When the Apple Watch launched nearly a year ago, one of the most intriguing aspects of the design was the ability to interchange bands to match your style. While there are a variety of options available direct from Apple, they are rather costly depending on the type. Even the simple silicone sport bands cost $50. Naturally, third-party manufacturers took note of this and started pumping out alternatives at lower price points.
The trouble is, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of knockoff options available on Amazon. It’s tough to know where to start and what the quality of these third-party bands will be. Over the last two weeks I’ve been wearing two different styles of watch bands from OULUOQI, a new brand for sale on Amazon. Its silicone option is available in ten different colors and retails for $10.99 Prime shipped, which is down $41 from Apple’s official band. I also looked at the Black Milanese Loop style for $18.99 Prime shipped. Were they any good? Head below for a few quick thoughts on each.
Let’s start with the silicone alternative. It’s available in 38 and 42mm options plus a variety of colors. At just $10.99 Prime shipped, I was fairly skeptical about the fit and finish. Replicating Apple’s smooth silicone band was going to be a tough proposition. In terms of feel, it’s very similar to the official Sport band but doesn’t quite have the same texture when you rub your finger across it. The material tends to stick to your skin a little bit more than Apple’s rendition.
It terms of the fit, I was very impressed with how OULUOQI was able to recreate its silicone band. The lugs fit the connection point just as Apple’s Sport does and I had no issue adding or removing the band. It has a silver metal connector that doesn’t appear to be quite as big but still does a fine job of keeping the band in place.
One qualm that I did have was that it doesn’t ship with a third half of the band for smaller wrists. But at $10.99, that’s not something that I expected. Overall, for the price, it’s tough to go wrong here considering you can purchase multiple colors for the cost of one band direct from Apple.
Now to the Black Milanese Loop band. My expectations here were far less than the silicone option discussed above. The picture on the official Amazon listing depicts a shiny loop band that looks on par with Apple’s new release. In reality, the Black Milanese loop doesn’t have nearly the level of visual depth on each link like the official version. It’s very flat with little variation throughout the band.
While the silicone band felt on virtually on par with the competition, the fancier loop band would certainly not be confused with Apple’s rendition. Most notably, the lugs and magnetic connector are made of plastic as opposed to metal. From a distance, it would be tough to differentiate the two but up close you’d certainly notice the material change. That said, at $18.99 as opposed to $149 you should expect that. If you’re on a budget or just want an alternative for fancier occasions without breaking the bank, it’s worth a look.
If I had to chose one band to wear everday, it would certainly be the silicone option. The replication was closer to the real thing and more comfortable to wear over an extended period of time. For the price, it’s tough to beat despite a few minor flaws.
Keep an eye out for more Apple Watch band reviews in the coming weeks. In the meantime, take a look at these leather alternatives from $14.49 Prime shipped for another option. Oh, if you were wondering, the dock pictured above is Spigen’s aluminum option which you can pick up for $15.99 Prime shipped.