Apple Watch: watch cases and bands
We’re less than 60 to 90 days out from the Apple Watch release date, meaning you can’t try on the iPhone-compatible wearable just yet.
In fact, there are 34 different Apple Watch choices and nine default watch faces with millions of customizations, according to Apple’s official website.
Here’s every Apple Watch face, band and case announced so far, giving you extra time to decide which "iWatch" should be your watch before waiting in line.
Cases: Apple Watch vs Sport vs Watch Edition
All Apple Watches boast the same rectangular design with rounded off corners, but they’re divided up into three different "collections" based on build materials.
Starting at $350 (likely north of £230, AU$450), the names Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition, don’t tell us a whole lot about those differences, so let’s explain each watch case.
Donning 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.
Protecting the precious Retina display is sapphire crystal, which is the same glass that covers the Touch ID home button of newer iPhones.
Sapphire crystal is touted as the hardest transparent material on earth next to diamond. It’ll stand up to dings every time your formerly-bare wrist forgets what it’s like to wear a watch.
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 Watch, but Apple’s 7000 Series aluminum and Ion-X glass makes it 30% lighter.
Watch Edition will be the most expensive Apple Watch because its 18-karat gold case. It may even be locked inside a safe within your local Apple Store.
It’s been crafted by Apple’s metallurgists to be twice as hard as standard gold, says to the Cupertino company, and will come in two colors: yellow gold and rose gold.
Complimenting those cases are color-matching bands made of leather or fluoroelastomer plastic. Bands are the next step in decided on the right Apple Watch.
Six different bands, 19 colors
Apple Watch is all about personalization with six band types and 19 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 it looks to be a whole lot easier to switch out compared to the irksome hidden pins of the Moto 360.
I’m okay with that. I want the sport band at the gym and the Milanese loop for a night on the town without the hassle of digging into the watch case with a pair of tweezers.
Available with the regular Watch, the link bracelet is one of two stainless steel Apple Watch bands. This one matches the 316L stainless steel alloy of the case.
It has more than 100 components, says Apple, and the brushed metal links increase in width as they approach 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.
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 Watch, the Milanese loop is truly one of a kind in that it only comes in a stainless steel color.
Modern buckle (leather strap)
A modern buckle adorns the bottom the first of three leather options 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 soft pink, brown or midnight blue for the regular Watch and bright red or rose gray for the premium Watch Edition, all meant for the smaller 38mm watch size.
Apple Watch: More bands, sizes and watch faces
Classic buckle (leather strap)
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 derived from the Netherlands and the color choices are as simple as can be: It comes in black for the regular Watch or midnight blue for Watch Edition.
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. Apple says its Venezia leather sources from Italy.
Apple Watch buyers who go with the leather loop band have three colors choices: stone, light brown and bright blue.
Despite its name, the sport band is an out-of-the-box option among all three "collections," 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. Hopefully it’s easier to buckle than the 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 sizes
Less exciting, but equally important is the choice of among 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 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 faces
There are nine 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, something we were fond of when testing out Android Wear smartwatches.
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. I can do that here.
Analog watches like Chronograph, Color, Simple and Utility can be swapped in for their more professional looks.
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.
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, according to the company.
Apple Watch wrap-up
With two sizes for most band designs, six band types, 19 band colors and three cases with two colors each, there’s a lot of choice going into this smartwatch purchase.
Apple Watch is launching with a lot of personalization, echoing a time when the Cupertino firm introduced variety among its iMac G3 computers and iPod successors.
Which case and band combination I get is ultimately going to depend on price and availability, details we should know a lot more about come April.
- Check out the best Apple Watch apps to come