Enhance Your Apple Watch for Less

I love my Apple Watch and almost everything about it. I used to collect analog wrist watches but haven’t worn one since I got my first Apple Watch back in 2015. I can only think of a couple of things I don’t love—namely, battery life and overpriced watchbands.

I can’t do anything about the former, but I’ll give you an excellent solution for the latter after a bit of watchband background.

BAW (Before Apple Watch)

Before the Apple Watch, changing your watchband was a challenge involving hand tools and tiny spring-loaded pins that attached the watchband to the watch. It was a hassle; most people only changed their analog watchband when it broke.

AAW (After Apple Watch)

Among the Apple Watch’s best features, at least in my humble opinion, is its exclusive system for quickly and easily changing your watchband without tools. It’s as safe and secure as analog watchbands attached with pins, requires no tools, and lets you change bands quickly and easily. So, while I never changed analog watchbands unless I had to, I find joy in swapping my watchband to suit my mood.

I’m a cheapskate, so even though Apple-branded watchbands ($49 to $449) are beautifully made and of the highest quality, they’re also way overpriced.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can find thousands of high-quality third-party watchbands for a fraction of the price. I’ve ordered at least a dozen from Amazon and have been satisfied with every one of them. For example, Apple’s Sport Band is made of custom high-performance fluoroelastomer and costs $49, while high-quality third-party knock-offs cost under $10 each at Amazon.com.

Buy Bands for Less

The third-party bands don’t boast fancy fluoroelastomers (they use silicone), but they still look and feel good enough for me. And I can have five third-party bands like this for the price of one similar band from Apple.

Here’s another example: I’ve always liked Apple’s link bracelets but felt their prices—$349 in silver or $449 in space black—were outrageous. While I haven’t found a third-party link bracelet just like Apple’s, I found several I consider more attractive at a fraction of the price. My favorite so far is the MioHHR Solid Stainless Steel Band, available in silver, black, and five other colors for $19.99 through Amazon. I have been wearing it for a few weeks and have received numerous compliments.

I love my MioHHR stainless steel link watchband for Apple Watch.
I love my MioHHR stainless steel link watchband.

Hmmm. That means I could afford 17 for the cost of a single Apple link bracelet.

Some of my other faves include a distressed leather band from KADES ($11.99 through Amazon), a braided silicone elastic band from FnKer ($14.99), and magnetic leather bands from several vendors (under $20).

I really like this Kades band in distressed leather.
I really like this Kades band in distressed leather.

If you haven’t tried a third-party watch band with your Apple Watch, you’re in for a treat (not to mention significant savings over Apple-branded bands). In fact, you can use this link to search Amazon for all Apple Watch bands.

4 thoughts on “Enhance Your Apple Watch for Less

  • Thanks, y’all! I’ve been really happy with the build quality of the items I’ve been testing. As I said on the Daily Observations podcast, I’ve ordered more than a dozen and haven’t had to return one over quality issues yet.

  • Thank you for these recommendations, Dr. Mac! Right now I have several inexpensive silicone bands in different colors. As much as I love the Stainless Steel Band, I don’t think I would be able to adjust it to fit my wrist. I have visions of the little pins scattered all over the floor. On the other hand, I am totally able to fasten the clasp on the distressed leather band from KADES and will be ordering it from Amazon!

    1. The stainless steel band came with a little tool for adding/removing links. I had to remove a couple on mine, but it wasn’t too difficult. (Plus, if I failed totally, I could still afford 16 more for the price of one Apple metal band…) 😜

  • Bob:

    1 X (Apple SS Bracelet ÷ MioHHR SS Bracelet) = 17

    That’s compelling. 

    What I like most about this article is that you have actually used the product, and can report its performance. 

    I think I told you the story of one of my son’s trips to Russia, when, in a near panic as we were about to leave for the airport, he discovered that the clasp of his brand new third party Apple Watch arrived broken. I gave him a choice of one of my Apple sports bands, and off we went. He was a happy camper. 

    I also reminded the lad that, when travelling, of which we did considerably more when he was more of a wee tyke, understatement in one’s apparel and accessories is the key to happier and safer travels. Flashy iridescence on one’s Apple Watch band whilst abroad was probably never a good idea, so he was probably better off that it malfunctioned.

    The point is, he knew nothing about this company or their products, other than they had some fancy, iridescent – looking band within his price range. He assumed all of the risk, but without benefit. Having a review of a third party product from a trusted source is definitely a benefit. 

    Many thanks!

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