Buying the best Apple Watch strap is the perfect way to pimp your smartwatch.
Whether you've been rocking a so-called iWatch for a while now, or you've gotten the Watch Series 3, or maybe you're looking to fill the stocking of an Apple Watch lover, Apple's smartwatch is primed for styling.
Read this: Apple Watch tips and tricks
If you've been put off by the prices of Apple's official bands, don't fear. There's a mass of third party bands up for grabs, and they can look the part while still being far cheaper than their official counterparts.
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 keep coming for more diverse straps.
Clockwork Synergy Classic Nato
If you'd really like Apple's nylon bands but want something at about half the price, the Clockwork Synergy Classic Nato collection is for you. Not only are there 49 different colour variations, these are light and durable straps, plus they just look darn good. They feature more traditional nylon designs than Apple's crop too.
Meridio comes about as close any any third-party watch strap brand to replicating Apple's own premium feel. We've tested out the company's standard leather options, from its Nappa collection, as well as its more vintage bands. They're durable, have the same thin-leather style as Apple's collections and you even have the option to engrave your initials on.
If that's not enough for you, and you're okay with paying a little more, the Italian band-maker also fashions straps from pythons, crocodiles and even ostriches. Enough? Oh wait, there's also a few made from cat-sharks. Wild.
From $78.99, meridioband.com
Monowear Nylon Active
You want a nice nylon strap, but you'd prefer it of the loop variety, like Apple's new Sport Loop strap. However, you also don't want to shell out for it. That's when you'll turn to Monowear's Nylon Active, a nylon loop strap. There's a genuine leather strap on the back and stainless steel lugs, making this a good match for either the aluminum or stainless steel Apple Watch variations.
Survival Strap paracord band
If you're looking for the ultimate Apple Watch band, one that'll stay on your wrist when you're on your most extreme adventures, then you have to look at Survival Strap's paracord band. They're tactical straps made out of authentic military paracord. You can also customize it to your heart's content, over 40 different color combinations.
If you'd like a nice leather strap for less than Apple's prices, the Strapple Crocodilus is your best bet. It's not actually crocodile leather, with Strapple instead using a fine Italian calfskin leather and embossed alligator pattern. Pair with a nice space black Apple Watch and you have something that screams luxury.
Colebrook light tan leather band
Top quality Horween leather is the order of the day on the Colebrook range, which also includes darker options – but we love this tan number. The "racing" strap is punched with holes to add extra detail, and you can choose between black and silver connectors and buckles. This is a much cheaper alternative to the Hermès Single Tour Rallye.
$95 | Etsy
Southern Straps NATO military green
Of all the straps we've tried, the military green NATO from Southern Straps is one that's been getting a lot of attention. The gold lugs play nicely against our space grey Apple Watch, although you can opt for a different colour if needed.
Pushing the price bracket up to max is the Da Luca Aereon, with its Swiss ammo leather material and sturdy silver buckle. At 20mm it doesn't dominate the wrist, and trumps its competitors in the leather aroma department.
Coach Leather Strap
If you'd like something to match the rest of your Coach items, you're in luck with the Coach Leather strap. It's right up there in the price bracket, but you're getting a better quality leather strap than Apple's at the same price point. It's got genuine glove tanned leather with heat-creased ends and hand-finished tacking. There's also a bundle of charms to accent the bands. Only available for the 38mm.
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. It's available exclusively for the 42mm Apple Watch.
Coach Camo Strap
Coach's new fall collection introduces a couple of bands with some fancy graphics, like a shark or a penguin sipping from a champagne glass, but the more classic look it's introduced with the Camo Strap. It's a brown leather strap with some subtle camo printed on it, so if you want your wrist-based device to blend into your wardrobe while also being simple you're in look. Bonus: This also works exclusively for the 42mm Apple Watch, unlike the other Coach, with is 38mm only.
Nike+ Sport Band
Finally! You can purchase the Nike+ sports strap without buying a special Nike+ Apple Watch. You too can now enjoy that light, airy strap built especially for exercise. While the regular Sports band is perfectly fine for exercising, the perforated holes on the Nike+ variant make it much more comfortable on your sweaty wrist. If you're a runner, this band is a winner. Plus, Nike's bands are color coordinated to match its shoes so you'll always be in sync.
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.
LuxWoods Apple Watch Band
For those looking for something different, straps don't come much more unique than LuxWoods' range. A classic link bracelet made from black ebony wood, the strap 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.
$52 | casetify.com
Pad & 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.
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.
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 (110/70mm), medium (120/80mm) and large (135/85mm) sizes. However, Choicecuts has temporarily stopped selling the bands, so you might have to wait a while for the straps to return.
Lucrin offers a variety of sizes and colours in its 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 color options. They're not cheap, but they look the part.
$167 | 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.
$29.99 | Amazon
Talk about a blast from the past! Remember those stretch metal watch bands you could wear? Speidel has now modernized its classic band for Apple Watch in both 38mm and 42mm. And best of all, it's a nice and affordable $50. You'll buy it for the nostalgia and charm, but you'll keep it for the comfort and long-lasting craftsmanship.
X-Doria Action Band
Need a sport band but don't want to spring for Apple or Nike's offerings? X-Doria's Action Band is what you want. It's made out of a soft silicone that's perforated a little for extra breathability. Those perforations also double as slots to fasten the strap. On top of all that, it also manages a fairly interesting two-tone design - like something from the game Halo.
Southern Straps Brown Leather
Handcrafted in San Francisco, Southern Straps' Brown Leather Apple Watch band uses a vegetable tanned full-grain Italian leather. And boy, does it feel good to wear. If you're looking for something to complement a suit, this band is for you.
We tested it during a wedding and found it drew a considerable amount of attention, with people asking whether it was a new band from Apple. It comes with either gold, black or silver lugs.
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