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Review: Sena’s Leather Apple Watch Case Easily Transitions From Home Dock to Travel Accessory

Though there are now hundreds of Apple Watch chargers and stands on the market, Apple is only selling a handful in retail locations – those that are designed with a clean aesthetic that matches the feel of the company’s products. The latest Apple-endorsed Apple Watch charging solution comes from Sena, and will be in Apple Stores in mid-November.

Sena’s Leather Watch Case, which is actually available from Sena’s website beginning today, is a hybrid stand and case product that can be used for charging, storage, and travel purposes.

The Leather Watch Case is designed to look like a traditional watch case that might come with any luxury watch. It’s similar in size to the box that comes with the stainless steel Apple Watch, with a round exterior covered in a quality black European leather and a microsuede-covered interior for the Apple Watch to rest on. It only comes in black, which might not be appealing to all users, primarily those with silver, gold, and rose gold Apple Watches.



As with most Apple Watch charging accessories, the Leather Watch Case requires you to supply your own Magnetic Charging Cable, but it does include a cord wrap to keep the cable hidden from view. There are four pieces to the Leather Watch Case, which snap together magnetically: a leather-covered bottom base, a plastic cord wrap that fits inside the base, a microsuede interior piece that houses the Apple Watch charging puck, and a leather-covered lid with a padded microsuede interior that fits over the whole thing to protect the Apple Watch when on the base.



Assembling the Leather Watch Case was a simple enough process that consisted of fitting the charging puck into the microsuede holder, guiding the cord through the cord wrap and out the base, and fitting all of the pieces together.

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Review: Sena’s Leather Watch Case gives horologists a luxe platform for the Apple Watch

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Horologists, it is said, are very different from casual watch users. They actively collect watches, protect them, and care about small design and functional details in ways average people would shrug off. Apple designed the Apple Watch to appeal to everyone, but it proudly chased horologists with both software features (customizable faces/complications) and industrial design elements, winning the attention of some serious collectors in the process.

Moreso than most of the best Apple Watch docks and stands I’ve covered, Sena’s new Leather Watch Case ($80) is really a horologist’s accessory, not made for the average Apple Watch user. It’s a bespoke leather box designed to do little more than hold the Apple Watch inside, primarily for travel but alternately as a nightstand or desktop dock. Like many of Sena’s other luxurious leather products, you may not find it in a local store, and it may specifically appeal to a narrow niche of people with a lot of spare money. But it’s undeniably well-made — the product of judicious use of black grain leather, a gunmetal accent ring, and hidden magnets. Read on for the details…

Key Details:

  • 3.6″-diameter luxury leather travel case/dock for Apple Watch
  • Seals magnetically to protect Watch while in transit
  • Great use of materials, including hidden magnets
  • Expensive given the simple functionality, but still nice

senawatchcase-5Roughly 3″ tall and 3.6″ in diameter, the Leather Watch Case arrives as a set of five pieces: an oversized, thick fabric drawstring bag, a large leather-covered lid, a small leather-covered base, a gunmetal plastic cord manager, and a velvet lined center platform. All of the parts look as luxe as one would expect given the asking price — as fancy as a tuxedo, though understated, and my review sample’s grain was much finer than the version shown on Sena’s site. Similarly, a Sena logo embossed on the front is almost invisible unless light hits it just the right way.

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To assemble the Case, you wind a self-supplied Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable around the cord manager, place the velvet platform around and behind Apple’s charging puck, then place the plastic assembly inside the base with the USB cord sticking out. This enables you to connect the cord to a wall power adapter or computer; you can also tuck the cord into the base for storage during travel.

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The three aforementioned pieces can be used alone to create an Apple Watch charging dock, or you can add the fourth piece, turning the lid upside down and placing the base inside of it. This elevates the Watch roughly 3″ above a flat surface, around an inch higher than some of the Apple Watch docks I’ve tested, and a nice height for seeing the screen in Nightstand Mode.

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Functionally, the only particularly cool surprise in the Leather Watch Case is the stealthy use of magnets in the gunmetal cord manager. They keep all three of the bottom pieces together when the lid is off, and also keep the lid on tightly enough that you’ll need to deliberately separate it from the base. Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t feel comfortable tossing a premium (and scuffable) leather case into a backpack or suitcase without protection, but that’s why the drawstring bag is included.

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One thing that’s arguably missing from the Leather Watch Case is a battery. Given Nomad’s work on the Pod (reviewed here) and upcoming Pod Pro, this oversized circular form factor strikes me as making a lot of sense for something that doubles as an on-the-go charging dock and travel case. But while the battery-laden Pods are made from hardened metal and not cases, the Leather Watch Case is soft and has no integrated charging ability. It’s inevitable that some company will put the two concepts together in a (more expensive) do-it-all travel battery case for Apple Watch.

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As it is, Sena’s Leather Watch Case is pretty much the definition of a luxury product: something most people won’t need, but with enough frills that some people will be willing to buy in anyway. Beyond the horology crowd, it has appeal as a sub-$100 gift for an Apple Watch-loving spouse who already has the Watch and band of their dreams. The Leather Watch Case is currently available at a discounted preorder price of only $70, which will rise to $80 when Sena starts shipping units out in mid-November.

Manufacturer:
Sena
Price:
$80 ($70 preorder)
Compatibility:
Apple Watch

More From This Author

Check out more of my editorials, How-To guides, and reviews for 9to5Mac here! I’ve covered a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users. In addition to my popular guide to the best Apple Watch docks and stands, I’ve recently discussed how to safely prepare and wipe your iPhone for resale or trade-in, and how to get the best iPhone trade-in price to help buy an iPhone 6s, amongst many other topics.

Filed under: Apple Watch, Reviews Tagged: Apple watch, Leather Watch Case, Sena, Sena Cases

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Review: Twelve South’s Forté brings more Apple design DNA to Apple Watch stands

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Twelve South’s original Apple Watch stand, HiRise for Apple Watch, was early to market for a reason: it was derived from the company’s popular HiRise stands for iPhones, tweaked just enough to hold and charge the smaller Watch. It made our list of the Best Apple Watch Stands and Docks because it was a good first stab at the category, but based on Twelve South’s many cool Mac, iPad, and iPhone accessories, I knew that the company could do better.

Five months after HiRise hit stores, Twelve South has released Forté ($60), a considerably classier Apple Watch stand that looks and feels far closer to an Apple design. Replacing HiRise’s sandblasted aluminum with a chrome-plated metal alloy and grain leather, Forté has the good looks and substantial weight of an Apple dock, with only a couple of telltale signs that it’s a third-party product. Read on for the details…

Key Details:

  • Gorgeous chrome and black leather design
  • Matches steel Apple Watch, works with any Apple Watch
  • Holds Watch upright or in landscape for Nightstand Mode
  • Requires Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable

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While all of Twelve South’s products are packaged in stiff, fabric-wrapped cardboard, Forté’s package looks and feels like a premium watch box, complete with a magnetic closure, a ribbon pull to remove the stand, and an instruction manual pocket. A white liner outside the box spotlights its use with three stainless steel Apple Watches, which it matches beautifully, rather than the aluminum-bodied (and arguably more HiRise-appropriate) Apple Watch Sport.

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Forté arrives assembled, so you’ll need to pull off its front chrome ring — the only part made from plastic, though it matches the rest of the stand — and insert an Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable, feeding the wire down a kinked groove in the back. With the cable in place, you replace the chrome ring on the top, and that’s it: Forté is ready to hold your Watch on a 30-degree recline just over 2″ from the surface of a table. A very substantial weight in the base, plus a black rubber pad on the bottom, keep it from slipping around once you’ve chosen a location on your desk or nightstand.

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Rounded and gleaming in the light, the design is gorgeous and largely practical, though imperfect in a couple of ways. On positive notes, the chrome and grain leather-padded base look appropriately luxurious, surpassing the materials in Mophie’s slick Dock for Apple Watch. You can mount your Watch in portrait or landscape orientation, which means that Forté is Nightstand Mode-compatible, though you’ll need to pinch your magnetically-secured Apple Watch to use its buttons without dislodging it, a sore point with one of our editors.

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The other issue is the rear cable-managing channel, which looks and feels a little odd. This is partially because Twelve South created a U-shaped gap in the bar to accommodate closed-loop Apple Watch bands — a wise idea — but the shape detracts a little from the design’s looks; Mophie’s Dock for Apple Watch achieved the same functionality with less of a visual oddity by using a left-mounted bar rather than a centered one, and completely covering the cable. Additionally, though you won’t see it when the stand is viewed face-on, the bar’s chrome back remains open and feels a little jagged to the touch. Given how much polish the rest of the stand possesses, it feels like Forté was originally designed to be shipped with Apple’s Magnetic Charging Cable pre-installed, but tweaked late in the game to lower its price or get it to stores faster.

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Overall, Forté is a very nice stand that will have particular appeal to owners of the stainless steel Apple Watch, and fans of the sort of design luxury that chrome and leather can achieve when used cleanly together. Given the materials and look, Forté’s $10 premium over the decidedly aluminum HiRise strikes me as reasonable, and this is certainly one of the nicest $60 Apple Watch stands I’ve tested. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a (more expensive) Forté Deluxe ship with an integrated charging puck and cable, eliminating at least one of Forté’s small imperfections. That’s just a guess, but based on Twelve South’s history of “good then better” releases, something I’m looking forward to seeing.

Manufacturer:
Twelve South
Price:
$60
Compatibility:
Apple Watch

Filed under: Apple Watch, Reviews Tagged: Apple Watch stand, Forte, Twelve South

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