While the Apple Watch is always ready to track your back-breaking hikes, aimless work meetings and nightly shut-eye, finding the right band to match the occasion can be tricky.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to styling the smartwatch, and you can quickly accumulate a collection of straps. The only information you really need to have to hand is the colour and size of the Apple Watch model you’re buying for, since bands vary to fit 38mm/40mm and 40mm/44mm devices.
Not all bands are created equally; some are garish to look at and plenty more are simply uncomfortable to wear for long stretches. We’ve spent time with some of the most popular straps to help filter out the dross and allow you to pick from the best options available.
What are the best Apple Watch bands to buy?
The Apple Leather Loop (£99) is our pick for the best Apple Watch band you can buy right now, providing comfort, style and durability. Apple updates the colours of this handcrafted strap regularly so you won’t get bored.
View the Apple Leather Loop for £99 on Apple
For daily exercisers, though, it’s likely the Apple Watch Sport Band (£49) is a more effective choice. Able to tackle the grime of workouts and available in a seemingly never-ending list of colours, this should be a staple for any Apple smartwatch owner. It’s the best Apple Watch band for sports.
View the Apple Watch Sport Band for £49 on Apple
If you’ve only just let go of your traditional watch and its metal band, or you need something to mask your Apple Watch in board meetings, the Casetify Link Bracelet Band is a stylish option. The best Apple Watch link bracelet, it’s as comfy as a metal strap can be on the wrist and is easily adjustable.
View the Casetify Link Bracelet Band for £70 on Casetify
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Apple Leather Loop
WIRED Recommends: Apple’s Leather Loop is our favourite Apple Watch band right now
Case sizes: 42mm/44mm | Colours: Teal; Yellow; Brown; Black
Apple’s Leather Loop (£99) is the best overall pick for a number of reasons, but the biggest advantage it has over its leathery counterparts is its comfort and durability.
Our biggest gripe with leather bands tends to be their rigidity, which often means they aren’t tight enough around the wrist or mould into an uneven shape. Few, if any, wrap as effortlessly as the Leather Loop, with magnets beneath the quilted leather promising a secure fit that you can adjust precisely as your wrist size fluctuates throughout the day.
Out of all the bands we tested, this is the one that we never wanted to take off — even for exercise, though we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for anything too taxing. Weightlifting, yoga sessions and anything non-sweaty are fine from our experience. Just consider switching this one out for HIIT classes and long-distance outdoor exercise.
The only disappointment is that it’s not available for smaller Apple Watch case sizes – only for the 42mm and 44mm versions. However, there is a medium (150mm – 185mm) and large (180mm – 210mm) strap to choose from.
Pros: Super comfortable; stylish looks; easily adjustable
Cons: Not perfect for exercise; no size for smaller cases
Price: £99 | Check price on Apple | Amazon
Southern Straps Nylon
A budget, lightweight Apple Watch strap
Case sizes: 38mm/40mm/42mm/44mm | Colours: Green; Black; Blue/Black/Orange; Blue/Red; Red/White/Blue; Blue/Green; Blue/White
Southern Straps’ Nylon ($49.95) bands are lightweight and versatile, adept at handling the rigours of a morning workout, sleep tracking and everything in between.
The customisation options at your disposal give California-based Southern Straps the edge over the competition. Not only is there a wide range of tidy colourways to pick from in every size, but you also get the choice to match the buckle to your watch case.
As with leather straps, adjusting nylon bands can often prove difficult, and where many of the bands we’ve worn fall down. With Southern Straps’ bands, the pegged spring bars make this a cinch — and much easier to clean the band.
There’s also five-year warranty to tempt you, but the quality of these bands alone should be worthy of your consideration. You might need to order direct from the US but there’s free world-wide shipping.
Pros: Lightweight on the wrist; stylish options; easily adjustable
Cons: Not completely waterproof
Price: $50 | Check price on Southern Straps | Amazon
Apple Sport Band
The best Apple Watch band for workouts
Cases sizes: 38mm/40mm/42mm/44mm | Colours: Orange; Blue; Pink; Dark Blue; White; Black; Red; Grey; Green; Peach; Beige; Yellow; Dark Green
The Apple Sport Band (£49) may not be the sexiest option on this list, but it is perhaps the most versatile strap you can attach to your watch.
With metal and leather variations not always ideal for runs, swims and whatever else, the rubbery material (fluoroelastomer, if you must know) really comes into its own during proper workouts. Apple also has its woven nylon Sport Loop (£49), which is certainly pretty and arguably slightly comfier, but the Sport Band still edges out its sibling when it comes to exercise thanks to the ease of cleaning.
Apple recommends removing bands, wiping them down with a non-abrasive, lint-free cloth before drying off, and this is much simpler with rubber than fabric. Keep this in mind, since there’s few things worse than the smell of a zillion workouts lodged into your Apple Watch band.
Add this to the frankly ridiculous amount of colours Apple has available every season, and you would be forgiven for owning a different Sport Band for every day of the week.
Pros: Exercise-friendly; durable; easy to clean between workouts
Cons: Nothing much to grumble about
Price: £49 | Check price on Apple | Amazon
Mintapple Milanese Magnetic Strap
A sleek smartwatch band with style
Case sizes: 38mm/40mm/42mm/44mm | Colours: Silver; Black; Gold; Grey; Rose Gold
Mintapple may have mastered the ability to craft watch bands from ostrich and alligator leather, but it’s the metal Milanese Magnetic Strap (£80) we have the most time for.
Arguably the most stylish option we’ve worn, the Milanese loop also has the advantage over other metal bands in the adjustability department. The 316L Stainless Steel bands come in a range of colours to match each Apple Watch case, and we found the magnetic clasp more reliable and secure than even Apple’s own version.
It may not be the most ideal strap for your daily exercise, but it’s the perfect pick for the office, formal occasions and really any time you want to close your Activity rings while looking smart.
Pros: Premier looks; easily adjustable; secure fit
Cons: Not the most comfortable
Price: £80 | Check price on Selfridges [/link] |Mintapple
UAG Civilian Silicone
A rugged band for outdoor adventurers
Case sizes: 42/44mm | Colours: Slate/Orange, Black/Orange
UAG is less concerned with aesthetics and more focused on durability for hikes, climbs and other rugged exercise, with the Civilian Silicone Strap (£30) embodying all this in a sweat-proof package.
While only available for the larger Apple Watch variations, this is an ideal pick for those who want something slightly more rugged than the standard Apple Sport Band. The honeycomb design featured on the band’s underside helps make the fit feel more secure, also aided by the pinhole and buckle closure.
It’s not one we would opt for in everyday use, since it has quite a relatively chunky fit, but there’s no better Apple Watch band for when things get rough.
Pros: Very durable; sweat-proof; easy to clean
Cons: More stylish bands available
Price: £30 | Check price on Amazon | UAG
Casetify Genuine Leather Band
A fine, comfortable leather band
Case sizes: 38mm/40mm/42mm/44mm | Colours: Red; Brown; Black; Blue; Green; Yellow; Pink; Coral; Gray
Apple may have nabbed the top spot, but Casetify’s more traditional styling is by no means lacking in quality. It takes all the concerns over quality we usually have with leather bands and allays them with a band design that fits snug on the wrist — even with the buckle closure.
Made from a range of Italian leathers, Casetify’s band is available in nine different colours and stitchings, with the option to add a two-character monogram and choose the buckle colour (though note this is only available gold and silver). Naturally, it’s not the band you want on during exercise, but it’s an understated all-rounder that remains comfy throughout the day.
Pros: Comfortable; customisable; available in all sizes
Cons: No space grey buckle choice
Price: £50 | Check price on Casetify
Meridio Suede Band
A durable, suede band for smart dressing
Case sizes: 38mm/40mm/42mm/44mm | Colours: Taupe; Dark Brown; Light Brown; Blue; Dark Blue; Green; Pine
Italian leather specialists Meridio have a variety of bands to peruse, but the Suede Band (£64) collection provides one of the most premium bands we’ve tested.
It’s a little thicker on the wrist than many of Apple or Casetify’s leather picks, but the textured suede finish (available in seven different variations) adds a premium feel on the wrist that’s difficult to find with most Apple Watch straps.
It’s probably not a band we would recommend for every occasion, but it’s a perfect change of pace when you want to dress a little smarter, the weather’s a little bleaker or you want something a little different from the dime a dozen leather bands on the market.
Pros: Premium feel; comfortable; durable
Cons: Slightly chunky on the wrist
Price: £64 | Check price on Amazon| Meridio
Casetify Link Bracelet Band
A traditional watch-style link bracelet
Case sizes: 38mm/40mm/42mm/44mm | Colours: Gold; Black; Silver; Yellow Gold/Silver
Link bracelets are slightly more of a hassle to find the correct fit for than their magnetic counterparts, but get it right and the reward is a traditional wristwatch look on the wrist.
In our testing, we found Casetify’s Link Bracelet (£70) the easiest to add and remove links and achieve the best fit. And though metal bands are inevitably less comfortable in all-day use than sporty or leather equivalents, as well as looking just about as elegant as Apple’s own Link Bracelet (£349), it was also the most wearable in its category.
With options available for all three Apple Watch case colours, as well as each size variation, this is an affordable solution for those who want the occasional style upgrade from everyday bands – without paying as much as the smartwatch itself for the pleasure.
Pros: Adjustable; relatively comfortable; classy design
Cons: Not for every occasion
Price: £70 | Check price on Casetify
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