We seem to have a happy band of Apple Watch fanciers among Macfilos readers, so I’m always on the lookout for a new angle. A few months ago I bought the Apple Watch 5 in stainless steel with the matching link bracelet. I absolutely love it. I thought the cellular Watch 4 model was the bee’s knees, but this one is a real knees-up.
One of the things I like about the Apple Watch is that it exudes quality. I no longer look enviously at owners of Rolexes or IWC Pilot Chronographs. They are fine, of course, but the Watch is something else: a watch for the 21st century: High quality but unostentatious.
It started as a watch, just as the iPhone started as a phone. But it has morphed into a wearable computer that is indispensable, not least for its health-tracking capabilities. The iPhone, of course, is no longer primarily a phone. It is a handheld computer that entertains, informs and organises.
While I love the appearance of the Watch 5 and metal link band, there are occasions when a more traditional leather strap is warranted. Fortunately, changing bands on an Apple Watch is a 10-second affair and it is quite feasible to choose a band to match the mood of the day.
Since I like fine things — as you will have noted from my story on William Hannah’s superb notebooks and my incessant waffling about Leica — I have been looking for a likely supplier for some time.
Quite by chance, I came across a company that is the veritable Leica of the watch-strap world: BandWerk. As you can infer from the “Werk” rather than “work” this is a good old German company. It’s based not in Wetzlar but near Munich. Perhaps that’s how they make such wonderful leather straps: they’ve recycling all the old Lederhosen. Joking aside, these straps are designed to appeal to all lovers of fine accoutrements and don’t look a bit like a pair of cast-off shorts.
I had to choose the top-of-the-range Zürich range, of course. I opted for Cordovan light-brown leather at a cost of €119. I did resist the alligator version which costs all of €279. Mind you, I did check out the special version made from the seats of an old Porsche Targa. More inspiring than discarded Lederhosen, perhaps.
There are cheaper ranges — Paris, Stockholm — down to Berlin at €79 which is probably a good call. While I haven’t handled them, I can only assume the material is not quite as thick, nor the finish as cosseting as the old smoothies from Zürich. But they are probably all delightful and certainly easier on the pocket.
When you see the Zürich strap, however, you will not think it expensive. The leather is faultless in appearance, the stitching perfect and the thickness of the leather is impressive. I feel this strap will be good for many years. Certainly, it should outlast the current format of the Apple Watch.
Since I am always worried about a normal strap buckle coming loose and losing a watch, I added the butterfly clasp for a reasonable €19. It turned out to be extremely well engineered and the steel marches the finish of the watch (there are variants for all Apple’s finishes).
My only comment is that achieving an initial adjustment to fit the wrist is something of a fiddle. BandWerk supply a tool to compress the tiny spring pillars in the clasp, but, even so, it takes some organising. Once adjusted, though, you may never need to change it again.
Stiff, but wearing in
Initially, this strap is very stiff and I found it quite difficult to close the butterfly clasp and insert the end of the strap into the retaining loop. However, after a week everything has become much easier and it is now no more difficult to operate than the clasp on the metal bracelet.
The leather will also mature with age (that’s the good thing about leather) and is already moulding well onto my wrist. It is now just as comfortable as the metal band. Incidentally, at the moment BandWerk is offering a free metal Milanese loop strap with your order in a choice of silver, black or gold.
This Bandwerk Zürich strap would enhance a £10,000 Swiss watch, never mind an Apple Watch. If you want to treat your wrist for Christmas, go for it.