The Apple Watch helps me get through the day. Like I mentioned in the recent video Is The Apple Watch A Keeper (In 60 Seconds), the Apple Watch has helped me get fit and stay healthier, has helped me become more organized and has kept me more informed.
But like anything, after time, even a new gadget from Apple can start to feel a bit stale… or too familiar. People like variety. It’s why they customize their iPhones with cases and wallpapers that match their personality or mood or even the occasion.
Interestingly, Apple is known for giving people fewer options in the name of higher quality. Android for years has been a realm where almost anything goes, for instance, while iOS has remained a walled garden. Obviously, that’s an approach that has served Apple well in recent years, but the ability for Watch owners to swap bands (even for bands not designed in Cupertino) is a good way to strike a balance with customers on the issue of choice.
Especially since all but one of Apple’s Watch bands cost $149 or more.
Recently, several companies have made it their mission to provide Apple Watch buyers with alternatives to official Apple Watch bands. For the past several days I’ve been putting bands from one such company to the test.
Monowear’s tagline is this: A band for every occasion. And I like the connotation. Watch bands designed by Apple are seemingly designed for the “lower, middle and upper” classes of Apple customers. So rather than catering to a person’s status, Monowear appeals to a person’s sense of style and has designed it’s line to be versatile enough to fit multiple life situations (while being more wallet-friendly in the process).
Laid out before me are several nylon and leather Monowear Apple Watch bands. More specifically, they are the brown and navy leather and olive nylon (with black straps) versions. The Apple Watch version I’ve been testing them with is the 42mm Space Gray Aluminum Case (that came with the Black Sport Band).
Before I dive into what the bands were like in everyday use, I will freely admit that I felt a bit weird wearing a non-Apple band in the first place. There was part of my brain that was hung up on the fact that they weren’t “official.” And that feeling still persists to an extent, but, after wearing the Monowear bands around, I’m pretty excited about the possibility of changing things up whenever I feel like it.
The leather bands are genuine leather. I consider them to be like nice casual or even somewhat formal depending on the situation. For me, they’d basically go with my typical weekday outfits.
There are a few more holes in the leather Monowear bands than in the band that comes with the Apple Watch Sport model. So if you have a larger or smaller than normal wrist, these might fit you a bit better. You might think that would make these straps longer than the official Apple straps, but that’s actually not the case; the Monowear bands are slightly shorter than Apple’s bands.
Like any product made of animal hide, the leather Monowear bands can get a bit beat up, but that’s to be expected. Even so, and I kid you not, slightly rough fingers can scratch the brown leather band fairly easily. But who cares (in my opinion)? Worn leather is used leather and it adds character.
The leather bands are soft and comfortable to wear, however they don’t feel more or less comfortable than Apple’s bands.
Stylistically I like the way the way the leather bands look. In a way I think they reintegrate the sporty version of the Apple Watch into the realm of classic fashion. What I mean is, wearing the Apple Watch with the sport band doesn’t mesh so well with clothes from a retailer like Frank & Oak, for instance, even though it excels at working well with workout gear.
The nylon band reminds me a bit of a military-style watch band. Maybe that’s a bad description, I dunno. But one thing is for certain: the nylon Monowear bands are tough. I’m definitely not worried about messing them up or getting them dirty. For that reason, I’d call them super casual. Perfect for a tee-shirt day.
In contrast to the 10 holes on the leather Monowear bands, the nylon bands only have 7 holes. The length of the band is the same, however.
I think the nylon bands will probably appeal most to hipster types, or retro types or people just looking for something different. They’re kind of the antithesis of the Apple Watch in a way — a bit unrefined, a little less slick and sort of clashy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like them.
One thing to keep in mind is the metal loops might be tough on certain desk surfaces. For instance, I’ve got a clear glass desk and overtime I sit down to write an article wearing the nylon band, it clanks on the desk. Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind. It’s no different than any metal Watch band, after all.
Keep this in mind before you buy 10 different bands for your Apple Watch: changing out bands is sort of a pain. Not a big pain, and not hard (by any means), but it’s a process. If you’re thinking to yourself that you’re going to wear a sport band in the morning when you exercise, swap that for a leather or metal link band during work and then change that out for another band before you hit the town that night — and do that daily — better think again.
Changing bands too frequently gets old fast. I think most people might be more inclined to swap bands like once a week or maybe even month just for the sake of variety and keeping things fresh. Still, having the option and not being stuck with one choice is pretty awesome. Plus, it’s a great way to differentiate yourself from anyone else you know who has an Apple Watch.
The pricing for Monowear’s Apple Watch bands runs from $59 to $119. That makes them both more expensive and less expensive than the official Apple Watch bands which range from $49 to $449.
But Monowear’s pricing seems about right to me. There are definitely cheaper bands to be found online (some in the $25 range, for instance), but what’s the point of getting a fairly expensive watch and dumbing it down with a crappy band? In that case you might as well grab a watch from Walmart. Monowear’s pricing respects the Apple Watch (or maybe it’s the idea of the Apple Watch that it respects).
If you’re looking for a change of scenery on your wrist, if you’re a very style-conscious person, if you simply crave variety in all aspects of your life or if you want to make your Apple Watch stand out from those of your friends, consider purchasing a new band from Monowear.
On the other hand, if you prefer to keep your Apple products paired with official accessories, Monowear’s bands might not be for you.
Have you given Monowear’s bands a try yet? If so, let me know what you thought. If not, let me know why not!