buckle

The look of the band alone makes it a top contender for my affections, but it's the Modern Buckle's eponymous clasp that puts it to the top of the list.

Unless you experience rapid changes in your weight, or are prone to lending out your bands, you'll have to adjust the Modern Buckle precisely once. The five adjustment holes are hidden along the inside of the inner clasp, with a single tiny pin; adjust it to the hole sizing you prefer, and you literally will likely never have to touch this again.

That's thanks to the Modern Buckle's upper magnetic clasp: Two steel pins hook into the inner clasp, where they're held tightly with magnets; to release it, you need only squeeze the buttons on either side.

While I enjoy magnetically-attached things, I have a bad habit of wearing them out — largely because I end up fidgeting constantly with the magnet and wear down the associated pins and clasp. But by and large, Apple seems to understand the whole "make a solid magnetic connection" racket: I've owned a Modern Buckle since June, worn it hundreds of times (and fidgeted with it every time), and the clasp has yet to feel like it's losing its grip. I did accidentally trigger the opening mechanism once last July — by leaning my wrist against a table while also resting my head on my arm — but the fall was a short one, and I've yet to repeat that ridiculous action.

Bottom line

$249 is a lot to drop on a watch band — especially when you can have your pick of other bands for that price. But after spending months with this band, it's more than worth its materials cost. The Modern Buckle looks flawless despite being worn with fancy attire and at roller derby practices alike. It feels great on the wrist and doesn't sweat. And its comfortable magnetic clasp makes it one of the simplest and nicest Apple Watch bands to wear on a daily basis. If you have larger wrists or don't rock the 38mm casing, the Modern Buckle won't be the band for you. But for any smaller-wristed Apple Watch wearers who like quality and comfort, this is my top-of-the-line pick.

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Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.