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Best Apple Watch Bands, According to the CNET Staff Who Wear Them

With the Apple Watch Series 9 on the way, here are our picks of the best Apple Watch bands.

James Bricknell Senior Editor
James has been writing about technology for years but has loved it since the early 90s. While his main areas of expertise are maker tools -- 3D printers, vinyl cutters, paper printers, and laser cutters -- he also loves to play board games and tabletop RPGs.
Expertise 3D printers, maker tools such as Cricut style vinyl cutters and laser cutters, traditional paper printers Credentials
  • 6 years working professionally in the 3D printing space / 4 years testing consumer electronics for large websites.
James Bricknell
4 min read

With the release of the new Apple Watch Series 9 and the announcement that Apple will no longer use leather in its own bands, third-party watch straps are about to become even more popular. There's already a huge market for Apple Watch bands, but how do you know which ones are good or bad?

Here at CNET, we're often at the cutting edge of tech, so there are a lot of us with Apple Watches of all generations. I polled the CNET team to ask them what their favorite watch bands were, and why we like them so much.

CNET team members use plenty of different straps in their day-to-day lives, and we all have our favorites. Some of us like things to be super simple, while others like a lot of variety and patterns. But all the bands on this list are of excellent quality and suit our purposes well.

Read moreBest Apple Watch Series 9 Preorder Deals

Apple Watch with a gray sport strap

I've tried out a lot of different Apple Watch straps, and I've always liked the look and feel of the Nike Sport Band. But this one beats even that. It has a slightly less sporty and more rugged look, and the materials feel premium and like they're designed to hold up well. It comes in a few different color options, but I've yet to remove the Marine Blue one since I got it.

The clasp holds nice and secure, so I don't really have to worry about my watch falling off. I've been using this band for a few months now and recommend the product to everyone. I've received more compliments about the band than I can remember. Nomad makes some really high-quality accessories for Apple gear, and this is no exception.

--Jared DiPane

Leather watch strap on an apple watch laying on an iPhone 14
James Bricknell/CNET

While the Bluebonnet straps are not the cheapest around, they are made with genuine French leather, and perfectly match the minimalist wallets and cases the company makes. If you want to coordinate your wrist, wallet and phone, these are the way to go. My wife adores them for her Apple Watch and I'm sure you will too.

--James Bricknell

Rainbow watch band on a wrist in front of a bicycle
Russell Holly/CNET

I've used just about every fitness watch strap made by Apple and third parties, but I always come back to the standard Apple Sport Band. It isn't the most comfortable band I've ever worn, but it's the easiest to clean by far, and the colors haven't faded at all, despite my constant use in sunlight.

--Russell Holly

An applw watch with leather straps on pebbles
John Falcone/CNET

I'll be honest: I picked this strap pretty much at random because I liked the weathered, faux leather earth-tone look in the photo -- and the incredibly low price. But six months later, I'm really liking it. It's comfy, and it's held up nicely, despite a couple of unintended dunkings. What more could you want for such a low price?

--John P. Falcone

Apple watch with an orange band with geometric patterns
Sarah Mitroff/CNET

I need my Apple Watch band to be completely unfussy. I don't want to fiddle with buckles -- I just want to slip on my watch and go. This inexpensive band is perfect for just that. It's a single strip of elastic without any sliders or anything else to adjust. It's soft and stretchy enough to hold the watch firmly against my wrist so that the heart rate monitor sensors work correctly, without being too tight.

I can vouch only for the styles where the design is woven into the band (not the solid color or printed options). I first bought the Neon Orange color, and that's the one I still use today. I bought a second band, the solid Wine color option, and it's stiff and scratchy by comparison.

--Sarah Mitroff

Green protective case around an apple watch with matching strap

When I'm not using the above-mentioned Nomad Sport Band, my other go-to Apple Watch strap is the Spigen Rugged Armor. The style is totally different, but as someone who's into G-Shock watches, I absolutely love the way this one looks and feels. Instead of sliding the band in on each side, you snap your Apple Watch into this, and it provides protection for the sides of the watch as well.

It comes in a few different colors, and I think right now I own them all. It doesn't make the buttons any harder to press either, which is a huge advantage. If you're someone who's rough on your Apple Watch, this is a great option to consider.

--Jared DiPane

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