The Apple Watch is a curious thing. It’s sold in a number of versions at a range of price points, but the technology inside is pretty much the same no matter which model you buy. To the untrained eye, they all look largely identical. Sure, the entry level watch has an anodised aluminium case with Ion-X glass and the most expensive has an 18-karat gold case and a Sapphire crystal but you’d have to be a very keen eye to pick why there’s such a dramatic price difference.

No matter which one you get (whether you should have one or not is a discussion for another article) most of the time they look like a black slab of glass on your wrist. As a battery saving measure, the watch’s display is only lit when you raise your wrist. This useful feature also saves you from having popcorn thrown at you at at the cinema by people like me. The cinema is no place for backlit devices, kids. Stay vigilant.

The real difference is the bands. The entry level Apple Watch Sport comes with a positively dire rubber “Sport” band that makes it look like you put your parole-mandated tracking device on your wrist because it was chafing your ankle. From there you move up to the woven nylon bands (the $A79 Pride Edition is fetching), through the $A229 Leather Classic Buckle (naff), all the way to the $A1069 Hermès Leather Double Buckle Cuff (easy there, Kanye).

I’ve worked out how to make my Apple Watch useful to me (remote triggering of your iPhone camera is more handy than you’d think, and not in a creepy way), but I quickly became tired of and a little embarrassed by the black rubber Sport band that it came with. So I bought a white rubber one. It was just as awful, but white.

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Apple’s dreary black Sport band and three of my woven nylon Apple bands. They get a bit dirty, by the way. Clean them with a stiff brush and warm soapy water. Or don’t. Up to you.

So when Apple started releasing multi-coloured nylon bands, I started buying them. I figured if the watch itself wasn’t particularly stylish, then the bands around it might as well do some sartorial heavy lifting. My watch bands started changing to match my clothes — the quick-release mechanism for Apple Watch’s bands makes this as easy as changing a belt — and in short time I had a selection of Apple’s most colourful straps.

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Monowear’s Nylon Strap on my beaten-up 42mm Sport, on a shirt that makes me look like a lumberjack.

Then Autumn seeped into Winter and all these brightly coloured bands no longer suited the season. I decided to look around online for something a little more appropriate to winter suits and the annual Ross Floate Festival of Tweed. This festival runs for ten months of each year and is a crowd favourite. Naturally I looked first at Apple’s bands, but as mentioned before they’re pretty naff. Ok if you’re an actual grand-dad, but not if you’re ironically trying to pull off the grand-dad look.

 

Searching for bands online took me to plenty of websites that made me worry about my credit card just by looking at them. Though reviews online of third-party bands tended to focus on them being “ok” but not great, the name Monowear kept coming up favourably.

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The Monowear Leather Deployant, rampant on a sea of tweed. Yes. Rampant.

The Monowear range includes a variety of styles (Metal! Ceramic!), but I was drawn to their $US 34.99 Nylon Bands and their $US 59.99 Leather Deployant bands. The nylon band makes me seem like I know how to use a compass (which I actually do) and the Deployant makes it appear like I know something about watches (I don’t even know what deployant means). I’ve taken to wearing the Deployant during the week, the Nylon at weekends and for more casual events. The Apple bands are in the bottom of my underwear drawer until Spring, I suspect. They had better be lint-proof.

The quality and detailing on both bands is at least the equal of Apple’s offerings, and the Nylon band especially is a step far beyond at around half the price. Even taking into account the more rugged styling and hardware, it just feels like a robust product. Apple’s woven nylon bands don’t.

Shipping to Australia was quick — within a week of ordering. Even with those costs added, you could now have two new bands, one leather, at around half the price of one Apple leather band. So now I do.

Monowear’s bands are available at retail stores in Europe and the United States, and on their website for people who don’t leave the house or who live on the other side of the planet. Like me. 

 

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