Don't send bands in with Apple Watch repairs — because you won't get them back
If you've broken your Apple Watch, make sure you've removed the band and taken off any protective cases, because Apple is now clear that they won't be returned when they send back your watch.
Apple has formally updated its advice to users on how to prepare an Apple Watch to be sent for repair, and now specifies that extra items, such as bands, will not be returned. Previously, the official advice was that you don't need to include them, but now you are explicitly asked to "please remove them."
AppleInsider sources report that Apple's prior approach was to bundle together any items sent alongside a Watch, and return them when practical. Bands would not be re-attached, but they would be sent back to the user together with the repaired watch.
Now the advice on how to "Get Your Apple Watch Ready for Service," has updated and formalized what happens.
"Your Apple Watch band and any other accessories that you send won't be returned," says the updated support document, "so please remove them before sending your Apple Watch in for service."
It also singles out one type of band for special mention. "If you have a Link Bracelet band," it says, "remember to separate the links before you remove the band."
This is specifically about mailing in an Apple Watch in for repair yourself. When Apple Stores re-open, the situation for taking a Watch in to a Genius Bar appointment has not changed. In that case, you will still be asked to bring your power cables and any adapters you use — but you'll still have to remove the watch band at some point.