About Cheap Imitations of the Real Thing

I have had an Apple Watch for several years now. I’m on my second one. I owned the original version and then I upgraded a couple of years ago. During that time, I have had a half-dozen bands for my watch. I also occasionally used bands that my wife decided she no longer wanted to wear. I have had the Sport Band, the Sport Loop, the Woven Nylon band, and the Nike+ Sport band. I have also had a band I ordered on Etsy. Without a doubt, the most expensive and worst band was the one I ordered from Etsy. All of the Apple bands have been perfect. I wore them until they got too dirty or I didn’t want them anymore.

People seem to love criticizing Apple for being overpriced. I will admit they are expensive, but I don’t think their products – particularly their watch bands – are overpriced. You get what you pay for: a quality product that, 99% of the time, will be free of problems or defects.

This weekend my wife received three different watch bands that she ordered from third parties. One was a knock-off of the Milanese Loop band. One was a version of the Nike+ Pride Edition Sport band. The last was a nylon band that she bought because Apple refuses to make anything purple (what’s up with that, Apple?). All three of these bands were 20% to 50% of the price of their Apple-branded equivalents. And they were all terrible.

Let’s start with the faux Milanese loop. The color was not consistent with the images of the product online. The edges of the metal band were occasionally rough and uncomfortable to the skin. The magnetic clasp had a strange way of making the band bunch up, so it needed to be straightened out before putting on the watch.

Then there was the imitation of the Nike+ Pride Edition Sport band. This one was a disaster. The colors were not even close – nothing like the picture on the website. What should have been yellow was a neon green. The construction was shoddy. In places where two pieces of rubber had been connected, the seams were coming apart. The band was also weak around the buckle area.

The purple nylon band might have been the most well made and attractive of the three. And yet, where the band had been folded over near the attachment point to the watch, the ends of the nylon would scratch the skin. Apple’s (unfortunately discontinued) woven nylon band didn’t have any folding of the band, so there was no part that would dig into your skin.

There are so many vendors selling Apple Watch bands online. I imagine some of them are okay. There must be some that are better than what my wife and I saw this weekend. But the next time I need a band, I’ll just get one from Apple. The certainty of knowing you’ll get a quality product is worth money.