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Choosing your Apple Watch: Case and band combinations demystified

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After deciding on a case size and material, choosing a band is the most important part of buying a new Apple Watch. Apple uses case and band combinations to stratify the wearable's pricing, so AppleInsider took a look at the options.


  • Every Apple band will fit every Apple watch of the same case size, but not all bands are available separately and some are only sold in a single case size.
  • Sport bands with gold hardware are only bundled with Edition models and can't be bought separately.
  • The same goes for the classic buckle with gold hardware, but the Edition also gets an exclusive midnight blue classic buckle.
  • The space black link bracelet is not sold separately and is only available with the space black stainless steel Watch.
  • The leather loop is only compatible with 42-millimeter cases.
  • The modern buckle is only compatible with 38-millimeter cases.
  • Rose gray and bright red modern buckles with gold hardware are only available with the Edition.
  • If you want a dark Watch, you'll have to buy a space gray Sport or the $1,000+ space black stainless steel Watch.
  • For band sizing, Apple provides a helpful guide.

The Bands

Apple offers six types of bands for the Watch: the sport band, the leather loop, the classic buckle, the milanese loop, the modern buckle, and the link bracelet, in ascending order of cost.

The sport band is made of fluoroelastomer (rubber), and can be had in black, white, pink, blue, or green. A small metal peg slots through a hole to serve as the clasp — for most bands, the peg is silver, but the black band is available with either a silver or space gray peg.

All of the sport bands are available in both 38-millimeter and 42-millimeter versions, and can be purchased individually for $49. Notably, purchasing a sport band will actually net two bands — one small-medium band and one medium-large band, with the lengths varying depending on the case size.

There is one exception to the sport band rule: the Edition models can be purchased with black or white sport bands that come with color-matched gold pegs, and these bands can't be bought separately.

The leather loop ($149) is made of Italian leather and utilizes a unique fold-over clasp system, with magnets embedded into the links. The entire band — including the lugs — is made of leather, with the exception of a metal ring around the slot where the band folds back over itself.

It can be purchased with stone, light brown, black, or bright blue leather in either medium (for wrists measuring 150 to 185 millimeters) or large (for wrists measuring 180 to 210 millimeters).

Unfortunately, there is no leather loop band for 38-millimeter cases. Buyers hoping to dress up a base-model Sport Watch with a leather loop band will be forced to go for the 42-millimeter case.

The classic buckle ($149) is available in black leather with stainless steel hardware for both 38-millimeter and 42-millimeter cases. The 38-millimeter model fits wrists between 125 and 200 millimeters, while the 42-millimeter model fits wrists between 145 and 215 millimeters.

As with the sport band, the Edition Watches come with color-matched classic buckles that cannot be purchased separately. The Edition also gains an exclusive midnight blue classic buckle with gold hardware.

The milanese loop ($149) is made entirely of woven stainless steel mesh and sports a fold-over magnetic closure much like the leather loop. It's available for both 38-millimeter and 42-millimeter cases, with the 38-millimeter model fitting wrists between 130 and 180 millimeters while the 42-millimeter model fits wrists between 150 and 200 millimeters.

The modern buckle ($249) uses a stainless steel magnetic locking clasp and can be purchased with soft pink, brown, black, or midnight blue leather in small, medium, and large sizes. Small fits wrists between 135 and 150 millimeters, graduating to 145 to 165 millimeters for the medium band and 160 millimeters to 180 millimeters for the large band.

Again, the Edition gets special treatment with the modern buckle. Rose gray and bright red color options are exclusive to the Edition, and each features color-matched gold hardware — these are actually the most expensive models in the Apple Watch Edition collection, fetching $17,000 a piece.

Finally, the link bracelet ($449) is made entirely of stainless steel and features a double-button deployment clasp. It's available for both case sizes, with the smaller 38-millimeter version suitable for wrists between 135 and 195 millimeters, compared to the 140 to 205 millimeter range for its larger sibling.

In the case of the link bracelet, the stainless steel Watch is the benefactor of a special setup. A diamond-coated space black link bracelet is paired with the space black steel Watch, and is not available for purchase separately.

The Combinations

So, what does this all mean for you when choosing a Watch? Essentially, the more expensive or exclusive the band is, the more expensive your Apple Watch will be — and if you want a band that isn't offered as part of a bundle, you'll have to purchase it separately.

The Sport collection can be purchased with any color sport band ($349 for 38 millimeters, $399 for 42 millimeters) — though the black band is only offered with the space gray body — and two different band sizes will be included in the box. Any other Apple Watch band will fit, provided it's offered for your case size.

The Watch collection can be had with black or white sport bands ($549/$599); a black classic buckle ($649/$699); a milanese loop ($649/$699); a black, midnight blue, soft pink, or brown modern buckle (38-millimeter only, $749); a black, bright blue, stone, or brown leather loop (42-millimeter only, $699); a stainless steel link bracelet ($949/$999); or a space black link bracelet with matching space black stainless steel case ($1,049/$1,099).

The Edition collection is available in rose gold with a white and gold sport band ($10,000/$12,000); yellow gold with a black and gold sport band ($10,000/$12,000); rose gold with a rose gray and gold modern buckle (38-millimeter only, $17,000); yellow gold with a black and gold classic buckle (42-millimeter only, $15,000); yellow gold with bright red and gold modern buckle (38-millimeter only, $17,000); or yellow gold with midnight blue and gold classic buckle ($15,000).