I was always annoyed by some of the aesthetic aspects on the Apple Watch. The square shape is yours. Although the large screen size is ideal for ease of use, it can be a bit bulky on some wrists.
It’s not as difficult as it looks to make the Apple Watch look more fashionable. It’s not difficult to choose the right band for you.
This post features my top-rated Apple Watch bands and the watches that inspired.
I was inspired by classic watches for men and imagined if Cartier, IWC, Rolex, and IWC would create their own Apple Watch.
We then searched for and tested classic watches that had matching bands. We returned any bands that did not meet our expectations in terms of design and quality.
1. The Rolex Oyster classic metal band
What introduction do I need to make to The Rolex band? All dress codes are covered, from jeans and casual t-shirts to suits with this band.
Rolex’s bracelets or bands are well known. They have a link design with two small links at the outside and a larger one in the middle. There is also a folding-hinge clasp closure.
Epic Watch Bands’ stainless steel Apple Watch band ($49), has all the right details. We tried other options that had too shiny links, which made the band feel cheap. The strap is also very light, which clients have commented on. It makes the watch feel much more expensive.
2. Rugged leather band: IWC Pilot’s Mark XVIII leather band
The Mark XVIII edge stitch calfskin leather strap is my favorite. It’s more wearable in formal settings because it has been switched from NATO to leather.
Style is great for business-casual to more casual outfits. It has a more casual look due to the thicker bands and patina. It is not recommended to be worn with formal outfits.
IWC’s leather straps, like many luxury brands, are made from calfskin. Calfskin is known for its softness and durability. Calfskin is 1.5-2x more expensive that cowskin because you get more leather from a full grown cow.
Another important detail is the thick edge stitching. This gives the strap more visual impact. The edge stitching can snap more easily over time, so it is best to use cheaper threads.
My pick: Bandwerk’s Berlin Apple Watch Strap ($97).
Although Bandwerk uses Italian cowhide it was not a problem for me or my clients. The leather was of high quality.
Bandwerk also used Gutermann thread. This is a very high quality thread I prefer when making leather jackets. This tells me that they are experts in leatherwork. It is possible to add a butterfly closure.
Notification: You must mention that you have a 42mm Apple Watch in your order. Bandwerk lists only 40mm and 44mm bands, but will send you a 42mm adapter.
3. The Cartier Tank leather Croc Band is the dressy leather band
If you are wearing a tuxedo, I wouldn’t recommend that you wear your Apple Watch. A croc strap on your watch is a great option for any situation where you might need to dress up, even if it’s an Apple.
The Cartier Tank with Croc Strap is my favorite watch, worn by men such as Muhammed Ali and Andy Warhol.
The Cartier Tank’s rectangular design makes it easy to adapt to the Apple Watch. Style is great for all dress codes. The style is very versatile, even though it has a more formal appearance. Look online at Muhammad Ali wearing one with a white shirt and a white tee.
Signature details of the band: the crocodile design. Cartier Tank croc straps have a subtler edge stitching that is more visible, giving them a cleaner and elegant look.
Hadley is the only company I have seen that offers real croc straps ($133), as well as a more affordable gator-embossed cowskin ($63). The flexibility to choose from a variety of buckle options was a great feature for my client. I would recommend a black or brown Croc strap with a silver metal buckle.
4. The IWC Mark 11 NATO strap is the tactical military band
The NATO strap watch band, like many menswear, is a product of the military. It can be very polarizing to put a nylon strap on your Rolex, as Sean Connery’s Bond suggests. It’ll provide you with some tactical vibes for your Apple Watch, which is already polarizing.
Style is great for casual looks. A suit and tie can make the tactical, military style too stark.
The NATO-style straps are known for being too long. Extra long nylon straps are worn by placing it behind your watch, instead of at the ends. This extra step is believed to prevent the watch moving. It’s a military failsafe.
This extra material between your wrist, watch and watch can be too bulky for some men. You can reduce its bulk by changing the way you strap it. Metal loops, which are much more durable than fabric loops, are another key detail I tried to find.
My pick: Shinola’s Nylon Apple Watch Strap ($75). It was nearly impossible to find a long NATO strap that would fit the Apple Watch. Most likely, because traditional strapping would not cover the sensor on the back of your watch.
Shinola’s hardware was the best among all the nylon straps for the Apple Watch. Other buckles were too lightweight and expensive, according to my client. Shinola’s buckles were more robust and had a similar finish to the Apple Watch.
I like the diversity of colors, but I prefer olive or black to be classic.
5. The elegant metal mesh of Seiko Sarb065 Cocktail Time
With the Omega Seamaster Ploprof’s release in 1970, the fine chain-link style became very popular. Many gave the band the nickname “shark Mesh” after the diver, most likely because of its similarity to shark mesh suits. It was shark-proof, but it did not make the suit waterproof.
Style is great for dressier looks. The fine mesh is popular for its elegance and use with divers watches and other armor-like aesthetics. It is especially well-suited for formal and tailored outfits.
Signature details of the band: a fine chain-link metal, similar to medieval armor or shark mesh.
My pick: Apple’s Milanese Loop ($99). There are many mesh bands available on the market but many of my clients found that the knockoffs wore out faster than the official Apple model.
The loop band is also praised by clients for its quality and finish. Some clients noted that Apple’s loop band had a tighter mesh than other brands, which allowed it to wrap more comfortably around the wrist.
6. The retro metal band Audemars Piguet Royal Oak stainless-steel band
The Royal Oak’s stainless steel angular construction is one the most iconic and famous designs since it was introduced in 1972. Celebrities and rappers have made the watch a huge hit in recent years.
Style is great for all dress codes. Its minimalist, sleek design is versatile. You can take a cue form celebrities and their Royal Oaks. Don’t be afraid of wearing the band with your casual or suit & tie outfits.
Signature details of the band: flat, angular brushed steel.
My clients loved the Apple Silver Link Bracelet ($349). It felt luxurious and blended seamlessly with the Apple Watch. It’s not surprising. The most notable feature is the Apple-like adjusting mechanism that allows you to add and remove links without using any special tools.
Nomad’s Steel Band ($149) was preferred by a few clients. They cited the magnetic clasp and $200 savings as reasons. Nomad’s stainless steel band was a little too shiny for me.
Nomad offers many options. Personally, I prefer the Nomad silver titanium band ($249). Titanium is stronger than steel, but is 45% lighter. It is virtually impossible to corrode in sweat or salt water. These bonuses are well worth the $100 price increase.
Why did I choose Apple’s Silver Link Bracelet instead of Nomads?
Apple’s links are more elegant in aesthetics. They are flatter and have a similar appearance to a scale. Nomad’s links have rounded edges and are more noticeable from the sides.
While there are luxury companies that make full watches and bands, I don’t think they can match the Royal Oak’s aesthetics.
What about other Apple or Hermes bands?
Apple’s straps are unique and don’t fit into this list. Here are some thoughts and suggestions.
Clients who use the Apple Watch for exercise are fond of the Nike Sport Band ($49), which is made from fluoroelastomer rubber. The watch is comfortable and breathable thanks to the perforations. The more fashion-forward option is the double tour band of The Hermes ($489). I remember being excited about the announcement of the Apple Watch’s signature strap as a Hermes double-tour watch owner.
An Apple Watch with a double-tour strap is too bulky for me. Double tour bands are best paired with smaller and thinner watches cases. The single tour leather model ($339) is my recommendation if you are looking for one of the luxurious Apple Bands by Hermes.