"Made for Apple Watch" certified third party bands?

MrUNIMOG

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Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
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Hamburg, Germany
Back in 2015, Apple set up an official "Made for Apple Watch" program for third party watchbands. It can be found here: https://developer.apple.com/watch/bands/

The official watchband lugs to use for making such certified bands are offered through an authorized distributor: https://mfi.avnet.com/lug/index.html#/home

However, 2 years later I still cannot find any third party watchbands that are "Made for Apple Watch" certified, even though there are lots of third party watchbands and even companies solely dedicated to Apple Watch bands.
 
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ZipZap

macrumors 603
Dec 14, 2007
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Why bother with certified?

You either buy from Apple of use eBay/Amazon for knockoffs. I have many knockoffs that are great for waaaay less.
 

Mabus51

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Aug 16, 2007
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I used to work for Avnet. I don’t think we actually ever produced those lugs. I remember hearing them announce it a few years ago, and then nothing but silence.
 
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MrUNIMOG

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Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
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Why bother with certified?

You either buy from Apple of use eBay/Amazon for knockoffs. I have many knockoffs that are great for waaaay less.
I'm not talking about knockoff bands, but high-quality third party bands with their own design. I'd really like to buy certified ones.
 
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broadbean

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Jun 10, 2007
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There's plenty of "branded" bands now, including Belkin, Incipio, Nomad, probably plenty more.
 

broadbean

macrumors 6502a
Jun 10, 2007
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But none of them, branded and expensive or not, seem to be "Made for Apple Watch".
I'm really curious, what is it in your mind about "Made for Apple Watch" you are specifically looking for? Note the only things I believe Apple has enabled through this program are: Watch lugs to suit the 38mm and 42mm Watch cases, and a screwdriver bit. I'm not sure if the Watch Charger itself is under this MFI program.

And the nature of using lugs is meaningless when it comes to straps that do not use these lugs, including Apple's own Sport Bands, Sport Loops, Woven Nylon,Leather Loops, Milanese Loops and Link Bracelets.

In fact, the only Apple Watch bands with these lugs are the Leather Classic Buckle and Modern Buckle.

But if you insist, I would think there's a better than average chance the following brands do:

Hermès
Coach
 

MrUNIMOG

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
530
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Hamburg, Germany
I'm really curious, what is it in your mind about "Made for Apple Watch" you are specifically looking for? Note the only things I believe Apple has enabled through this program are: Watch lugs to suit the 38mm and 42mm Watch cases, and a screwdriver bit. I'm not sure if the Watch Charger itself is under this MFI program.

And the nature of using lugs is meaningless when it comes to straps that do not use these lugs, including Apple's own Sport Bands, Sport Loops, Woven Nylon,Leather Loops, Milanese Loops and Link Bracelets.

In fact, the only Apple Watch bands with these lugs are the Leather Classic Buckle and Modern Buckle.

But if you insist, I would think there's a better than average chance the following brands do:

Hermès
Coach
It seems like those lugs aren't required unter the "Made for Apple Watch" Program (I'll just call it MFAW), but recommended only for bands that use metal lugs. For other bands, Apple gives guidelines for the materials to use.

It's not that I don't trust brands like Belkin (although I'm very displeased with the haptic quality of their Thunderbolt 3 cable compared to similarly priced Apple cables) to make good watchbands that fit the Apple Watch case perfectly, It just bothers me that the MFAW-Program has been around for years now and still no company made use of it. Whereas with iPhone cases, most major manufacturers have them MFi-certified by Apple.

As for the Hermès Bands, I wouldn't really consider those "third party", just as the Nike+ ones.

The Coach Bands don't seem to be MFAW certified.
 

xDKP

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Feb 27, 2011
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I'm really curious, what is it in your mind about "Made for Apple Watch" you are specifically looking for? Note the only things I believe Apple has enabled through this program are: Watch lugs to suit the 38mm and 42mm Watch cases, and a screwdriver bit. I'm not sure if the Watch Charger itself is under this MFI program.

And the nature of using lugs is meaningless when it comes to straps that do not use these lugs, including Apple's own Sport Bands, Sport Loops, Woven Nylon,Leather Loops, Milanese Loops and Link Bracelets.

In fact, the only Apple Watch bands with these lugs are the Leather Classic Buckle and Modern Buckle.

But if you insist, I would think there's a better than average chance the following brands do:

Hermès
Coach
I think I'm in the same boat... I have tried a LOT of different third party bands from eBay/Amazon as you mention and it's all crap...

Great brands with great quality leather etc. is often not a Amazon product
 

broadbean

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Jun 10, 2007
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It seems like those lugs aren't required unter the "Made for Apple Watch" Program (I'll just call it MFAW), but recommended only for bands that use metal lugs. For other bands, Apple gives guidelines for the materials to use.

It's not that I don't trust brands like Belkin (although I'm very displeased with the haptic quality of their Thunderbolt 3 cable compared to similarly priced Apple cables) to make good watchbands that fit the Apple Watch case perfectly, It just bothers me that the MFAW-Program has been around for years now and still no company made use of it. Whereas with iPhone cases, most major manufacturers have them MFi-certified by Apple.
I'm aware Apple drop tests cases before offering them on the Apple Store online, but I'm pretty sure MFI refers mainly to hardware with an electrical component, especially with Lightning. I'm not aware of any such MFI products for cases. Have you seen any?

As for the Hermès Bands, I wouldn't really consider those "third party", just as the Nike+ ones.

The Coach Bands don't seem to be MFAW certified.
I think you're chasing unicorns. Not everything Apple implements makes sense. This Made for Apple Watch kinda did - for about a month, over two years ago.
 

MrUNIMOG

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
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Hamburg, Germany
I'm aware Apple drop tests cases before offering them on the Apple Store online, but I'm pretty sure MFI refers mainly to hardware with an electrical component, especially with Lightning. I'm not aware of any such MFI products for cases. Have you seen any?
You're right, apparently MFi doesn't apply do cases. I confused that with those "Made for iPhone" Badges third party case manufacturers put on their packaging.
 

ZebraDude

macrumors 65816
Sep 7, 2014
1,117
505
Naperville, IL
Juukdesign.com are not MFI certified but the bands are of amazing quality, fit and finish. I own 3 of the AL bands and really dress up my AL Apple Watch.

Ps. I am not the owner or stockholder just a very happy customer. They do have some of their bands on Amazon.
 

Farrellcollie

macrumors 6502a
Apr 23, 2011
512
161
I have a nice leather band from pad and quill. I used it on my first watch and just transferred to my apple watch 3. It is well made and is still going strong. I don’t know about apple certified -but the lugs are just fine.
 

applewatchcollector

macrumors member
Sep 23, 2017
94
85
OP is specifically asking about Apple's official program for Watch metal lugs, available to third-party band manufacturers. Since they are more expensive, and therefore increase the cost of bands, most manufacturers opt for cheap knock-offs.

The only bands I'm aware of that are "Made for Apple Watch" (though they were NOT overtly publicized as such) are the TOMS bands which were limited edition in late 2016 but are being re-issued via Target in the next couple of months.

I have all of the 42mm TOMS bands in my possession and can confirm they all have the connectors from Apple's official MFI Watch lugs supplier. And yes, the TOMS bands are more expensive, as a result.

Personally, I can tell the difference in the quality when wearing the TOMS bands (versus others, say from ClockWork Synergy, etc.) - they are simply sturdier and sit flush with the Watch - and wish more third-parties were willing to take on the cost and use official lugs. In fact, when I acquired the TOMS watches I didn't know were official lugs. I was so surprised by their quality (compared to my other third-party bands) I had to do the research to find out what TOMS was doing differently.

If there's interest in these bands, I'm happy to dust off photos for you.
 

broadbean

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Jun 10, 2007
775
325
Personally, I can tell the difference in the quality when wearing the TOMS bands (versus others, say from ClockWork Synergy, etc.) - they are simply sturdier and sit flush with the Watch - and wish more third-parties were willing to take on the cost and use official lugs.
Good for you. The only Apple Watch band I have is the official (2nd gen?) leather Classic Buckle. It slides in nicely, but it’s not perfect even tho it does sit flush. But compared to my $10 Milanese Loop clone, it’s not that much better. Maybe it’s not as smooth when sliding in, but otherwise just as flush and sits just as well.

But my point is, virtually none of my other bands use this lug, nor does Apple’s - apart from (most, not all of) their leather range and Hermès.

Nor did Apple ever offer any other color apart from silver Stainless Steel - no love for Space Black.
 

MrUNIMOG

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 23, 2014
530
342
Hamburg, Germany
OP is specifically asking about Apple's official program for Watch metal lugs, available to third-party band manufacturers. Since they are more expensive, and therefore increase the cost of bands, most manufacturers opt for cheap knock-offs.

The only bands I'm aware of that are "Made for Apple Watch" (though they were NOT overtly publicized as such) are the TOMS bands which were limited edition in late 2016 but are being re-issued via Target in the next couple of months.

I have all of the 42mm TOMS bands in my possession and can confirm they all have the connectors from Apple's official MFI Watch lugs supplier. And yes, the TOMS bands are more expensive, as a result.

Personally, I can tell the difference in the quality when wearing the TOMS bands (versus others, say from ClockWork Synergy, etc.) - they are simply sturdier and sit flush with the Watch - and wish more third-parties were willing to take on the cost and use official lugs. In fact, when I acquired the TOMS watches I didn't know were official lugs. I was so surprised by their quality (compared to my other third-party bands) I had to do the research to find out what TOMS was doing differently.

If there's interest in these bands, I'm happy to dust off photos for you.
Thanks a lot! That's exactly what I was looking for. And even priced very reasonably!

I hope they'll soon be available at the TOMS online store with shipping to Germany.
 

applewatchcollector

macrumors member
Sep 23, 2017
94
85
Yeah varying degrees of quality when it comes to the third-party lugs. Anecdotally, out of the 350 bands in my collection, the 150 or so Apple-manufactured ones are definitely on the more flush side with the non-metal lugs being the least consistent (e.g. on one of the Woven Nylons the bottom half of the band fits my Aluminum Watch perfectly but simply won’t lock into a Stainles Steel ‍♀).

I am somewhat paranoid as few months ago I sourced some Space Black lugs from AliExpress to put on some two-piece NATO bands. After a very bumpy 11 mile run I took my Aluminum Watch off the Nike+ band and put it on one of the aforementioned bands with the SB lugs. Within the next few feet as I was slowly crossing the street my Watch came crashing to the ground, shattering the screen. One of the lugs had broken without any stress on it whatsoever. Even with AppleCare it cost $75 to replace the Watch. I promptly threw all those lugs into the trash. I still use third-party lugs but stick to the ones from Amazon that are twice the price but I’ve not had any issues with (so far).

If Apple was sensible enough to make the lugs available for cheaper and in greater variety of colors then it would really help both third-party band manufacturers and consumers as at least one would hope there would be greater quality control in the market.

Good for you. The only Apple Watch band I have is the official (2nd gen?) leather Classic Buckle. It slides in nicely, but it’s not perfect even tho it does sit flush. But compared to my $10 Milanese Loop clone, it’s not that much better. Maybe it’s not as smooth when sliding in, but otherwise just as flush and sits just as well.

But my point is, virtually none of my other bands use this lug, nor does Apple’s - apart from (most, not all of) their leather range and Hermès.

Nor did Apple ever offer any other color apart from silver Stainless Steel - no love for Space Black.
 
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broadbean

macrumors 6502a
Jun 10, 2007
775
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I still use third-party lugs but stick to the ones from Amazon that are twice the price but I’ve not had any issues with (so far).
There are also different designs - some third party ones are compatible with standard spring pins, while Apple's has pretty much three points of failure instead of two...
 

slideleft

macrumors newbie
Oct 16, 2017
4
4
Marin County, California
Hi All,
New here so go easy.
This subject has been relevant to me and so this thread showed up in a Google search. I'm in the process of making a titanium band (technically "bracelet" in watch world if made of metal) for the Apple Watch. My design is such that in addition to the links and clasp (deployant), I will be machining my own lug for the watch interface. Given Apple's control tendencies, it's a bit surprising, but they actually make public a non dimensioned dxf of the profile (all splines). Anyways... though not easy (eg; inner details of button pocket require use of a .5mm endmill), this part is machinable in two operations on a 3-axis CNC machine.
That all said, the challenge for me has been to source quality parts integral to the lug- namely two very small sheet metal stampings (see photo). These I can't/don't want to make. I've purchased and dissected the buttons from an Apple band and the best quality aftermarket I could find. Here is where the primary differences in lugs lie. The parts are dimensionally very close, but Apple uses a non magnetic stainless steel, whereas the aftermarket uses some sort of plated mystery steel (including the four miniature springs). As a result, I think it safe to say, with time and moisture, corrosion to these delicate parts could cause the button to fail. That might not be an issue for a relatively inexpensive band, but it would be for my design (price not yet determined).
The bummer is... Avnet is a huge company and so not easy to make small requests from (no answer from emails). Even if meeting their 25 minimum, one can't simply purchase complete lugs from them with a credit card. No, I was sent four separate documents- credit application (3 pages), my intended use, Apple terms of use, my company details. Time will tell if I succeed in jumping through their hoops, and if so, when I receive them (parts come from China). I'll keep you posted.
Jeff
 

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ZebraDude

macrumors 65816
Sep 7, 2014
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Naperville, IL
Hi All,
New here so go easy.
This subject has been relevant to me and so this thread showed up in a Google search. I'm in the process of making a titanium band (technically "bracelet" in watch world if made of metal) for the Apple Watch. My design is such that in addition to the links and clasp (deployant), I will be machining my own lug for the watch interface. Given Apple's control tendencies, it's a bit surprising, but they actually make public a non dimensioned dxf of the profile (all splines). Anyways... though not easy (eg; inner details of button pocket require use of a .5mm endmill), this part is machinable in two operations on a 3-axis CNC machine.
That all said, the challenge for me has been to source quality parts integral to the lug- namely two very small sheet metal stampings (see photo). These I can't/don't want to make. I've purchased and dissected the buttons from an Apple band and the best quality aftermarket I could find. Here is where the primary differences in lugs lie. The parts are dimensionally very close, but Apple uses a non magnetic stainless steel, whereas the aftermarket uses some sort of plated mystery steel (including the four miniature springs). As a result, I think it safe to say, with time and moisture, corrosion to these delicate parts could cause the button to fail. That might not be an issue for a relatively inexpensive band, but it would be for my design (price not yet determined).
The bummer is... Avnet is a huge company and so not easy to make small requests from (no answer from emails). Even if meeting their 25 minimum, one can't simply purchase complete lugs from them with a credit card. No, I was sent four separate documents- credit application (3 pages), my intended use, Apple terms of use, my company details. Time will tell if I succeed in jumping through their hoops, and if so, when I receive them (parts come from China). I'll keep you posted.
Jeff
It sounds like you are into a quality bracelet.

I know of another guy in Hong Kong that is real into quality juukdesign.com.
 

slideleft

macrumors newbie
Oct 16, 2017
4
4
Marin County, California
It sounds like you are into a quality bracelet.

I know of another guy in Hong Kong that is real into quality juukdesign.com.
Thanks for that ZebraDude,
While I can appreciate that Juuk's product appears to be of higher quality than other mass produced Asian bands, I'm actually going after the watch aficionado market. Like my jewelry, they will be produced in-house at my Northern California studio, in small numbers, one at a time. There is a LOT of work to making them, and a very rough cost estimate is somewhere in the $1500-$2000 range. They are clearly not for everyone, but for those with money, that appreciate uniqueness and quality, they should be pretty cool.
 

JSway

macrumors regular
Sep 9, 2016
239
130
Thanks for that ZebraDude,
While I can appreciate that Juuk's product appears to be of higher quality than other mass produced Asian bands, I'm actually going after the watch aficionado market. Like my jewelry, they will be produced in-house at my Northern California studio, in small numbers, one at a time. There is a LOT of work to making them, and a very rough cost estimate is somewhere in the $1500-$2000 range. They are clearly not for everyone, but for those with money, that appreciate uniqueness and quality, they should be pretty cool.
It may help if you buy a TOM watch band for your project ($50). I believe they use Made for Apple Watch adapters, and are easy to find at Target. I’m curious if they use the same screwdriver as the screws on the Apple Classic buckle.
 

slideleft

macrumors newbie
Oct 16, 2017
4
4
Marin County, California
FWIW department-
While waiting to see if Avnet approves/ships my Apple lugs, I took the advice of JSway and bought a Toms band from Target. Looks like after getting their initial publicity for using "Official" lugs, they decided they could improve profit margin by switching to cheap ones (see photo below). These are definitely not Apple, and actually look/are cheaper than the first aftermarket Chinese lugs I bought. It's sad. And... I have to go back to one of my least favorite stores to return it.
Jeff


upload_2017-10-24_13-2-12.png
 
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JSway

macrumors regular
Sep 9, 2016
239
130
FWIW department-
While waiting to see if Avnet approves/ships my Apple lugs, I took the advice of JSway and bought a Toms band from Target. Looks like after getting their initial publicity for using "Official" lugs, they decided they could improve profit margin by switching to cheap ones (see photo below). These are definitely not Apple, and actually look/are cheaper than the first aftermarket Chinese lugs I bought. It's sad. And... I have to go back to one of my least favorite stores to return it.
Jeff


View attachment 727144
Wow sorry for the recommendation. I was honestly under the impression they used Apple adapters for their bands. I know the only other brand that does use Apple adapters but it’s on the expensive side is: https://ullushop.com/. They actually advertise it.
 
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