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Like other wearables, the Apple Watch is a useful piece of technology that’s also an accessory you wear every day. That makes the band a pretty important feature. If your Apple Watch band is uncomfortable, wears out quickly, or simply doesn’t fit your personal aesthetic, it can be a constant annoyance. And it’s just more enjoyable to wear something you like and enjoy looking at a million times a day. Fortunately, there is a whole world of Apple Watch bands out there, meaning you’re sure to find something that fits both your needs and your style.
The primary consideration when shopping for an Apple Watch band is compatibility. Know the model of your watch and the size of the screen and make sure the bands you’re looking at will fit the hardware on your watch. Consider factors like material and comfort because you’ll be wearing it against your skin all day. Also, think about durability: there are plenty of super cheap bands out there, but many of them won’t last. And, of course, consider how it looks. From timeless designs to fun colors and prints, a watch band is a great way to reflect a little of your personal style.
Clean design in many colors
Fits all versions of Apple Watch
Apple’s classic Sport Band is probably the most iconic Apple Watch band out there. With an ultra-sleek design made from a soft plastic called fluoroelastomer, the Sport Band is ready to go wherever you go and compliment any outfit. It fits close to the wrist so you know your Watch is comfortable and secure whether you’re tracking your workouts or tracking your sleep. It’s compatible with all versions of the Apple Watch.
The Sport Band comes in an irresistible array of tasteful and unusual colors. You can get classic black or white, or branch out to Cactus (a muted blue-green), Vitamin C (bright orange), Lemon Cream (pale yellow), and many more color options. Like most Apple products, the Sport Band is on the pricier side. Fortunately, it’s one of the cheaper Apple brand bands, and we think the balance of quality and price still earns it the top spot.
Affordable rubber sport band
Wide range of color options
Great budget alternative to official Apple Sport Band
Rubber band sometimes causes sweat underneath when working out
Priced at less than ten dollars, this third-party Apple Watch band fits the Series 1-5 and is quite the bargain. It is made with high-quality silicone and fastened with hypoallergenic stainless steel pins, lending itself to a clean and secure fit.
The material is also highly durable, resistant to sweat — though it does tend to get your wrist sweaty underneath when working out — and water. It's also impervious to chafing. The iGK Sport Band offers ten stylish colors and comes in four different sizes: Small/Medium and Medium/Large wristbands for both the 38/40mm and 42/44mm Apple Watches. For active users, the iGK is practically weightless, making it the perfect accessory for your busy life.
Sturdy, lightweight rubber
Made for durability
Available in a range of sizes and colors
Tire tread design might be too rugged for some
Rubber might not be the go-to Apple Watch third-party replacement band for many, but for outdoorsy types, the Carterjett Apple Watch tire tread rubber band is a must-own. Available in eight different colors and in both 38mm and 42mm sizes, these lightweight bands feel tough enough to endure nearly any type of activity.
Carterjett highlights that the tire tread rubber band is also waterproof and hypoallergenic to prevent reported issues that have plagued competitive models. A classic buckle and multiple holes allow you to customize the fit of the band to based on the size of your wrist while its silicone construction makes it feel both flexible and high-quality.
Band fits all wrist sizes
This Milanese Loop from Apple is both understated and eye-catching, perfect for those with minimalist tastes. Made from a single strip of Italian-made stainless steel mesh, this band looks delicate but has a durable build. It doesn’t even have a buckle — the entire band is magnetic and, when doubled-back, simply sticks to itself. This allows it to effortlessly adjust to any size wrist for the perfect fit.
Like most other Apple brand bands, the Milanese Loop is compatible with all versions of the Apple Watch. It’s certainly on the expensive side, but for those who want something sleek and high-quality, this one’s going to be hard to beat on both aesthetics and functionality. The Milanese loop is available in silver, gold, and black finishes.
Provides extra scratch protection
Compatible with wireless charging
Does not cover the screen
The vast majority of Apple Watch bands are just that: bands. They don’t offer any protection for the expensive device on your wrist. If you wear your Apple Watch everywhere, a case can ward off scratches and other day-to-day damage. The Spigen Rugged Armor band includes a color-coordinated case that wraps around all four sides of your Apple Watch. Its raised bezel protects the screen from scratches if you happen to set it facedown on a surface, and the all-around design provides some shock protection if you drop or knock it against something. It doesn’t cover the screen, so you’ll need to invest in a separate screen protector if you’re concerned about full 360-degree protection.
The one downside, as with most protective cases, is that the Rugged Armor Pro has a pretty bulky silhouette and the ultra-sleek aesthetic of the Apple Watch gets buried. But if protection is your main concern, the functionality will probably outweigh the aesthetics. The Spigen Rugged Armor Pro is offered in black, gray, and dark green. As of the time of this writing, it is only available for Apple Watch Series 4 and 5.
Wears in like a traditional watch band
Leather is stiff at first
With its futuristic aesthetic and plethora of high-tech features, the Apple Watch can make some nostalgic for the timeless style of a traditional wristwatch. The Nomad Traditional Strap bridges the gap to blend old-school cool with new school tech. Made from premium Horween leather (one of the oldest tanneries in the United States), this band radiates timeless style and complements any outfit. And, like traditional leather watch bands, it starts out a bit stiff but breaks in beautifully the more you wear it.
The Nomad Traditional model comes in both black and brown leather with either black or silver hardware to match your Apple Watch. The result is a seamless combination of classic and contemporary. This is one of the more expensive bands on our list, but if you want something with longevity, you may just find it’s worth the investment.
Stylish Double Tour design
Only fits 40mm cases
If money is no object, then there are some very high-end bands out there that can turn your Apple Watch into a true luxury accessory. One of them is the Hermès Double Tour band. These leather bands are handmade in France and feature an eye-catching Double Tour design, meaning they wrap twice around the wrist for a kind of bracelet effect. This collaboration between Apple and the iconic French brand cuts no corners, and it’s reflected in both the quality and price.
At the time of this writing, these bands work with 40mm Apple Watches and come in one size that fits 130-155mm wrists (5.1-6.1 inches). It’s available in five colors, including solid black and brown and three prints. These three bands feature a combination of solid and printed leather in red, navy blue, or gray.
Unique design, made from stainless-steel and black sandalwood
Available in several eye-catching styles
Not designed for frequent use in water
An Apple Watch band made out of wood might raise plenty of eyebrows, but the LDFAS natural wood band makes an excellent first impression. The combination of a natural black sandalwood and stainless-steel metal band is an eye-catching arrangement boosted by an equally eye-catching price tag.
The butterfly folding clasp keeps the watch firmly in place on your wrist and prevents loosening during everyday wear. As with most wooden products, the LDFAS band isn't waterproof, so active individuals might consider a silicone-based band more practical for sports.
Beyond activities, the natural sandalwood becomes more attractive over time as wear and tear bring out rich color tones. Installation guidelines are included right in the box, as is the necessary hardware to remove individual links.
Resistant to water and sweat
Expandable, customizable length
Third-party stainless-steel Apple Watch bands are readily available, so standing out is a tall order. Fortunately, the Twist-O-Flex by Speidel combines fashionable style and mainstream appeal with a wallet-friendly price tag. Available in black, silver, and brushed colors, as well as 38mm and 42mm sizes, the Speidel is resistant to water and sweat.
The band's overall flexibility plays to its strength by stretching up to a range of five inches, allowing users to easily take the Speidel off and put it back on again. The design offers two layers of steel pieces, providing extra support and making the Speidel durable and long-lasting.
The Apple Sport Band comes out on top for its comfortable fit, clean design, delightful color options, and reasonable price for the quality. Sometimes the classics are classic for a reason.
While we haven't tested Apple watch bands yet, when we do, our expert reviewers and testers will evaluate them on style, comfort, fit, and durability. First, we swap in the band for the existing Apple watch strap, making sure it's compatible. Then we take a look at the material of the band, judging how attractive it is, if it can blend into professional environments and the gym, and how resistant it is to sweat. Finally, we examine the price and compare it to similar bands in the same range to make our final judgement. All of the Apple watch bands we test are purchased by Lifewire; none are provided by the manufacturer.
David Beren is a tech journalist with more than ten years of experience covering the industry. He even founded his own tech site, and has also worked as a social media and content marketing manager for major consumer brands.
A former editor of Lifewire’s product round-ups, Emmeline Kaser has over four years of experience researching and writing about the best consumer products out there. She specializes in consumer tech.
Material - You can buy Apple Watch bands in pretty much any material that regular watch bands come in. The question is, how will you be using the watch? If you’re big on the outdoors, a material that isn’t delicate and is easy to clean, such as nylon, might be a good fit. If you’ll mainly be wearing the watch in and out of meetings, stainless steel is a great choice.
Price - Even though these are third-party Apple Watch bands, they can be pricey. It’s worth taking budget into account, especially because one of the benefits of an Apple Watch is the ability to switch out bands based on the occasion. It might be worth going for a lower-priced band and being able to buy two, rather than one fancier band.
Style - Regular watches are often fashion statements, and your Apple Watch can be, too. From wood-grain options to more classic styles, there are plenty of Apple Watch bands that are just as fashionable as they are functional.