If you want an Apple Watch with a steel link band, you only have a couple options from Apple. You can buy the watch with the band for a hefty $949 (at least) or you can buy a Link Bracelet separately for a still-hefty $449. You can save a little with the separate band if you get the Apple Watch Sport and then pair it with the Link Bracelet. But what if you want a black watch? Your only option here is the Space Black Apple Watch, which starts at $1049. The black Link Bracelet is not available separately. Not from Apple, anyway.
Enter Monowear Design’s Black Metal band for Apple Watch. At a much more reasonable $119, this might be just the ticket for those of us without money burning holes in our pockets. Like Apple’s Link Bracelet, the Monowear is made of stainless steel links. The adaptor that attaches the band to the watch is available in a choice of three finishes: matte silver, polished silver and matte dark gray. The finish appears to be quite nice; the images on Monowear’s site show a good match for the darker Apple Watch cases. The clasp is also a more traditional style than Apple’s butterfly design, which may appeal to some folks.
The appeal here is twofold: one, you can actually buy this band, as opposed to Apple’s black Link Bracelet, which requires the purchase of a Space Black Apple Watch; two, the substantial price difference. This band is a whopping $330 less than Apple’s Link Bracelet (and the plain stainless steel version is even cheaper!). You could get a complete watch package for less than $50 more than Apple’s Link Bracelet by itself. Or, another way of looking at it: you could grab a Space Gray Apple Watch Sport and pair it with the darker link band around $500, half the price of the Space Black Apple Watch. This substantial savings can, of course, be put towards even more bands for your snazzy watch.
Now, obviously, a savings like that is going to come with a few caveats. First and foremost is going to be quality. While the Monowear band looks quite nice, and is still not altogether cheap at a cost of over $100, Apple has really pulled out all the stops on the Apple Watch and its accessories. The official Link Bracelet is machined so precisely it takes nine hours to make a single band, owing to the tapered links. It is then brushed by hand for that fantastic look and feel Apple is known for. It is highly unlikely you are going to find this same attention to detail in the cheaper option. Frankly, Apple’s band is just plain sexy, and for many that will be reason enough to shell out the cash. The quality of the material used is also likely to suffer at least a bit.
In addition, the Apple band has a unique closure that may appeal to some buyers. More importantly, the Apple band features a quick-release mechanism for adding and removing links that should make a normally tedious process significantly easier and may save you a trip to a jewelry shop. Another knock is that if you actually have the cash, the Apple Watch that comes with the Space Black Link Bracelet is made of nicer materials than the cheaper Space Gray Sport model, and is only available paired with this band. Since the black Monowear band would make the most sense paired with a dark watch, this seems to be the major decision: quality and craftsmanship versus cost.
For a lot of people, the Space Black Apple Watch will be well worth the money and they won’t even consider a third-party option. A lot of folks take their watches seriously, after all. But for many, the cost just won’t compute; for this crowd, the Monowear Black Metal band makes a lot of sense. You can get a nice, classic look at a fraction of the price. This, for a lot of buyers, is priceless.