If there’s one thing Apple prides itself on, it’s design. (The company even published a $300 coffee table book about how iconic its products look.) But while they certainly are distinctive, whether you like these designs is another matter. Generally speaking, Apple knows how to make pretty products, but there’s one exception. For some reason, Apple keeps subjecting us all to some real unsightly Apple Watch bands.
The latest fashion crime? Leaked images, first reported by 9to5 Mac and then again on Reddit, show off a potential new redesign for the Apple Watch Leather Loop. The current loop is subtly textured and segmented, but the rumored new straps appear to have more pronounced bumps, a different finish (perhaps more sweat-resistant?), and feature colored accents around the edges. And, my god, they are hideous.
Not only do they look like they’re straight out of a bad ‘70s sci-fi flick (and not in the good way), the sportier aesthetic seems antithetical to why you’d want a leather band in the first place. (As far as chic-yet-sport-friendly leather band designs go, the Skagen Falster 3 sets the standard.) But in all fairness, this rumored redesign wouldn’t be the first ugly watch band Apple has put out in the name of “fashion.”
The perforated Nike bands are also a complete travesty, though they have a squadron of devotees who never fail to defend their favorite eyesores in the comments and my DMs. I regret to inform you that even if they help alleviate sweaty wrists, they are uglier than sin. Surely there is a better way to aerate your wrists than forcing people to risk Swiss cheese watch tans. I will, however, concede that the new perforated Pride Edition sport band is borderline tolerable.
The real gripe here is that none of the official Apple Watch straps look all that great, despite Apple claiming they make a “fashion statement” on its online shop. The traditional Sport Band is fine—inoffensive with some nice colors, but not exactly chic. The nylon Sport Loops, while comfortable and functional, are also blah. The Leather Loops in their current iteration are ho-hum. The Modern Buckle is kind of nice, but also a ridiculous $150 considering how simple the design is. The nicest and swankiest of Apple’s bands is the Milanese loop, but even that fine mesh design is boring and relatively staid as far as metal bands go. I’m not even going to dive into the Hermès leather straps because no one in their right mind would pay upwards of $340 for a nondescript band with a designer name slapped on it when you could find something similar for way cheaper elsewhere.
While we’re on the subject, can Apple please give us more alternative closure options? A good buckle will do. While some people swear by tucking in the loose end on the Sport Bands, I find it chafes and is annoying to take on and off. Your mileage may vary, but another option for those of us who don’t like that design would be appreciated.
The obvious solution is to go on Amazon and find a nice strap that’s also likely to be cheaper than the highway robbery Apple charges. But third-party straps can be hit or miss. While I managed to find one I absolutely love for $15, another crapped out after a few months of wear. (You always think a wraparound band is going to be dope, but then you wear one and the experience is decidedly more finicky.)
For a company that prides itself on design and initially tried to pitch the Apple Watch as a fashionable gadget, its official bands are kinda lame. Who wants to shell out big bucks for a solid-gold or ceramic edition and then pair it with a lackluster silicone band or a bumpy leather atrocity? I’ve spent too much time futzing around in the Apple Watch Studio trying to come up with a combo that I’d feel jazzed about wearing and have come up empty.
Maybe it would sting less if you could dress up the watch with a cool watch face, but you’re limited on that front, too. Sure, some of the faces look nice, but would it kill Apple to release an SDK to let developers take a stab at making their own? This will probably never happen. As I continue to hold my breath, I’m begging you, Apple: Please, no more ugly, overpriced watch bands.