There's nothing that changes any watch's look like a new strap or band, and even the Apple Watch can be given a dramatic makeover with a little customisation.
Like most Apple Watch owners you've probably coveted the official straps, and most likely balked at the price. But there are tonnes of third party bands for sale now, and the good news is they're far cheaper than the official ones.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Penom Mesh Milanese Loop
The official Apple Milanese Loop strap caught our attention like no other and has done the most to portray the Watch as a stylish accessory, rather than a gadget. Well, this unofficial alternative is available at Amazon for just $28 – which we'd consider an absolute steal.
$28.93 | Amazon
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
Spigen Rugged Band
If you would like to replace the silicone band on the standard Apple Watch Sport with something a little more rugged and masculine, Spigen's hybrid polymer replacement strap should definitely be on the list. Suitable for Apple's 42mm watch and retaining the "pin and tuck" buckle system, this is a solid strap for anyone who wants to preserve the sporty look without spending the earth on a strap that might not keep up with their of an athletic lifestyle.
$24.99 | 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 $449 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