My Extensive World-First, Hands-On Apple Watch Model and Band Ranking

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by MICHAELSD, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. MICHAELSD, Apr 10, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015

    MICHAELSD macrumors 68040


    Jul 13, 2008
    So fortunately my local Apple Store was nowhere near as packed to capacity as expected, and they let me and a buddy try out all the watches and bands as well as the combos we wanted without a time restraint, so I have a pretty extensive opinion of each model and brand. Let me preface by stating that the Apple Watch and most of the bands look even better in person. In fact, it looked far better than expected.

    So, let's get into it:

    Apple Watch Models

    Apple Watch Sport (silver) - This was a real surprise for me. The Sport looked absolutely amazing in person. The aluminum finish is such a lovely clean finish that, to my delight, differs from the finish on the iPhone, iPad, etc. I was expecting a watch that feels like a generic aluminum Apple product but this is truly a gorgeous aluminum watch. The black on the face is bold: the OLED display makes it melt into the Watch. On the aluminum model, the contrast between the silver body and deep black watch face was striking. Even without taking the display into consideration, I genuinely like the way this watch looked off. Wow, I am much more impressed with the aluminum Sport than I was expecting.

    Apple Watch Sport (Space Grey) - The finish on the Space Grey model was just as nice as the silver but frankly I found the silver design to be much more lively. What really sealed the deal for the silver to me was the contrast between the display and the silver body. While some may prefer the Space Grey's more subtle clean look, the silver model looked substantially better than in pictures while the Space Grey looked more or less as expected.

    Apple Watch (silver stainless steel) - This may come as a surprise but I did not love the stainless steel design. In fact, after seeing the aluminum finish if they were priced the same I would still be purchasing the aluminum model. Frankly it reminds me of a higher quality, hopefully significantly more scratch-resistant version of the iPod Classic's back. The displays between both looked and felt the same, although the sensors on the stainless steel model were slightly shinier and looked a bit more appealing. The stainless steel model is too reflective for my taste, and doesn't ooze luxury in the way I felt the Sport body shockingly did.

    (The Edition and Space Black models were unavailable for testing at the store I visited although I will be trying the Edition in NY prior to the launch so I will add my opinions on the Edition as well.)

    I would rank the models in the order I listed them. Frankly prior to testing them I would've likely had a reversed order, but the silver aluminum looked stunning; meanwhile, I didn't care for the use of stainless steel on the entire body (I'm sure some will but I'm not a huge fan) and the Space Grey was too dull for my taste although some will appreciate the darker tone than Apple usually labels as Space Grey. I do think the fit and finish of the Sport model will surprise most customers.

    My ideal Apple Watch would be a silver aluminum body with a stainless steel crown and button and perhaps a touch of stainless steel accents.

    Apple Watch Bands

    Listed in order of Apple's web-site (ranking will be provided below):

    Sport Band - Looks are deceiving for the band, and it is no wonder Apple did not call this rubber. The feeling of the Sport band is simply quality. It does not feel like a cheap rubber watch band in the slightest. In fact, comparing the quality to a $200 retail price Fossil Starck watch with a similar-looking band the difference is night-and-day. Even the clasp is elegant. Yet another surprise. Very few people will be disappointed with this high-quality band that feels unlike any other I've ever used.

    Classic Buckle - I am not sure where Apple went wrong with this one, but this is by far the worst-looking band. It is in stark contrast to the rest, which are genuinely quality works of upscale art. This is the only band I walked away with a negative opinion of. Especially in comparison to the rest of the high-end bands, this felt like a Chinese knockoff to put it bluntly. While all the other bands have an ingenious clasp design, this one feels low-quality and poorly-designed. Apple should retire this and keep it a classic.

    Milanese Loop - Luxurious on every level. The build quality on this is absolutely superb. This is one band where the price is easily-justifiable: it is instantly apparent how well-made this band is. The precision in the woven metal showcases beautiful craftsmanship. Even the magnetic design of the clasp is extremely well-done, leading to a feeling that the designers spent a good deal of time perfecting it. This band solidifies the Apple Watch as a premium product, and is a centerpiece for the quality of Apple's band design.

    Leather Loop - Seeing and trying this in person completely changed my opinion of it. This looks and feels like it belongs on an expensive timepiece. The leather is extremely high-quality, and the band feels like a cushion rather than a tough-feeling leather band as I have become accustom to on mid-range watches. If luxurious leather is your top priority, this should be your top pick.

    Modern Buckle - This pleasant band option provides an air of subtleness to the Watch. It is the least ostentatious offering, yet oozes quality. The clasp design is also very convenient, and much-improved over the Classic Buckle. For those going for a simple look, this provides it with more elegance than expected.

    Link Bracelet - While the design and craftsmanship are ingenious, this was also the least comfortable and second less-luxurious feeling on the wrist (behind the Classic Buckle) of the bunch. Don't get me wrong: it is apparent that this is an extremely well-crafted stainless steel band but it lacks the lightness of the other bands, though the slight heft some long-time watch users may find a virtue. This is exquisitely-crafted metal with a quality and price in the high-end range, but the other bands seem to make more sense on-the-wrist as providing all-day comfortable bliss for the Apple Watch. Nonetheless, it is incredible how the band is sized through buttons on the inside and if you are looking for the tiniest bit of bulk then this is an excellent choice that is on par with watches in the ~$1000+ range.

    My personal ranking in terms of comfort, craftsmanship, and overall preference after trying all the bands:

    • Milanese Loop
    • Leather Loop
    • Sport Band
    • Modern Buckle
    • Link Bracelet
    • Classic Buckle
    Yet again, this would have been in a completely different order before I received intimate time with every single band on my wrist.

    It should be noted that comfort seems to be a priority on all bands, and excepting the stainless steel link band the Watch felt comfortable on a luxurious level that it felt like a feather on the wrist. Also of note is that my buddy and I were in agreement that the Space Grey Sport Watch does not mix-and-match nearly as well as the silver. While the Milanese combination on the Space Grey sounded like a good match beforehand, it looked significantly better on the silver Sport Watch. In fact, this was my favorite combination aesthetically. The Space Grey/Space Black looks best with darker bands, of which there are fewer options. The stainless steel Apple Watch is complemented well by all band options.

    For those concerned about swapping bands: it is incredibly easy. The entire process takes under thirty seconds with all but the Link Bracelet. After only a few switches, it is apparent that these were designed to be a breeze to remove and attach in seconds.

    Following my profound (at least compared to every other consumer at this point :cool:) try-on of nearly every Apple Watch model as well as every band, I have become extremely happy with my choice of a silver 42mm Sport Watch and plan to purchase the simply exquisite Milanese band at some point in the future. The Watch is an incredibly high-end product with a design that is loftily-elevated in person, made even more opulently-prominent by a selection of bands that feature fantastic workmanship and justify the cost.
  2. AdonisSMU macrumors 603

    Oct 23, 2010
    I think the Aluminum Silver Sport Watch looked cheap and like standard geekwear. But that's why we have choices! I'm glad you found one you liked. :D

    I loved the Stainless Steel Watch. I couldn't get over it! :p
  3. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jul 13, 2008
    Wow, an hour after accidentally published I finished the ranking. Enjoy the time-consumer :cool:.
  4. jeepik macrumors 6502

    Oct 2, 2009
  5. DravenGSX macrumors 6502a

    Aug 20, 2008
  6. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    Although I do agree the SS looks very nice (couldn't justify the price difference myself), I don't think the silver aluminium looks geeky. Personally, the Space Grey exudes 'geekiness' much more than the silver one.

    I really don't get the love for the Space Grey - I don't like it at all personally. Oh well, at least we have options!
  7. gsmornot macrumors 68030


    Sep 29, 2014
    My appeal for the Space Gray is the lack of flash. I like the idea of low key so that I can enjoy the tech without others noticing right away I'm wearing an Apple Watch.
  8. ChinaRye macrumors 6502


    Aug 7, 2007
    Washington, DC
    Thanks for the review! My first choice of band was the classic buckle, but now I think that I would pick the milanese loop (after I try on at the Apple Store first!):D
  9. Cascadians macrumors member

    Nov 24, 2009
    Thank you for taking the time to try on all the options and write an intelligent thorough review.
  10. staticz macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2014
    Did you put the milanese loop on the sport watch? You say that would be your pick, how was the contrast in materials?
  11. dhy8386 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 13, 2008
  12. zmunkz macrumors 6502a


    Nov 4, 2007
    Thanks for the thorough review, particularly of the bands
  13. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jul 13, 2008
    This was the one combination I have had in my mind for the past few weeks, and let me tell you... once the milanese loop was attached to a silver Sport Watch per my request multiple employees stopped what they were doing to check it out. I loved the way the silver design flowed effortlessly onto the milanese loop design. It looked meant to be IMO.

    As for the Space Grey Sport, the silver milanese loop was too much of a contrast and did not look as meant-to-be as the silver Sport.

    It seems like I have been establishing a trend with the Milanese Loop Sport model.
  14. richard371 macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    Considering you get 316SS, Sapphire, and a ceramic back all for $200 that's not a bad deal.
  15. bunnicula macrumors 68040


    Jul 23, 2008
    I prefer the SS sheen to the matte of the aluminum, but I'm glad to hear that the Milanese goes well with both.

    I preordered the SS with the Milanese and I can't wait to go try them on tomorrow.

    Thanks for such a thorough review!
  16. twylie macrumors newbie

    May 21, 2010
    Good review. I just got back from my try on appointment and was pleased with how it went. Didn't feel rushed and got the try on pretty much every strap as well as a couple of the Sport models. The Milanese loop is amazingly flexible & comfortable for a mesh band. Apple's attention to detail and design on the link bracelet and hardware was something that will be welcomed by watch enthusiast.

    It's an amazing piece of hardware and design, no doubt. Still not sure if it will ultimately replace my mechanical watches though. For someone that wasn't a watch wearer before, I'd think it's a no brainer.

    I was in the store for about a half hour and saw at least 5 luxury watches on people that were demoing the :apple:Watch. Breitling, Omega, (2) Rolex, and BlancpaiN. Not sure if they were just watch geeks or would consider replacing their watches.

    I ordered a Sport/Green as well as a black sport band. If it ends up replacing a mechanical on my wrist, I'll look at one of the SS ones later or v.2.
  17. Scrub175 macrumors 6502


    Apr 25, 2012
    Port St Lucie FL
    Thank you for taking the time to write this up. I purchased the 42 silver sport white band. I just like the look of the silver sport, and the sport band options are really wide open. Plus the look and dress seemed to just match up very well with this choice. I'm not looking to portray dressy high class with the watch. I just wanted something that worked being active or wearing at work as well. The silver sport really answered all the questions quite stunningly in my book.
  18. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jul 13, 2008
    Wanted to add this note after comparing the Sport and SS Watch further:

    Unequivocally, the stainless steel Watch is a sidegrade: simply another option that is not superior to the extent to be considered an upgrade (or at all, in my opinion). As I made clear in my original write-up, I was not drawn in by the reflective surface of the stainless steel and still do find the aluminum Sport model the more appealing option asthetically. Of course the sole pro over the Sport is the SS Watch model's Sapphire display, but that is not enough to justify a $200 premium... or any premium at all for that matter.
  19. kinster macrumors 6502a


    Nov 6, 2006
    Good write up. But the Milanese is awful in my opinion. Reminds me of Knight armour.

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