December 1, 2023

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They Drink Fashion

Best Apple Watch bands and straps: For all styles and budgets

10 min read

The Apple Watch Series 7 continues Apple’s streak as the maker of one of the most versatile wearables on the market today, with both the flexibility of features and applications. In a market where aesthetics rule, the ability to swap bands with a diversity of designs and materials brings the Apple Watch firmly into fashion territory. While Apple provides a number of quality bands, the third-party world of Apple Watch bands stretches from budget bands to French fashion houses.

We picked a variety of bands and straps with different styles and prices to add some pizzazz to the Apple Watch on your wrist. Regardless of which generation of Apple Watch you own, these bands will fit your device because Apple made the band-to-watch connection backward-compatible. If you’re looking to upgrade to a new Apple Watch, you may find your old bands still work with the newer model.

For more Apple Watch information, check our curated list of the best Apple Watch screen protectors.

Our favorite official Apple Straps

Let’s start with the multitude of watch bands Apple markets for its own watch. This small sampling reveals the depth and variety of Apple’s watch accessories.

Apple Braided Solo Loop

The Apple Watch with the Apple Braided Solo Loop band in blue.

Apple always seems to find a way to bring the stylish and the practical together. With the Apple Braided Solo Loop, you’ll be wearing a durable watchband made from stretchable recycled yarn, interwoven with silicone threads. What this translates into is an incredibly comfortable but durable band that fits comfortably without moving around your wrist. The Braided Solo Loop bands are compatible with Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 4 or newer, just make sure you measure your wrist correctly to get the right band. As the Solo bands have no buckle or any other way to reduce in size, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the right fit.

Apple Sport Loop

The Apple Sport Loop band in Tornado/Gray.

We love the look and feel of the Apple Sport Loop band. The nylon material is soft, doesn’t get hot and sweaty, and the various colors are all a lot more dramatic and eye-catching in real life than in pictures. Rather than the pin-and-tuck system on the Sport band, the Sport Loop uses hook-and-eye for an infinitely adjustable fit that suits everyone. Great for the gym, office, and casual wear, it’s the Apple Watch band to choose when you first buy your watch.

Apple Midnight Modern Buckle

The Midnight Modern Buckle strap on an Apple Watch.

This is a very expensive band, but that’s for a very good reason. The Midnight Modern Buckle is made from supple and high-quality Granada leather that’s lightly milled and tumbled to create a material that’s soft on the skin but still durable. Apple has added a weave of Vectran for additional strength (so it should outlast your Apple Watch), the same material used by NASA to make landing airbags for the Mars rover. The buckle isn’t actually a buckle either, it’s a magnetically fastened two-piece design that’s easy to secure. A classic style with a futuristic design — the Midnight Modern Buckle lives up to its name.

Apple Milanese Loop

Apple Milanese Loop in gold.

If metal is more your style, Apple has you covered. The company’s stunning Milanese Loop, a modern interpretation of a design developed in Milan at the end of the 19th century, touts a stainless-steel gold, silver, or graphite design, wraps around your wrist, and adjusts with the help of magnets. Apple’s Link Bracelet, meanwhile, features butterfly closure folds within the bracelet, allowing for a clean look. The onboard release button also makes it easy to add or remove links without special tools.

The Apple Watch Studio

Apple Sport Band strap.
Andy Boxall/

The Apple Watch Studio is a buying plan introduced with the Series 5 Apple Watch, and it’s a great way to get the exact band and watch combination you want the first time. Instead of buying an off-the-shelf Apple Watch and strap combination, you choose each aspect yourself, including the case size and material and the strap. If you want a 44mm aluminum Apple Watch in silver with a Space Gray Milanese Loop strap, you can have it. It doesn’t cost any extra money to customize, and it’s easy and fun to create your own watch on Apple’s website.

Apple Watch Studio

Our favorite third-party bands

Despite the many gorgeous and specialty watch straps Apple offers for its watch, the company knows its customers and that their tastes are not confined to the company store. So Apple encouraged third-party vendors to get in on the action. Here are some favorites from independent vendors.

Nomad Modern Strap

There are a few Nomad straps on this list, and for good reason. They’re exceptionally high-quality and stylish. The Modern is a slimmer variant of its Modern Strap. This vegetable-tanned leather strap comes from Horween, a reputable tannery in Chicago, and it develops a gorgeous patina the longer it’s worn. Nomad uses stainless steel on the buckles and the adapter that connects to the Apple Watch. It’s delightfully lightweight and comfortable on the wrist, and the buckle design means it’s dead simple to put on in a jiffy. The catch? It’s only available for the smaller 40mm or 38mm Apple Watch sizes.

Kades Stainless Steel Band

The Kades Stainless Steel Band.

The Kades Apple Watch band offers an affordable way to sport a stainless-steel band. Like most stainless-steel watchbands, it features a double clasp in a butterfly style and is easily adjustable via removable links. It comes in both silver-colored stainless steel and black.

Meridio Suede Band

Tired of the usual old leather bands and silicone straps for your Apple Watch? Take a look at Meridio’s suede watch bands, which are different than other bands out there yet still neatly fit in with casual and smart outfits. Meridio is an Italian brand with more than a decade of experience in fashion and leather goods. The suede band is soft to the touch, supple, and comfortable to wear. There is enough of a nap on the strap for it to catch the light, while the thickness tapers off toward the tip, making it more wearable.

Casetify Cats

Casetify's Cats band for the Apple Watch.

Leather, metal, and braids are great, but what if you want something with a bit more personality? Casetify has a massive range of Apple Watch bands that deliver just that, and our current pick of the bunch is this Cats band. It’s made from vegan “Saffiano” leather, so it feels great on the skin, and is fully biodegradable too, so you don’t have to worry about your cruelty-free lifestyle polluting the planet after you’re gone. The design looks great too, with a bunch of cute cats adorning the band. Best paired with a matching colored Apple Watch casing, this might not be the choice for those who favor austere over audacious, but it’s sure to be someone’s favorite pick here. Not into cats? Check out the to see if they have one for you.

Nomad Sport Band

Nomad Sport Band.

To accompany its Rugged Strap, Nomad offers the Sport Strap, a silicone band with built-in lugs that extend all the way across the watch’s body, a strong stud-and-hole fixing, and a design similar to that of Nike’s Apple Watch straps. Nomad’s offering is made of soft LSR silicone, which comes in a two-tone color scheme — either black and gray or black and green. It is hypoallergenic and sweat-resistant, and it feels cool underneath thanks to a channel for airflow. It’s well-suited for fitness aficionados and is quite a large, statement-making strap. It’s only available for the 42mm/44mm watch sizes.

Burkley Holo Strap

Burkley’s Holo Strap is perfect for weekends in your sports car with the top down, headed toward the coast — or, at the very least, those times when you’re imagining doing that. The strap’s classic styling makes it a beauty, while the soft, padded leather renders it both lightweight and comfortable. We love the little design touches, too, such as the Burkley logo, which is stamped directly on the strap loop. It comes in several color options.

Southern Straps Nato Strap

A textured nylon strap, the Southern Straps band features stitching running down each section, giving it a unique look. It feels very hard-wearing and has been double-bonded and heat-sealed to make sure it doesn’t fall apart under tough conditions. We love the khaki and red version, which comes with a choice of colors for the Apple Watch connectors in either 38mm/42mm or 42mm/44mm sizes. We were let down slightly by the strap loop, which sometimes pinches wearers who have wrist hair.

Nyloon Napier Watch Band

Nyloon’s nylon watchband feels like it will last a while and withstand some rough treatment, which is just what you need from this popular style. We’ve been wearing the Napier design, which comes in navy blue and red, and we find it comfortable and stylish. The shiny hardware is attractive, and the Apple Watch adapter pieces have spring-loaded bars, so you can swap out the strap for another 20mm or 22m version of your own choice.

Ullu Apple Watch Band

Ullu Apple Watch Strap.

This beautiful leather Apple Watch band is handcrafted from high-quality stingray leather. Available in an assortment of colors, the Ullu stingray watch band pairs perfectly with the larger 42mm Apple Watch case.

The Strap Smith Baseball Glove Strap

The Strap Smith Baseball Glove Strap next to a baseball and red thread.

Handcrafted from vintage baseball gloves, this band is perfect for the sports enthusiast. This band is not only stylish but durable as well. If you’re more of a football fan, the Strap Smith also makes a custom football band. Just be aware you have to pay an extra $25 if you want the necessary hardware fitted to attach the strap to the watch. Bonus: you can choose the color to match your choice of watch case.

Pad & Quill Lowry Leather Cuff

A person wearing the Pad & Quill Lowry Leather Cuff.

Renowned for its high-quality, great-looking leather Apple accessories, Pad & Quill makes three different straps for the Apple Watch, but we’ve singled out the Lowry Leather Cuff. Made from full-grain leather in black, chestnut, or tan, with hand-finished stitching and nickel buckles, the look is rugged yet classy. Suede on the underside of the strap makes it comfortable to wear. The one problem? It’s only for the 42mm/44mm Apple Watch.

Form Function Form Button Stud Band

The Form Function Form Button Stud Band.

If you’re angling for something a bit different, have a look at Form Function Form’s funky Button Stud strap, which does away with any type of buckle or clasp. Instead, it has a stainless steel stud that holds a long leather band in place. You can order the stud and adaptor in a color that suits your Apple Watch, including options like Veg Tan, Ultra-Thin Horse Front, Horween Chromexcel, and Latigo. Just make sure you check the length to ensure the overall fit is correct. The company even provides lifetime free size adjustments if you buy one.

Frequently asked questions

How will I know whether an Apple Watch band will fit my wrist?

Imagine, if you will: you’ve finally found the perfect Apple Watch band, ordered it, and now it’s here. Only — disaster! It’s too small for your wrist. How can you avoid that? Well, if you’re not able to head out to a physical store to take a look at your chosen Apple Watch bands, then the only way to really know for sure is to measure your wrist. Thankfully, we have a comprehensive guide on how to measure your wrist for an Apple Watch, and how to measure your wrist for Solo Loop Apple Watch bands too.

What are the best Apple Watch bands for sensitive skin?

The last thing you want is for your Apple Watch band to trigger any skin sensitivity issues you might have. While sensitivity issues with Apple Watch bands are most often related to sweating, friction, or nickel allergies, there can be such a wide range of other triggers that we can’t cover them all in great detail. However, there are some band material choices you can make which should hopefully reduce the chances of skin sensitivity triggers.

Leather is often a strong choice, because it looks good, feels great, and more often than not, is suitable for those with sensitive skin. Since it’s a natural material, it’s less likely to trigger any issues, and while it may not be vegan friendly, it’s a good choice if you want a good-looking band that’s kind to your skin. Metal bands are another good choice for the same reasons — just make sure to pick a stainless steel or titanium band to avoid any pesky nickel issues.

Finally, there are synthetic options. Sports bands are a good pick for those who sweat a lot, for obvious reasons. But if you’re not into the sporty look, maybe take a look at other bands made from silicone, as there are some high-quality silicone offerings that don’t look as if they’re designed only for Olympians.

How often should you change out your Apple Watch band?

As often as you like! There’s no hard and fast rule as to how often you should change out your band, the only real limitation is how often you want to go through the process of changing it. We have a guide on how to change your Apple Watch band, and it’s relatively straightforward, so you could feasibly change out your band every day. A more realistic option may be to have a classier strap for classy affairs and an everyday band for everything else, but it’s really up to you.

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