Third-Party Apple Watch Straps That Won’t Break The Bank
I love my Apple Watch. There, I said it. The device has had many detractors since it was first announced, some of them reasonable and some not. Personally it is the best watch I have ever owned. The two main reasons being Apple Pay and notifications. Obviously all of its other functions are also valuable, but these two features really make the device invaluable for me.
Another handy aspect of the Apple Watch is the ability to customise it. Not only the face, complications and the array of apps available for installation, but also the ever growing number of Apple Watch straps. These have been steadily increasing with ever more brands, especially high fashion designers, creating bands, with Apple itself recently announcing a new line of Woven Nylon straps.
As with most items Apple sells the cost can sometimes be prohibitive if you are looking at acquiring a fairly large collection of straps to fit your various moods or occasions. Fortunately, as with iPhone and iPad assesories, there is a thriving third-party market that offers some excellent alternatives without threatening your bank balance excessively.
I must admit I had never even heard of a Double Tour strap let alone ever seen one before the new Apple Watch straps from Hermes were revealed. The official Apple Watch Hemés Double Tour is only available for the 38mm version and is priced at £420 (no, that's not a typo). It is hand made by artisans in Paris and so it is probably not that surprising to have such a price tag attached.
Fortunately a quick search an Amazon reveals a number of 'faux-party' alternatives, which are available for both sizes of the Apple Watch. Although these probably do not have the same soft leather feel of the original they still serve their function and look pretty stylish once double wrapped around your wrist. I had originally thought double tour was strictly a female style but a quick search on Google revealed a number of male versions.
It was a little odd initially wrapping the strap twice around my wrist and it took a few tries before I felt comfortable performing the seemingly easy operation. As with most leather third-party straps they are initially pretty unforgiving and seem to want to retain their inherent stiffness, but a few sessions of wearing them in soon combats this resilience.
The strap does indeed look elegant and stylish. Although I went for a blue option I think I'll be purchasing another in either black or brown leather very shortly… Again, at a price that won't make my debit card cry.
If your preferred style is more tilted towards the classic leather watch strap then this elegant looking strap may be for you. Although the quality of leather may be nowhere near the standard provided by the official Apple Watch straps neither is the price.
The strap feels very stiff and unforgiving initially but it soon softens with use and time to become very comfortable on the wrist. This is probably the most basic strap I purchased during my buying sessions over the past year. I tend not to wear it much as I am not really a fan of how the straps don’t reach right into the lugs of the watch itself but rather have their own secondary lugs which the strap is afixed to. This might not bother everyone, but it bothers me for some reason, just a personal hangup I guess.
That being said the strap does feel very light and the buckle secures the watch safely in place. The strap was not that long and I only managed to fasten it by the last available hole, however bear in mind I’m a 6’7” guy and so my wrists are pretty big.
I have always been a fan of the chunky looking metal straps for watches. Back in the day, when I still wore a regular watch, these were the kind I typically went for, feeling the usual leather variety were too feminine (don't worry, I've grown up a bit since then…honest).
With quite large wrists I was a little bit apprehensive that this style of watch strap would not fit me. However my apprehensions proved unnecessary because not only did the strap fit it, was also too big. Fortunately an adjustment tool (a tiny screwdriver) was included in the box and, although not as easy as Apple's method of adjusting the size, I had soon removed the extraneous link, reattached the strap and had it fitted snuggly on my wrist.
This stainless steel strap unsurprisingly adds quite a bit of weight to your device and you can certainly feel its presence as you move your arm around. Although that being said, it is still comfortable and very easy to fasten and remove, thanks to the easy clip clasp at the rear.
I was quite taken aback with this strap when it arrived from Amazon. It felt comfortable on the wrist and the magnetic clasp meant it was a breeze to slip on every day. It added a degree of classiness to my device and was the first leather covered strap I purchased. As a result I wore it everywhere, including when I went training. This may have been a mistake.
The strap does closely resemble that of the official Leather Loop from Apple, but of all the straps I have purchased, this is the only one to show any significant wear and tear. Some of the leather coating has started to peel from where the strap connects to the watch, not a significant amount but enough to distract me every time I flick my wrist to see what the time is. I doubt anyone else looking would notice, but for me it is glaring each and every time. As I say this is probably my own fault for wearing it so hard initially, but here is the biggest advantage of a third party option. I can just buy another without breaking my piggybank and save it for less stressful occasions, instead of when working out or visiting the tax man.
For months it was rumoured that Apple would produce a black Milanese strap, in fact there were often reports that Apple employees had been sighted on the Apple campus sporting such fabled items, which were not available to the greater public. However, if you'd been paying attention to the third party market, you could have had a black Milanese loop strap shortly after the Apple Watch first arrived.
This is probably still my favourite strap to wear. It is so comfortable that I never even realise I'm wearing it until my watch vibrates to get my attention. I had initially feared that the magnet would not be powerful enough to hold the strap in place and it might slip from my wrist without me noticing, but to date I have never had an issue with it and doubt I will as fortunately the magnet feels very strong for the task it is assigned. Again, having such a large wrist, I thought the strap might not reach all the way around but again this fear was unfounded. In fact it might only prove an issue if your wrist is of the small variety, as there is no way to shorten the strap.
Finally we come to the third party equivalent of what most people probably got when they purchased their Apple Watch. Although these may not be made of Apple’s custom high-performance fluoroelastomer, they do still have the pin-and-tuck closure. The silicone does feel very cheap and far more flexible than the official version. However, as with all the above straps, the asking price doesn’t even come close to Apple’s version.
Personally, I now only use this kind of strap when I am working out. Due to their relative cheapness I have bought a few different colours over the months to add a little colour and variety to my workout sessions. As I mentioned, they do feel cheaper than their official counterparts, probably the most cheap feeling comparison of all the above straps, but they still perform the task required. In other words they are light and secure your watch safely to your wrist. What more can you ask for when out on a run?
I feel the Apple Watch is still a wonderful device despite what many non-owners would try and have me believe. Sure, there are still several areas that need to be addressed in future updates and I have no fear Apple will do so. The only real issue I had with the watch initially was the price of the straps. I am not a rich man and so I was a little disheartened by the cost of all the official offerings. I was also concerned that Apple might litigate anyone who dared to copy their lug design for fitting new straps. As it transpired my fears were unfounded and this has allowed a thriving third-party market to develop. As I mentioned several times above, do not buy these straps expecting the same quality of design and materials used by Apple and its associated designers, as you may be sorely disappointed. However, it you want a cheap way to expand the look, style and feel of your Apple Watch, then these third-party offerings may be the way to go.
I have only listed a few here and I have purchased all the ones listed with my own money. Every month I continue to check what else is available and am heartened to see many more options joining the list all the time. I am pretty sure that no matter which style of strap you are looking for you will find a quality product listed on the pages of Amazon or eBay that will satisfy your style as well as your wallet.
Please note: All prices were correct at time of publication. Due to the nature of sales on Amazon they may fluctuate over time.
Do you have an Apple watch strap that you love or have you been bitten by a cheaper alternative? Why not share the details in the comments section below? We’d love to hear from you.