One of the most interesting innovations that the Apple Watch brought, in my book, is the method for attaching bands to the main unit. Rather than loop materials through a spring-loaded pin inserted into the ears of the watch body, you simply slide the band into place and it locks there. To remove it, there is a button on the underside which releases the band and allows you to easily slide them out of the socket. No more tweezers, magnifying glasses, and having the pin eject itself into the carpet. I have hated changing watchbands my entire life, owing to the same method my grandfather and father used to attach them. I think due to this sudden ease of band swapping, many Apple Watch owners have become “bandinistas,” collectors and obsessive swappers of bands. Recently, we Gadgeteers were given the assignment of testing and reviewing the X-Doria mesh band for Apple Watch in black stainless, so I asked for the assignment and received it just a few days later. I’ve been wearing it exclusively for about three weeks now.
Note: Photos may be tapped or clicked for a larger image.
The packaging for the band is very much “not Apple.” It’s a clear plastic clamshell with a hanging cardboard sleeve. Easy to open, and very tossable. But inside, there is a nice, shiny, supple metal mesh that, for all the world, looks and feels like the Apple Milanese band. Or it does at first glance.
For the record, I bought a Milanese stainless band from Apple (MSRP $150 – not what I paid) about three months into having my Apple Watch. It’s been the only one I’ve been wearing since then. Probably the biggest reason for this is that the band is impossible to remove from your wrist without either removing it from the watch or passing it over your hand. It is a closed loop, so if I’m riding my bike or mowing the lawn and keep holding onto the handlebars, it won’t slip off my arm. The Sport Band separates into two distinct pieces, and, under duress, could fall off your arm. The X-Doria band, like the Apple Milanese models, do not separate. Since I’ve had it on, I’ve noticed some slight oddities that I never had with the Apple band. The links seem to be made of a slightly smaller gauge of wire. In the photo with the two on edge, you can sorta see it, but it’s a very slight difference. When wearing it, you can feel it, but I don’t think you’d notice it without having worn the “official” model first. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but just something to note. The second thing is a little stranger: the magnetic clasp on the Apple band doesn’t catch on metal items while you’re wearing it. I’ve noticed that the X-Doria band tends to be attracted to metal items when they brush past, and I never noticed it with the Apple band. I did some tests, and the Apple band refuses to “grab” onto metal items from the underside. The other band clings the same from either side. I tried this on 3-4 different items of varying weights (paper clips, scissors, a utility knife, etc.), with the band on my arm and without, and Apple has somehow managed to dampen the magnetic field on the outside of the clasp. With the metallic stands I have on my desk, I have tended to notice it a bit. Again, not a big deal, but noticeable.
I just took both bands out to the kitchen, and found that the Apple model weighs 40 grams, and the X-Doria weighs only 38g. So it’s not just my imagination. The X-Doria mesh feels a little “stickier,” most likely due to the black coating, rather than the raw stainless of my Milanese. I’ve not been to an Apple Store to check if the new Space Black Milanese model from Apple (MSRP $200) feels different in this way. It probably has a little of that coated feeling, as well.
Happily, I’ve not noticed any scratching or flaking of the black color, and I do like how it goes with my Space Grey watch better than the regular raw stainless. For 25% of the price, I feel the X-Doria is well worth the investment if you’re wanting to get a good mesh band for your Apple Watch. If you don’t tell anyone, they’ll think you dropped $200 on the black model. Who’s to argue?