What we want to see from new Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch Hermés band
Apple Watch Hermés band (Image credit: iMore)

While we may not be getting new Apple Watch hardware until the end of the year, speculation is we will get some new Watch bands this spring. That happened last September, when we got not only gold and rose gold sport finishes, but new sport bands, new leather looks, and Apple Watch Hermes. So what might this March bring?

Apple Watch Sport bands

Ren: More colors, alternative materials, and a clasp that doesn't stick to my skin. I have a ridiculous number of Sport bands, and while I like them, the fleuroelastic material is just sweat-resistant enough that it makes them really itchy to wear long-term. And while I doubt they'll redesign the hidden band tail, part of me wishes they would: As a small-wristed watch-wearer, I end up having to stuff half of the Sm/Med band under the other band, which can be a huge pain if your skin is already sweating or wet in any way.

Georgia: I think the Apple Watch sports bands are already well formed and I like the existing variety of colors. Perhaps Apple could do something more trendy — Burberry-style plaid, Angela? — but otherwise I'm happy.

Lory: I am actually disappointed with the material that the sport band is made from. It makes my wrist sweat too much when I'm exercising. I'd love to see a sport band made from something more breathable; some kind of web material like the kind that military belts are made from.

Daniel: Sport band choices for the Apple Watch already run the gamut; there is a colour for almost everyone, and the bands themselves are cheap enough to justify buying a couple.

I'm interested in seeing Apple design a hybrid sport band that can be considered somewhat dressed up — more along the lines of the leather loop, sans cow.

Rene: I'm happy with the current colors of the Apple Watch sport band. While stripes and polka dots and other designs might be fun for some, they wouldn't high on my list. Instead, I'm wondering if Marc Newson could come up with a new sporty design.

We don't need it, of course, but I'm curious to see what else he can come up with. Maybe something without a buckle at all? Of course, that might need to wait for Apple Watch 2...

Apple Watch (steel) bands

Georgia: The Apple Watch bands should be available in all sizes for all styles. Like Rene, I would love to have the Milanese Loop in black. I would also really appreciate more bands that are delicate and able to be worn with a fancy dress.

Lory: I've always been a fan of bangle style watches. I'd love to see a line of stainless steel bangles that compliment the watch face while still looking like a nice piece of jewelry. I'd also like to see more options for the black stainless steel case.

Ren: Georgia and Lory have the right idea — dressy bands! It'd be really fun to see how Marc Newson can stretch the idea of "watch band" into "dressy wrist wear"; I saw a cheap Android display built into a bangle bracelet, and now I'm kind of obsessed with the idea.

I also want more Modern Buckle colors and sizes, because that band is oh-so-comfortable.

Daniel: I've fallen in love with the Saddle Brown Classic Buckle band that was unveiled back in September. Like the black equivalent released alongside the Apple Watch, it's low-profile and incredibly hardy. I'd love to see a couple more colors, such as the same blue stain on the Leather Loop, or a deep red, that would look a bit more casual.

Rene: I'm with Georgia. Highest on my list in getting all the Apple Watch straps in both 38mm and 42mm sizes. Tiny wrists deserve the Leather Loop too! Since I own a space black, though, I'll buy a space black the moment it's announced. Rumor has it some prototypes have been spotted on some wrists going back a year now, so if the DLC has been sorted, my order is pending.

Apple Watch designer bands

Ren: The concept of the designer Apple Watch line is fascinating to me, and I think it's the right tack to take on the watch market. But I really, really wish they'd have a band-only option. For those of us who already have a casing, buying a whole new watch just to get that Hermes Double Tour feels wasteful and ridiculous. But I also don't particularly want to support the Chinese knockoffs lurking around Amazon. Give me a middle ground, Apple, and I'll gladly pay for a high-end watch band. Just don't make me buy a new watch, too.

Georgia: I am not really into designer bands as I'm guessing they'd continue to be high-priced and only affordable towards the more premium end of the market. That being said, if there was a Swarovski band I — take my money!

Lory: I think it would be fun to have pop culture-themed designer watch bands, like Disney characters, or Star Wars themes. Of course, I'd pick those two, but my point is that I would love to show off my obsessions with a watch band that matches.

Daniel: I appreciated how measured Apple is being with its brand partnerships, and I wouldn't be surprised to see just one more unveiled at the March event. It would be great to see Apple separate the designer from the Watch itself, so a Rolex- or Tudor-branded offering would be accessible to everyone.

Rene: I love Apple Watch Hermes and already own a cuff. It's brown, the only color it was available in. I might love it enough to buy a new style or color if one is made available. If it sticks to being a whole-watch purchase, and no provision is made for current Hermes owners, I'll be super sad. So here's to some separates.

As to other designers, I'm not sure. If readers have ideas, please let me know!

One more… bands?

The Home screen on Apple Watch

The Home screen on Apple Watch (Image credit: iMore)

Ren: I'm crossing my fingers for the rumored NATO strap. I'm also hoping, in general, for increasing sizing ranges across the band lines. Apple did an amazing job with the dual casing options for sizing wrists appropriately, but there's still a lot of work to be done on the band front. Plus-sized wrists won't fit into pretty much any band except the Link Bracelet, and only when it's supplied with extra links. And there are ladies and men alike who would love to own a 38mm-only band like the Modern Buckle for 42mm, or for larger wrists.

Georgia: I would like to have a battery band for my Apple Watch for those times when I am camping, traveling, or otherwise away from my charger for extended periods. Just please, no hump!

Lory: Waterproofing my Apple Watch would make me very happy, even though it might make the whole thing look a little chunky on my wrist. when I go camping and hiking I leave my Apple Watch behind for fear of ruining it. I want a fully enclosed case that will protect it from dust, water, and melted marshmallows.

Daniel: I'm a big fan of nylon bands, and already own a third-party version from Monowear Design. Nylon or canvas is super hardy and water repellent and, depending on the color, fits with most styles, both dressed-up or casual.

Rene: There are rumors of a NATO strap, which would be cool. Like with the Sport bands, though, I'm most curious to see what Ive and Newson can come up with next. If that takes until the fall, so be it!

What would you like to see from new Apple Watch bands this March?

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.

  • I've seen plenty of mention of tiny wrists here, when speaking about "all sizes" but there are some yeti wrists out there too. I'd like to see the XL sports bands which are currently only available in black or white, made available in all sport band colours. Let's face it, the elastomer isn't very expensive. The baseline bands should have been available for all customers from day one. I'd also like to see a leather loop in Product (red) and trademark Apple white. I can't imagine it would stain any more than the sand coloured one does. The Apple watch itself is androgynous, and so are most of the band choices. Where they're less androgynous, they tend to err toward the feminine, which actually I think is fantastic because at the time it was the only smart watch which even remotely appealed to women. However, a year into it, I'd like to see some more masculine designs. Perhaps a link bracelet which is somewhat chunkier and more faceted. The existing link is beautiful in a sleek way, but I'd like to see a more aggressive link style, taking cues from the Tag 'Link' or the Omega HB-SIA GMT. Conversely, I'd also love to see a feminine link option. I find Omega's "Ladymatic" two-tone bracelet quite lovely, though the name could use a lot of work. Going forward, I can't see Apple having enormous success with just the one case shape. The SOC of Watch lends itself very well to being put into many and varied case styles. I would like to see Apple either poach some very serious watch design talent, or consider licensing the sensor package, SOC and battery to suitably enthusiastic Swiss names... if they're willing to play ball. Ive, Newson and co have a particular industrial design aesthetic which applies beautifully to functional products, but fails to capture personality. The Apple watch brands its wearer with Apple's aesthetic, but "the most personal device ever created" needs to conform to the wearer's aesthetic instead, and that requires a breadth of choice not just in bands, but in cases.
  • I honestly don't really care what Apple does with their bands, I have aftermarket screwless adapters for my apple watch so that opens up any 24mm band on the market many of which are much cheaper than what Apple offers. I already have 2 nato style straps I picked up on ebay for $15 a piece that I love, one in black and one in grey. I do agree with the statement about plus size wrists though. The m/l sport band that came with my watch was rather snug on my wrist and not always comfortable.
  • I love the Sport Band and it's perfect for me.... I got originally the Green one with my Apple watch and loved it. Last year, the additional new colours were great... Wanted to buy the navy blue but got the Red one and it's really my favorite so far! I use it all the time and not bother at all with the sweat! I find it perfect for my gym/crossfit sessions. As for new bands, I'm just curious to see... and be surprised. But would be nice new color and a cheaper price :)
  • I have a black and a navy blue sport band that I use 90% of the time. The classic black buckle that came with it I rarely use. I just like the sport bands that much.
  • Can you truly have a NATO band and it not cover the sensor on the back? Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • No. I think if Apple does make one, it'll be a pretend NATO-style band, in two pieces, like the 3rd party ones. If this rumour is true, I'll be disappointed, because it doesn't take Apple's manufacturing prowess, and attention to detail, to create a strap made of cheap nylon webbing, with some loop hardware on it.
  • Does a NATO band have to truly be one piece? I can see Apple definitely making a two piece NATO band that uses the lugs. Or easily make a single piece that has a hole for the sensor. Isn't that what the Hermes cuff band does? I've seen plenty of third party cuff bands that have a hole for the sensor.
  • I would love to see what Apple can do with the NATO style strap. A quick peek at 3rd party straps leaves something to be desired (less loops). I would also like to see the price of the sport bands reduced. $50 seems silly for what they are. Even at $30 or $40 price points, it seems much more in the realm of impulse-buy. I have two, but have a hard time justifying additional bands at $50 a pop.
  • Fully support Daniel's call for more color options for the classic buckle. They could also offer a bit more variety in leather styles (textures, leather ageing nicely vs more formal designs etc.). Nothing plastic will ever be purchased by me. so a gazillion more sports bands are not really interesting. In the same vein, the Leather Loop could use some friendlier, less subdued colors. Love the link bracelet (in steel), and no idea how it could be any better – it is the best watch band I've experienced in my life (and I had and still have a lot more expensive watches over the last 40 years). And "Yes" to Hermes bands without a Watch attached. They have the best leather products I know of, but I am not going to buy multiple identical Apple Watches.
  • I definitely want to see Apple make NATO bands. I'd buy one immediately. They're casual, but SO comfy. I'd love to see a double gray striped one like the latest Omega James Bond watch in Spectre. Other colors would be nice too (black, navy blue, etc). I had a NATO band on my Pebble watch when those first came out and to this day remains the most comfortable band I've ever worn.
  • i think the bands are pretty good but the watch itself needs a bit more speed. sometimes my watch loading a bit to long and in the mean time i can take my phone out of the pocket
  • What they really need to do is stabilize the 3rd party band market. It's like the Wild West out there. A true "Made for Apple Watch" program. I read too many Amazon reviews of people claiming that their Watch smashed to the ground because the 3rd party band used a crappy lug. Just like how there is a massive wall of cases at the Apple Store, there should be a huge selection of 3rd party bands.
  • I agree w/ having all bands in all sizes and w/ having á la carte Hérmes bands; I find it sad that if I want some of the bands I need to get a knockoff (I'm a 42mm Watch wearer). I'd love to see translucent Sports bands, maybe even some that look like they have a bubble effect in them. I'm going to take my want for the Milanese Loop one step further than just a Black-colored one, not only do I want there to be a Black one but also Gold, Rose Gold, and maybe eve colors like Blue or Red (I don't know how viable that is, but it's a neat idea, right?). Other than that, I want to be surprised on what else Apple can come with.
  • I want to see all bands available for xl wrists (220 mm) like mine. Currently my only options are black and white sport bands and the steel, link bracelets with the extra links. Would love to add some color sport bands and a nice brown and black leather band to my collection.
  • As a fellow-yeti-wristed watch owner, I can tell you the large leather loop will fit your wrist. It's generously sized. I find it fits better if you reverse the mounting positions for the long and short end. You may want to try one in store. The milanese loop will also fit, but you'll have to push the loop over your hand, which will be tight but doable. I don't like the milanese though, as it tends to catch arm hair. My wrists are about your size. I wear my watch on the middle hole of the XL sport band, just to give you an idea of where we are in relation to each other. There's easily another 30mm of usable length on the leather loop I have. The size chart is quite conservative for the leather loop.
  • What is NATO strip do you want to stop your watches being invaded?
  • #1: make them cheaper Sent from the iMore App