Buying a full-price Sport Band for my Apple Watch ($49) is probably one of the dumbest financial decisions I’ve ever made. Sure, it’s a nice band, and I did want a workout-ready alternative to the fancy Milanese Loop I picked out when I bought the first-gen Apple Watch in 2015. But I just bought another sport band that’s equally nice—in fact it seems downright identical—on Amazon, for less than $10.
Then I bought two more bands, a nylon strap and a lovely red leather band, and still came in under $48, shipped. Obviously I’m never buying a band at the Apple Store again.
Made for Apple Watch?
Yes, Amazon and other online retailers are packed with reasonably priced Apple Watch bands, both original designs and knockoff versions that look virtually identical to the bands Apple sells. This isn’t news—Apple opened up the Apple Watch band market to third parties shortly after shipping the watch, but the Made for Apple Watch program differs from the MFi program for AirPlay and Lightning accessories. Apple simply sells the stainless steel lugs that connect a band to the Apple Watch to any interested third party, but doesn’t approve the actual designs.