Whether you’ve got an original Apple Watch, the new Apple Watch Series 2 or sports-centric Apple Watch Nike+, your smartwatch is primed for a pimping. Aside from some great Apple Watch accessories, there’s nothing that changes a watch’s look quite like a new strap or band.
Sure, you’ve probably got your eye on one or two of Apple’s own Apple Watch straps, but you’ve probably been put off by the prices. Don’t worry though, there’s a mass of third party bands up for grabs. They look the part and are far cheaper than their official counterparts.
Must read: Apple Watch Series 2 review
We’re trying out as many bands as we can to really get a feel for what they’re like to wear, customise and adjust, so look back for more diverse straps every month.
TOMS Artisan Black Diamond
When you think desireble Apple Watch straps, your mind probably doesn’t jump straight to shoemakers. TOMS, however, has put its mastery of canvas to wrist-pimping good use, and the Black Diamond Artisan model is the pick of its bunch.
Crafted from hard-wearing woven fabric, the Artisan band is finished with a supple leather back for a comfortable fit on wrists between 130-180mm. Stainless steel accents and a rounded buckle finish the look. Not only does this strap look slick, it’s also being used to do some good in the world. For every strap sold, TOMS is donating a solar light to a child in a developing country.
Pad & Quill Field Strap
This is the sort of watch strap Bear Grylls would wear, but don’t let that put you off. Pairing water-resistant Cordura fabric with full grain leather accents, its hard-wearing canvas build will stand up to whatever you can throw at it, day after day after day. Pairing substance with style, it looks effortlessly cool too, and is comfortable to wear all day without issue. It’s available exclusively for the 42mm Apple Watch only.
Olixar Elegant Stainless Steel Strap
Apple’s Milanese Loop strap was the headline-grabber on day one and it still looks pretty good 18 months on. The official model is expensive though. Fortunately, this chainlike inspired style doesn’t have to break the bank, with this affordable imitation offering similar smarts at just a fraction of the price.
Compatible with all Apple Watch models, the buckle is easily adjusted to fit any sized wrist with the metal links impressively robust. The fastening clasp can be a little fiddly at first, but you’ll quickly get used to its double latch mechanism.
Baseus Genuine Leather Strap
Like the watch itself, this full grain genuine leather strap is elegantly understated. Simple yet stylish, its thick black leather strap is beautifully supple, quickly conforming to the contours of your wrist. A mass of strap notches ensure a comfortable, secure fit for all wrist sizes. Finished with a big, boxy stainless steel metal buckle finishes off the look that could pass for anywhere between business smart and rock show ready.
£12.99, baseus.com | Amazon
LoveBlue Genuine Leather Loop Bracelet
If you don’t like bulky metal buckles that rub on your desk as you type, you might want to consider this strap. Like Apple’s own Leather Loop offering, LoveBlue’s Genuine Leather Loop ditches traditional fastenings, favouring instead a magnetic clasp. It’s compatible with both the 38mm and 42mm watches, and while the quilted leather is a little stiff at first, it quickly softens up for a snug fit.
£8.88 | Amazon
Elobeth Soft Sports Bracelet
Despite being one of the best looking bands it makes, Apple is refusing to sell the Apple Watch Nike+ sports strap without the watch itself. That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the Nike look and feel on your existing Apple Wearable though. This convincing copy gives the appearance of owning the Nike+ edition, while bringing all the same waterproof, run-loving benefits. Yes, it’s a little thinner and less robust than the official unit, but it still wears nicely and is comfortable to exercise in.
Spigen Rugged Strap
The best Apple Watch straps aren’t just about elegance and finesse. Sometimes you need a strap that’s rough, tough and up for a fight. That’s the Spigen Rugged Strap you’ll be after then. Perfect for those with an outdoors lifestyle, it takes the run-friendly, waterproof ways of Apple’s standard Sports strap and cranks it up to 11. The 42mm strap has a pin and tuck buckle that offers a secure fit and a knock-resistant finish. It’s pretty big and bulky, but whether you’re walking up a mountain or throwing yourself off one, it’s tough enough to keep your watch safe.
$39.99, spigen.co.uk | Amazon
Casetify Looney Tunes Party All Over
Your Apple Watch doesn’t have to be a stuffy, serious affair. If you’re the sort who’s still rocking the Micky or Minnie Mouse watch faces, chances are you’re after something a little more fun on the strap front than just another carbon-copy leather option. If you really want to wear your cartoon-loving ways with pride, you need Casetify’s, Bugs, Daffy and Taz-rocking Party All Over Looney Tunes band.
Available for both the 38mm and 42mm watches, the bright, vibrant strap is made from durable polycarbonate. Offering a surprisingly soft, comfortable fit, the sweat resistant band is finished with a cool, matte black stainless steel buck and lugs.
Olixar Classic Buckle Watch Band
Forget the stuffy, serious brown and black bands, you can have an Apple Watch strap with serious pop while still enjoying the comfortable fit and better with age looks of a leather band. Fitting both 38mm and 42mm watches, this affordable option offers a lot for a little. The rounded, metal, classic buckle gives the strap a clean, high-end feel, with the vivid red tanned leather offering something a little different to your other, understated straps.
$39.99 | Amazon
Chicago Genuine Leather Strap
There are plenty of nice leather Apple Watch straps out there. For the money though, this is one of our favourites. The soft, Horween leather looks effortlessly chic whatever you wear it with, and only gets better with a few scuffs and creases it will inevitably get with wear. The suede underside gives this watch one of the most comfortable fits going, while the chunky metal buckle adds to its eye-catching design.
Pugo Top Woven Nylon Strap
Woven nylon is the new leather, and this nylon strap is one of the nicest we’ve had around our wrist. Perfect for those who like the look of Apple’s official Woven Nylon straps, this model fits wrist between 145-215mm. With a nylon weave wrapped around a foam core for improved comfort, the only discernible difference between this and the Apple option is that the Pugo has traded in a metal buckle for a plastic option. It still looks great though.
$39.99 | Amazon
Southern Straps NATO strap
This woven, double layered nylon NATO number looks the business for 42mm and 38mm Apple Watches, and comes in a range of style and colour options. The adapter (available in stainless steel, grey and gold) is also stronger than we’ve seen on rival straps, which is all the better given the competitive price.
Burkley Watch padded leather
You can smell the leather on this delightful band, which benefits from stitching detail down the edges of the strap. The Burkley strap fits wrists measuring 145-215mm and has a classic stainless steel buckle. It takes a while for the leather to soften up, but it’s a comfortable and classy looking band that injects a dose of style to your smartwatch.
$59.90, burkleycase.com | Amazon
LuxWoods Apple Watch Band
For those looking for something different, it doesn’t come much more unique than LuxWoods’ range of straps. A classic link bracelet made from black ebony wood, it feels delightful, with each link smoothed and polished. What’s more, it’s light and comes with a high quality buckle. Word of warning, however, the adjustment is really tough and it’s easy to damage the band.
Casetify Classic Lady
It’s hard to ignore this muted and classy Casetify strap, which puts a more feminine spin on the classic red, white and blue. Made from a refined plastic, it’s durable and offers a genuine dose of class welcome among the legions of metal chainmail and leather that dominate the third party strap market. There’s also a red, white and blue Classic 1970s men’s version, too.
$70 | casetify.com
Pad and Quill Padded strap
The Field strap uses delightful two tone effect, blending leather and cordura together for an interesting ensemble. The leather is such good quality it’s a shame that it’s wasted on the inside, but that effect isn’t lost on your skin, and it’s super comfy to wear all day. Designed for 42mm Apple Watch Series 1 & Series 2 for 130-210mm wrists, there are two colours with grey/black and brown/black options available.
$99.95, padandquill.com | Etsy
BlackForestAtelier Handmade Vintage
To Etsy then, where BlackForestAtelier is making some of the best-looking Apple Watch straps we’ve laid our eyes on thus far. These hand-made bands can be produced to be compatible with every type and size of Apple.
You get a choice of colours, leather and designs when you place your order — you also get a special screwdriver and lugs adapter to make switching straps straightforward. Based on the reviews from previous customers, these are well worth the money.
$89.90 | Etsy
Pad&Quill 60 Year Luxury Lowry Cuff
A bold statement of a watch strap, the Pad&Quill leather cuff is for those who like a bit of chunk on their arm. Reminiscent of Fossil watch straps, the supple leather is top quality, which is certainly echoed with the price tag.
IVSO Leather Watch Strap
If you’re looking for a comfortable real leather watch strap, but have cleared out your savings after purchasing an Apple Watch, IVSO’s great value leather strap might be worth a punt. Available in red, brown or black, this classic leather strap has a stainless steel buckle and attaches using the more conventional steel needle mount; available in variants to suit either the 38mm or 42mm Apple Watch.
$12.50 | Amazon
JETech Leather Loop Strap
For those who like the feel of leather but are on the hunt for something a little different, the Leather Loop strap from JETech might just fit the bill. This unique leather strap eschews a buckle in favour of an adjustable magnetic clasp to hold the strap at your desired size, and you can choose from either black or blue colours. It is only available for the 42mm variant of the Apple Watch at present, but promises comfort and style for those with the larger of the two models.
$12.99 | Amazon
Choicecuts Horween leather strap
This Choicecuts strap uses Horween Coffee Bean Dublin leather with minimal stitching for a cleaner look. The Horween is far darker than normal leather straps, and comes with the clasps and connectors required for an instant fit. The strap is available in small (110 x 70mm), medium (120 x 80mm) and large (135 x 85mm) sizes.
Lucrin offer a variety of sizes and colours in their leather band range, so you can pick one to suit your sartorial style and your 38mm or 42mm Apple Watch casing. Your first choice is between a Classic or a more refined Elegance design, then there’s a choice of leathers — smooth, granulated, goat, real ostrich — and then you can go about picking from one of the 30 different colour options. They’re not cheap but they look the part.
$167.99 | lucrin.com
Oittm Stainless Steel Metal
If you fancy a nice stainless steel strap for your Apple Watch but can’t afford the asking price of the official link bracelet, try these cheaper alternatives for Oittm. We can’t vouch personally for how good they are but there are hundreds of reviews online attesting to their quality. The straps come with a folding clasp and there’s a choice of colours for both the 38mm and the 42mm models — you can even get a gold finish if you want.
$22.99 | Amazon
Gorillatronics silicone strap
Silicone bands are great for sporty types, but Apple’s are a little too expensive to have different colour options for different outfits. Gorillatronics’ straps come in a range of hues and at $13 a pop you can grab a bunch for the same price as a single official band.
$13 | Amazon