Apple Watch bands: Sport vs Watch vs Edition
Apple Watch is on the wrists of its first wave of customers, meeting its release date, but picking one has been no easy decision. There are 38 different designs with varying bands, sizes, cases and prices.
There are three cases: the aluminum Sport, stainless steel Watch and gold Watch Edition. Where it gets complicated is in the number of interchangeable bands.
Good news for anxious early who were undecided or "iForgot" the pre-order. Although tremendous first Apple Watch sales pushed shipping estimates back to July, it'll be in Apple Stores starting in June.
With 38 iPhone compatible smartwatch versions - way more than the three colors of the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and new MacBook - here's every Apple Watch band and case, at least until Apple Watch 2 comes out.
- Looking for the best third-party Apple Watch bands? Check out our favorites here.
Apple Watch Sport bands: Sport
Sport is the the lightest of the three Apple Watch choices thanks to its anodized aluminum case that still manages to be 60% stronger than standard alloys.
It skips out of the expensive sapphire glass in favor of what Apple calls strengthened Ion-X or aluminosilicate glass. This further reduces the weight, making it fit for active lifestyles.
Sure, the iPhone-matching matte space gray and silver aluminum case appears less shiny vs the stainless steel Watch, but Apple's 7000 Series aluminum and Ion-X glass makes it 30% lighter.
It's the least expensive Apple Watch at $349 (£299) for the 38mm size and 42mm for the $399 (£339) size. The first official sales numbers may be announced at Apple's WWDC 2015 on June 8, but early estimates indicate it was the most popular version.
Apple Watch bands: Stainless steel
Ordering the "regular" Watch puts a highly polished stainless steel case on your wrist, one that comes in glossy metal colors of either space black or stainless steel.
Sapphire crystal is touted as the hardest transparent material on earth next to diamond. It stands up to dings every time your formerly-bare wrist forgets what it's like to wear a watch.
The cost jumps to $549 (£479, AU$799) for the Sport Band, while the Apple Watch price for leather and stainless steel bands go up from there.
Apple Watch bands: Watch Edition
Watch Edition is the most expensive Apple Watch pre-order starting at $10,000 (£8,000) due to its 18-karat gold case meant for VIPs. It'll reportedly be locked inside a safe at your local Apple Store.
It's been crafted by Apple's metallurgists to be twice as hard as standard gold and comes in two colors: yellow gold and rose gold. Sparing no expense, Apple throws in an exclusive charging stand. How thoughtful.
Complementing those cases are color-matching bands made of either leather or fluoroelastomer plastic. These special Apple Watch bands can't be ordered separately online.
That said, bands are the next step the Apple Watch buying process.
Apple Watch bands: 6 bands styles, 18 colors
Apple Watch is all about personalization with six band types and 18 colors, all of which are easily interchangeable thanks a unique slide-out locking mechanism.
Yes, it's a proprietary watch strap - did you expect anything less? - but the interchangeable bands are a lot easier to switch out compared to the irksome hidden pins of the Moto 360.
I'm okay with that. I ordered the Sport band to wear at the gym and the Milanese Loop for nights on the town, and I won't have the dig into the watch case with a pair of tweezers to change it up.
Apple Watch bands: Sport band
Despite its name, the Sport band is an out-of-the-box option among all three cases, not just the Apple Watch Sport.
The band is made of smooth fluoroelastomer, so it's resilient for all activities and fastens with a simple pin-and-tuck closure. And thankfully it's easier to buckle than the notoriously difficult Fitbit Charge.
The Sport band is available in the most colors on the Sport Watch: white, black, blue, green or pink. Regular Watch and Watch Edition buyers can choose between black or white.
Apple Watch bands: Link bracelet
Available with a regular Apple Watch, the Link bracelet is one of two stainless steel bands. This one matches the 316L stainless steel alloy of the case.
It has more than 100 components and the brushed metal links increase in width closer to the case. A custom butterfly closure folds neatly within the bracelet.
Best of all, you can add and remove links with a simple release button. No jeweler visits or special tools required for this stainless steel or space black-colored strap.
Apple Watch bands: Milanese Loop
One of the classiest-looking Apple Watch bands is the Milanese Loop, a stainless steel mesh strap that loops from case to clasp.
Emphasizing that woven metal design, there's hardly a clasp. Its tiny magnetic end makes the strap infinitely adjustable and tucks behind the band for a seamless look on one's wrist.
An out-of-the box option with the regular Apple Watch pre-orders, the Milanese Loop is truly one of a kind in that it only comes in a stainless steel color.
Apple Watch bands: Modern buckle (leather)
A modern buckle adorns the bottom of the first of three leather pre-orders among Apple Watches, complete with top-grain leather sourced from France.
The French tannery is said to have been established in 1803, but Apple puts a tech-savvy twist on the buckle. It's a two-piece magnetic clasp that only looks ordinary when together.
This leather option comes in black, soft pink, brown or midnight blue for the regular Watch and bright black, red or rose gray for the premium Watch Edition, all meant for the smaller 38mm watch size.
Apple Watch bands: Classic buckle (leather)
If the Apple Watch modern buckle is a normal-looking watch band with a magnetic twist, then the classic buckle is an ordinary-looking variant without one.
No tricks here. It's just a traditional and secure band that feeds through a stainless steel or an 18-karat gold loop and matches the watch case.
The classic buckle's leather is from the Netherlands and the color choices are as simple as can be: it comes in black for the regular Watch or either black or midnight blue for Watch Edition.
Apple Watch bands: Leather loop
This is the leather-equivalent of the all-metal Milanese loop because it tucks magnets into the soft, quilted leather Apple Watch band.
The more pronounced pebbled texture also stands out from the subtle finishes of the modern and classic buckle. Its Venezia leather sources from Italy, according to Apple.
Apple Watch configurations with this leather loop band have four color choices: black, stone, light brown and bright blue.
Apple Watch sizes
Less exciting than the bands, but equally important among the choices are the Apple Watch sizes. There are two case heights: 38mm and 42mm.
This opens it up to smaller and larger wrists. The 38mm size is more compact, but having that little bit extra screen space by way of the 42mm option may go a long way. It does raise the Apple Watch price.
It should be noted that a few bands appear to be exclusive to certain sizes: the modern buckle is limited to the 38mm option and leather loop the 42mm size, for example.
No right-handed and left-handed Apple Watch decisions need to be made at the Apple Store, thankfully. This smartwatch is ambidextrous because the screen can be flipped.
Apple Watch pre-order price
Now that you know everything about the design, it's time to focus on the Apple Watch price range because this is no easy purchase at any rate.
Even the entry-level Apple Watch Sport is expensive at $349 (£299, AU$499) for the 38mm version. For bigger wrists, it's $399 (£339, AU$579) for the 42mm variant.
A stainless steel Apple Watch costs $549 (£479, AU$799) or $599 (£519, AU$879) with the rubberized Sport band. Adding leather or an all-metal band costs anywhere from $649 (£559, AU$949) to $1,099 (£949, AU$1,629).
And the 18-karat gold Apple Watch price range is $10,000 (£8,000, AU$14,000) to $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000), complete with VIP treatment.
- You can find out more in our Apple Watch price range breakdown
Apple Watch faces
There are ten different default faces from Apple, according to its official website, and likely a lot more to come from third-party developers currently testing out WatchKit.
The great thing about smartwatch faces is that none of them are permanent when you order Apple Watch, something we have been fond of when testing out Android Wear smartwatches.
- Debate: Apple Watch vs Android Wear comparison
Mickey Mouse is my favorite because I never got a Mickey Mouse watch as a kid. But maybe that'll be reserved for Disneyland visits now that I'm an adult.
Analog watches like Chronograph, Color, Simple and Utility can be swapped in for a more professional look that rivals today's best smartwatch alternatives.
Customizable watch faces
Digital watch faces all have something unique to offer. Motion adds a bit of animal-inspired movement in the background, solar lets you follow the sun's path based on your location and the time of day and astronomy lets you explore space and a rotatable 3D Earth.
- Faces and more: Apple Watch video tour
Modular, the grid-like ninth watch face, really defines what Apple means when it talks about complications. Most faces can be alerted to include pressing information like stock quotes, weather reports or your next calendar event.
A new addition, X-Large is an Apple Watch face that the company added after its March launch event. Hopefully truly custom watch faces come out of Apple's WWDC 2015 keynote on June 8.
Apple Watch bands wrap-up
With two sizes for most Apple Watch bands, six band types, 18 band colors and three cases with two colors each, there's a lot of choice going into every smartwatch order.
Apple Watch has launched with a lot of personalization, echoing a time when the Cupertino firm introduced variety among its iMac G3 computers and iPod successors.
The case and band combination I went with was Sport with a white rubber band, ultimately determined by the Apple Watch price.
Such a new product is bound to be outdated in several months to a year and a half by Apple Watch 2, so I played it safe.
The Milanese loop, backordered for one month, arrived sooner than Apple had expected. I began donning it just two weeks later, all in all, for less money than a stainless steel Apple Watch.
- Check out the Apple Watch review for our final verdict