Apple's newest premium Apple Watch band is the unique Leather Link that stays secure with magnets encased in genuine leather, and it is a great choice for affordable luxury.
When Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 6, it announced several new band types. We saw the introduction of the liquid silicone Solo Loop as well as the similarly-designed Braided Solo Loop. While those were new one-piece bands, Apple also showed off the two-piece Leather Link.
The Leather Link was leaked earlier this year, and we've been thinking about it ever since. We've been a fan of Apple's leather bands in the past, using the Leather Loop for years, but the new band had a different design that intrigued us.
We couldn't decide how we fully felt about the band prior to trying it out. The pills looked a bit too funky and we were worried it would look rather silly when actually worn.
After wearing the band the last several days, not only did we find our initial thoughts were wrong, but this may now be our new favorite Apple Watch band.
Leather Link Design
The new Leather Link is a new style of band for Apple with a unique two-part structure compared to the standard Leather Loop. Beyond the yellow California Poppy and traditional black that we're looking at here, it also comes in Baltic blue, and Saddle brown.
Each side of the strap is made of two pieces of leather with several magnets sandwiched between. The long side of the strap wraps over the small side to securely hold the strap on your wrist. In our time with the band, it never came loose. It requires quite a bit of force to separate the bands when pulled away from one another, but they pull apart easily when one edge is peeled from the other.
There are both 40mm and 44mm sizes of the Leather Link, and they fit all generations of Apple Watch, including older 38mm and 42mm sizes.
Leather Link fit and comfort
The Leather Link band comes in two sizes — small/medium and medium/large. My measurement was roughly in the middle, allowing both sizes to fit my wrist. For the Solo Loop, I measured exactly on the line between a seven and an eight on the guide. For the Leather Link, I chose the medium/large size at the risk of it not overlapping enough and being less secure.
It's clear after wearing it that I could have chosen the small/medium and been just fine. The longer strap wraps almost entirely over the smaller one with only three links not covered. If I were to choose again, I'd go with the small/medium.
Regardless of the size, the band is extremely comfortable. If you have the Milanese loop or even the Sports Band they tend to get cold quickly in the air. The leather is a much warmer band to wear which is nice as we head to into the chilly months.
The Leather Link is also a great band to wear to bed if using sleep tracking on your Apple Watch. It is comfortable enough on your wrist, but also soft if you happen to sleep with your hand or arm under your head.
Day-to-day the band has been one of the most comfortable ones we've worn. It is subtly flexible and can be adjusted very minutely to exactly where you need it. Becuase there is no buckle, it is very comfortable resting your wrist on a hard surface while wearing it, for instance, in a typing position.
Compared to the Leather Loop
Apple's Leather Link has always been a popular high-end option for Apple Watch, but it had some drawbacks. While it could compare apart into two pieces, the loop design could make it a little tricky to take on or off. It also didn't work well with flat Apple Watch chargers — such as the ill-fated AirPower.
The Leather Link band comes into two parts which ensure compatibility with a wider range of chargers, though it can still be tricky to put on due to the magnets jumping to one another prematurely.
Aside from the two-part design, the Link Band magnets do not go edge to edge, giving off a rounded pill-like appearance to each of the magnets. As we mentioned above, I initially was skeptical of this look but wearing it, it looks much better than we anticipated.
Should you buy the Leather Link band?
There are some Apple bands that feel quite expensive without any real reason. The typical Sports Band comes to mind. $50 for what feels like almost the same as third-party ones off Amazon.
But in an effort to find a more cost-effective Leather Loop, we've tried a few from other sources, and every time there was a stark difference. In other bands, the leather was harder, the magnets weren't as strong, or the edges frayed after limited use. It reinforced that for some bands, Apple's quality is best.
We've used our leather loop since it was introduced, and it looks great — other than a couple of bite marks from our cat at one point which is an occupational hazard of pets and leather goods. We've cleaned it from time to time using a typical leather cleaner and it remains as stylish as the day we bought it.
At the moment, there are no third-party equivalents of Apple's Leather Link band but when the copycats do arrive, we have no doubt that Apple's will be markedly superior.
When looking at Apple's lineup of Apple Watch bands, the Braided Solo Loop, while nice, does not seem to have the same value as the Leather Link. If we wanted a premium band for our Apple Watch, the new Leather Link would be our new go-to choice.
This band looks fantastic on, has great quality, and we know it holds up over time based on our usage of Apple's other leather bands. Even the California Poppy color that we figured would be too yellow, actually comes off as more of a caramel tan and looks perfect.
Obviously the Leather Link won't be for everyone, hence Apple's massive lineup of various bands and colors, but it absolutely won us over. We'll be back to revisit this review in a few months with pictures of wear and weathering.
- Unique design
- Held by magnets and creates no thick buckle
- Premium look and feel
- Great colors
- Easy to put on and off
- Works with all chargers
- Better value than Braided Solo Loop
- Only four colors