There’s no better way to customise your Apple Watch than with a new strap or band. If you’re looking for leather, stainless steel, Milanese loop bands or something sweat-proof for the gym, there are plenty of high quality, cost effective options out there.
While the official Apple options are expensive, there are thousands of third-party options to suit any budget and wrist size.
Since the original Apple Watch the clasp and mechanism for adding and replacing straps has remained the same.
The only thing to bear in mind is that Apple changed the size of the Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 5 to be 40/44mm, compared to 38/42mm on the Series 1 to Series 3.
Most vendors on Amazon (the best and easiest place to pick up low-cost bands) stock all four sizes, although increasingly the older 38/42mm are being phased out.
How do I know which Apple Watch strap to buy?
First, you’ll need to know what size Apple Watch you have.
Up until the Apple Watch Series 3, you had a choice of 38mm or 42mm models. As the width of the quick connection point will be different, you’ll need to pick the band compatible with your watch size.
From the Apple Watch Series 4 up to the latest Apple Watch Series 5, Apple offers 40mm and 44mm sizes. So again, make sure you pick the right size.
Hold the strip just below where your wrist bone sits and around where you would normally wear the band, wrap it around your wrist and line that up with the sizes of your Watch model.
Generally speaking, a small wrist is 5 – 6.5 inches and a large wrist is between 7 – 8.5 inches, but the good thing about many Apple Watch bands is that you can adjust with velcro or within the perforations of sports straps to find a very specific fit.
Southern Straps Brown Leather
Price when reviewed: $99.95
Handcrafted in San Francisco, Southern Straps’ Brown Leather strap 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 – and it’s still cheaper than an official Apple number.
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.
Fitlink Stainless Steel Metal Strap
Price when reviewed: £13.99
Available in all Apple Watch sizes the Fitlink stainless steel metal strap is a classic option for anyone looking for a metal link band. It fits all Apple Watch editions and costs a fraction of the price of an official metal link band. There’s no hiding from the fact that adjusting link bracelets is a pain, but the Fitlink comes with the tools to do it at home.
MCORS Milanese Loop
Price when reviewed: £11.59
The Milanese Loop is possibly the most popular style out there – and you can bag one in pretty much any colour from stainless steel to rose gold. We love our gold bands, and this is a low-cost way to get a seriously stylish loop.
This Amazon best-seller comes in all four Apple Watch sizes, and costs a fraction of the official price.
Biaoge Metal Band
Price when reviewed: £26.99
Not every third party Apple Watch band is a copy of official Apple Watch styles – and this one certainly ticks the box of being unique and high quality. Clearly a feminine design, it mixes dainty chains with a link bracelet – and comes in all Apple Watch sizes.
MIFA leather band
Price when reviewed: £21
If you’re looking to add a touch of class to your Apple smartwatch yet don’t want to pay big bucks, this leather strap should do the business. It comes in 42mm and 44mm flavours, making it Series 4 and Series 5 focused, and comes with steel adaptors and a buckle fastener.
OHCBOOGIE Sport Loop Band (3 pack)
Price when reviewed: £9.99
A shameless copy of Apple’s own nylon offering, it’s a pretty good imitation at a fraction of the cost. In fact, you get three in the pack, and there’s a host of color bundles to choose from so you can really live the personalization lifestyle – including a Pride option.
iGK Sport Band
Price when reviewed: £6
Silicon bands are perfect for those who like to get sweaty or swim with their Apple Watch – so it’s handy being able to pick these up for less than £10 a pop. There are a bunch of colours available, and buying a few means you can leave one in your gym bag so you’ll never have to suffer wearing a Milanese loop on the treadmill. Just make sure you clean and dry this one regularly to avoid any wrist rashes.
Marge Plus leather band
Price when reviewed: £14.99
Likewise, there are plenty of leather strap options available on a shoestring, too. This genuine leather number has a metal buckle and improved strength making it well worth a pop.
Cinnamon leather band
Price when reviewed: £19.56
A lovely deep brown leather watch band, this cinnamon coloured leather strap comes in 38mm, 40mm, 42mm and 44mm flavours to suit Apple Watch Series 3, Series 4 and Series 5. It uses a buckle fastening, comes with Apple Watch fastening and hand-stitched detailing.
Watch Strap Co steel mesh band
Price when reviewed: £65
The Watch Strap Co’s Milanese band is by no means the cheapest out there, but blends British quality while still managing to convincingly undercut the official Apple versions. The mesh loop comes in size options for all Apple Watch generations, and in silver, gold, rose gold, space gray and black options.
Watch Strap Co leather strap
Price when reviewed: £55
The Watch Strap Co’s leather options again undercut official prices, while still adding quality – but customisation is our favorite part of the offering. You’re free to color-code all of the metal elements to the color of your Apple Watch’s body, so you can accent rose gold, stainless steel or space gray with your choice of leather. In terms of leather options, there are dark, light and black leather, and you can choose stitching options too.
Tovelo Sport Loop Pride Band
Price when reviewed: £7.99
There’s a budget version of every strap that Apple officially produces – and that even goes for the Pride band too. The Tovelo Sport Loop comes in every conceivable colour – but the most eye-catching is its rainbow option, which is perfect for those looking to celebrate Pride 2020, with a sub-$10 price tag.
Carterjett sport tire strap
Price when reviewed: $19.99
If you’re into cars – or even if you’re not – this tire-inspired silicone number has a certain unique charm. The durable soft silicone can also withstand sweat and moisture. As there aren’t any screws or spring bars, you don’t have to worry about it falling apart during an intense workout either.
Southern Straps Nylon Bands
Price when reviewed: $49.95
If you want something eye-catching and colorful, the Nylon Bands from Southern Straps are bound to stand out. They’re available in a range of color options to stand out from the crowd.
Better yet, these handcrafted Apple Watch bands come with an unbeatable five year warranty, so you know they’re built to last. The bands can be taken apart for cleaning and reassembled with ease thanks to a pegged spring bar.
These bands are compatible with every model of Apple Watch.
Rose Gold & Chocolate bracelet
Price when reviewed: £39.56
The Apple Watch has a rep for being fairly chunky on the wrist, but buying a leather bracelet strap like this rose gold and chocolate number is a good way to reduce the bulk. It’s a double wrap style measuring just 7mm, making it substantially thinner than your average band even when wrapped twice. It’s made with leather, features an adjustable buckle, and loops nicely over the Watch fastening to add detail you can’t find elsewhere – but be warned, it only comes in 40mm and 44mm Series 4 sizes.
Price when reviewed: £43.73
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.
Price when reviewed: $99
Coming in a choice of six leather variations, Alto’s bands are another consideration for those who aren’t sold on Apple’s own styles. Since it’s leather, Alto indicates that the band will eventually develop into a different shade, and there are options for those with all Apple Watch sizes. And the great bonus of leather bands is that they’re generally unisex-looking, meaning the only thing you have to worry about is the colour.
Pad & Quill Field Strap
Price when reviewed: $99.95
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.
Price when reviewed: €79.99
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 stuff.
Monowear Nylon Active
Price when reviewed: $31.99
You want a nice nylon strap, but you’d prefer it of the loop variety, like Apple’s own 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 panel on the back and stainless steel lugs, making this a good match for either the aluminium or stainless steel Apple Watch variations.
Nomad Modern Leather
Price when reviewed: $69.95
Nomad’s leather straps are unlike others. The Modern Strap has got a bold, minimalistic style that’s reminiscent of a sports band in the right lighting – but it’s not, with slim-to-nil stitching and a refreshing slate grey colour. The straps are made out of Horween leather and are designed to patina over time, giving you a rugged long-term look to complement its modern design.