Apple Watch Band Review: California Poppy Leather Link and Atlantic Blue Braided Solo Loop

I’ve got an Apple Watch band jones. Over the past few years, I’ve found it enjoyable to have a range of bands in different colors and materials. Almost all my bands are original Apple products, because when I’ve tried third-party bands, they just aren’t as good.

Last year, I was quite excited about the Meyer Lemon Leather Loop Band, because I tend to like colors that stand out against my wrist and the watch. I’m not that interested in stodgy colors like black and brown, and my favorite bands are red, blue, and new yellow(ish), though I still like the original Milanese Loop that I bought early in the life of the Apple Watch.

So this year, I have two new bands: one leather, and one of the new solo loop claspless bands. Let’s start with the California Poppy Leather Link. If you look at my review of the Meyer Lemon Leather Loop Band, you’ll note that my initial appreciation of the band was tempered over time as it showed wear. While it’s very comfortable, and easy to adjust, it’s not a leather designed to last.

The new leather link band is different in a couple of ways. The leather itself is more finished; the previous model’s leather was more like suede, and the new leather has a smoother finish. This should wear better over time.

It’s also a lot easier to put on: with the previous model, you had to slip the end of the band through the loop, but now the band is in two parts, and one overlaps magnetically to the other. It’s easy to put on, and easy to adjust, and the magnets are very strong; perhaps they should have called this a MagSafe band.

California poppy

The magnets are much wider than the previous model, which makes this band a bit stiff, though it should probably loosen up over time. It’s also quite heavy: at 44g, it’s almost as heavy as my stainless steel Apple Watch (47g). But it feels good, it has heft, and if you wear it a bit loose like I do, it doesn’t move around as much as a sport band.

And the color is nice: it’s not a bright yellow, but the color is sort of between that of a lemon and an orange; it goes well with my gold stainless steel watch.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Braided Solo Loop. This new type of band has no clasp, and you have to size it correctly. Given the current situation, many people won’t want to go to Apple Stores to try them on, so sizing as difficult. Some people find that after sizing it using Apple’s tool, the band they got was too large, others too small. I initially ordered one that was too tight and returned it, and since I had to go to an Apple Store to pick up my watch, I tried on various sizes, and settled on the right one. (For me, it’s the largest: size 12.)

Again, it depends on how you like to wear a watch band. Some like to wear bands fairly snug, others fairly loose. I’m generally in the latter camp, but with this band, I want it to fit just exactly right. For me, it should not be loose enough so the watch moves around, nor should it be tight enough to leave a mark on my wrist.

Braided solo

If you do get it right, you may find, as I have, that it the most comfortable Apple Watch band I’ve every worn. It’s very light – only 12g in my size – and it breathes, so it’s easy to forget. If you have an aluminum Apple Watch, which weighs 30.5g for the 40mm model and 36.5g for the 44mm model, you’ll barely feel the band and watch. With a heavier, stainless steel watch, this band will make it lighter than an aluminum watch with sport loop. (My M/L sport loops weigh 30g.)

At $99, these bands are both expensive, and one could certainly say that they are overpriced, but I find them nice additions to my collection of Apple bands.

1 thought on “Apple Watch Band Review: California Poppy Leather Link and Atlantic Blue Braided Solo Loop

  1. Getting to see a photo of the California Poppy band in real world conditions was super helpful. Made my decision of “which case with which band” that much easier. Thanks!

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