Review: Nomad's leather Apple Watch straps make a bold statement

Posted:
in Apple Watch
Nomad, using their standard blend of high-quality materials and expert craftsmanship, has released several Apple Watch bands. Of them, their leather straps are the most lust-worthy and notable, and AppleInsider has been wearing them for a while now.





These stunning straps aren't new. Both the modern and traditional style bands have been available for quite some time.

This isn't just a review after a week of use. We wanted to see both how the leather and the hardware looked after months of everyday wear and tear.

Nomad Slate Grey Apple Watch Band

Stainless steel lugs

Apple makes official lugs available to manufacturers looking to create Apple Watch straps. For those who don't want to pay or participate in Apple's program, they can create their own. Amazon is loaded with these cheaper alternatives.

We see a lot of these bands using lugs that just don't fit well. They move around, don't stay in securely, or are hard to insert in the first place.

Nomad Apple Watch Band Stainless Steel Buckle


On the black lugs and buckles, we also see the color fleck off, which definitely detracts from their appearance.

It can clearly be seen from the design and fit that Nomad opted to not use Apple's lugs. That said, theirs are far from cheap.

Both the lugs and the buckles are made from stainless steel. The lugs create a bold statement with their oversized look that really stands out on an Apple Watch.

This is something we haven't seen from many, if any, other straps.

Nomad Leather Apple Watch Strap


Nomad's lugs follow the curve of Apple Watch, giving the effect that the body is quite a bit bigger than it actually is. It really follows the current trend of oversized watches, though not to a ridiculous point. We don't love huge watches, but these lugs find a sweet spot.

Leather

One of the oldest tanneries in the US has their name stamped right on the underside of the beautiful leather seen in these watch bands.

Nomad Apple Watch Strap Horween leather


The Horween Leather Company is based out of Chicago and has been doing their thing since 1905.

In either the modern or traditional style, the leather looks and feels exceptional. It is soft, but has enough strength that it won't too easily get stretched or marred. Of course, those things will happen, but not as easily as one more overly soft.

We are fans of both the grey leather and the brown leather, but which looks better is more of a matter of taste. We could maybe make the argument that the grey band could be a little lighter. When compared to the press images, the band looks a lot more black rather than slate grey.

One of the best ways to judge leather though, is how it fares over time.

Wear and tear

Nomad Apple Watch Band comparison


Quality leather can change its look over time as it wears -- this can be a blessing or a curse. Cheaper leathers deteriorate over time, where quality ones hold up and develop a reach patina.

Horween is clearly the latter of the two. We wore the rustic brown and slate gray bands for around six months each to see how the leather would fare, and it clearly benefitted from this process.

Nomad Leather Apple Watch Strap


We noticed a bit more warmth on the rustic brown model after six months of use compared to the slate grey. The darker finish just seems to hide the wear a bit more.

What we also really enjoy about leather watch bands is how they form to your wrist over time. Out of the box, Nomad's bands are quite stiff, especially the traditional style which is a tad thicker. After breaking them in, like a new pair of shoes, they start to mold themselves to your own wrist, increasing their comfort.

If you look at the black hardware, Nomad uses Physical Vapor Deposition, or PVD, to color the steel rather than paint. PVD actually helps the lug's longevity, as well as helps protect it against weather and other abrasives. Like any finish, it could still be hit hard enough to be damaged, but not easily.

Nomad Apple Watch Strap


After plenty of use, neither the lugs nor buckle have really any signs of damage or wear. This is in direct opposition to the cheaper bands we've tested.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Nomad hit it out of the park with their leather watch bands. They are solid, beautifully designed, and have custom lugs that really separate themselves from others. They make the most out of a simple accessory with solid materials and expert craftsmanship.

We love the oversized lugs and quality leather, with the only minor complaint being the color discrepancy of the slate grey model versus photos, similar to how Apple's Rose Gold iPhone pictures don't look the same as the iPhone does when it is in your hand.

Where to buy

Nomad Apple Watch Strap


There is a wide variety of Nomad bands to choose from depending on what you're looking for.

Lugs and the buckle come in both black and silver, the leather comes in rustic brown and slate gray, there are 38mm and 42mm models, and a modern and traditional style.

Notably, the traditional style is only available in rustic brown, and a special 38mm rose gold and blue leather model is available in the modern cut.

All bands are available directly from Nomad for between $59.95 and $79.95 depending on the style.

For those looking for a more sporty option, Nomad also makes a pair of handsome sport bands as well.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    aegeanaegean Posts: 96member
    They are crap in my opinion. First of all, their branding is all over the place. Secondly, quality of leather is not as good as I have used from other brands with minimalist or no branding. So far I have invested 5x of the cost of Apple Watch Hermes S3 and undoubtedly, Hermes leather straps are the best if you can afford, otherwise Apple's official leather bands should be your second and only choice when it comes to quality. Lucrin also make reasonably good quality (fully customizable) and finishes but those are expensive as well. But if your watch is just basic entry level, and really looking for something cheaper, then anything you can consider, market is flooded with different brands. But I would stick with Apple's official straps, regardless. Nothing comes closer to these three brands when it comes to quality material, leather, buckles and lugs.
    edited May 7 peterhartwilliamlondon[Deleted User]
  • Reply 2 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,351member
    aegean said:
    They are crap in my opinion. First of all, their branding is all over the place. Secondly, quality of leather is not as good as I have used from other brands with minimalist or no branding. So far I have invested 5x of the cost of Apple Watch Hermes S3 and undoubtedly, Hermes leather straps are the best if you can afford, otherwise Apple's official leather bands should be your second and only choice when it comes to quality. But if your watch is just basic entry level, and really looking for something cheaper, then anything you can consider, market is flooded with different brands. But I would stick with Apple's official straps, regardless.
    I have the original Apple black leather strap for my Series 0, the strap was about $150. Solid leather, soft, durable. But after a few years it's getting a bit stretched out and thinning at my wear-point (the hole & prong for my wrist size).

    Now I'd like a new brown leather strap for my Series 3. I don't really want to spend another $150...I tried a few $15 cheap chinese ones off Amazon, and predictably they kinda suck (I think my current on has a foam core sandwiched in leather veneer). But there has to be a quality leather strap in the middle somewhere... Was hoping perhaps this was it.

    Do you have any quality, basic leather straps you recommend other than the Apple ones?
    edited May 7
  • Reply 3 of 21
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,221administrator
    aegean said:
    They are crap in my opinion. First of all, their branding is all over the place. Secondly, quality of leather is not as good as I have used from other brands with minimalist or no branding. So far I have invested 5x of the cost of Apple Watch Hermes S3 and undoubtedly, Hermes leather straps are the best if you can afford, otherwise Apple's official leather bands should be your second and only choice when it comes to quality. But if your watch is just basic entry level, and really looking for something cheaper, then anything you can consider, market is flooded with different brands. But I would stick with Apple's official straps, regardless.
    I have the original Apple black leather strap for my Series 0, the strap was about $150. Solid leather, soft, durable. But after a few years it's getting a bit stretched out and thinning at my wear-point (the hole & prong for my wrist size).

    Now I'd like a new brown leather strap for my Series 3. I don't really want to spend another $150...I tried a few $15 cheap chinese ones off Amazon, and predictably they kinda suck (I think my current on has a foam core sandwiched in leather veneer). But there has to be a quality leather strap in the middle somewhere... Was hoping perhaps this was it.

    Do you have any quality, basic leather straps you recommend other than the Apple ones?
    I'm with Andrew on this. The Nomad bands are really nice.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 4 of 21
    I dig these third party product reviews you guys have been doing. More please! That said, I don't know if I'm sold on these Nomad bands, but I am definitely on the look-out for a leather band for my Series 3 42mm. Anyone else have a favorite they'd like to share?
  • Reply 5 of 21
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 161member, editor
    I dig these third party product reviews you guys have been doing. More please! That said, I don't know if I'm sold on these Nomad bands, but I am definitely on the look-out for a leather band for my Series 3 42mm. Anyone else have a favorite they'd like to share?
    Glad you are enjoying them! More coming!

    What do you think of the Nomad bands? What are you looking for? I've tried dozens upon dozens of bands!
  • Reply 6 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,351member
    aegean said:
    They are crap in my opinion. First of all, their branding is all over the place. Secondly, quality of leather is not as good as I have used from other brands with minimalist or no branding. So far I have invested 5x of the cost of Apple Watch Hermes S3 and undoubtedly, Hermes leather straps are the best if you can afford, otherwise Apple's official leather bands should be your second and only choice when it comes to quality. But if your watch is just basic entry level, and really looking for something cheaper, then anything you can consider, market is flooded with different brands. But I would stick with Apple's official straps, regardless.
    I have the original Apple black leather strap for my Series 0, the strap was about $150. Solid leather, soft, durable. But after a few years it's getting a bit stretched out and thinning at my wear-point (the hole & prong for my wrist size).

    Now I'd like a new brown leather strap for my Series 3. I don't really want to spend another $150...I tried a few $15 cheap chinese ones off Amazon, and predictably they kinda suck (I think my current on has a foam core sandwiched in leather veneer). But there has to be a quality leather strap in the middle somewhere... Was hoping perhaps this was it.

    Do you have any quality, basic leather straps you recommend other than the Apple ones?
    I'm with Andrew on this. The Nomad bands are really nice.
    Cool. This price point is where I’d expect it to be for what I’m looking for...I’ll likely give their Modern strap a try. 
  • Reply 7 of 21
    Last week I received a MONVADON
    Black - 42 / Midnight Black / Black.
    I really like the finish and the quick release buckle. Overall it feels like an expensive watch strap.
    My dislikes are the leather is a tad thicker than Id like - and I initially found it slightly uncomfortable to wear. HOWEVER It is softening up nicely now with use.

    As you can see - Im not a professional reviewer but the company was terrific to work with - my using delivered reasonably promptly - & I would highly recommend it.



  • Reply 8 of 21
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,857member
    I really don’t like lug based bands for my Apple Watch. It’s a matter of laziness on the part of these manufacturers. This way, they don’t have to design bands for the Apple Watch. They can use their standard bands, and just buy the lugs from one of the many manufacturers making them, mostly out of China. Some of those are very good, and some are junk.

    but it looks awkward. The only reason why I would recommend even buying just lugs is to use a favorite band you already own that’s too expensive to duplicate.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 9 of 21
    NikonGilNikonGil Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Thanks for the review.  I have two Nomad modern straps that I've owned for about one year, one in brown and the other in blue, both with silver lugs and my experience mirrors the reviewer's experience.  The silver lugs match well with my aluminum Series 2 Apple Watch and look really nice.  I find the leather to be great and it has worn in nicely over time.  The blue is my favorite - goes with anything and is a nice color and classy.  Too bad it looks like blue has been discontinued on Nomad's website.  I purchased mine on closeout at Best Buy for less than $30 and I've seen it on eBay as well.  The brown is very nice too and has developed a nice patina over time.  My only slight gripe is that the leather strap keeper is a little too loose but I fixed that with quick trip to my local shoe repair shop to put in a stitch to keep it fixed in place.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 10 of 21
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,604member
    Showing the wear/patina on the 6-month old straps was very useful and much appreciated. The traditional style looks awesome with a bit of wear. Thanks for the review.
  • Reply 11 of 21
    ldwalkerldwalker Posts: 1member
    I love the three Nomad leather and one Nomad sports band that I own. So much so, that I've purchased their leather bands for my wife, daughters, son, and son-in law. The traditional is my favorite.
    equality72521
  • Reply 12 of 21
    I really wanted to like them, I tried mine for a few months and it never fit right. Also the band is a little too big and have to use one of the last few holes but even then it would be either too tight or too loose. I didn’t find them molding to my wrist they just kind of stayed stiff. 
  • Reply 13 of 21
    bluefire1bluefire1 Posts: 803member
    Interesting bands but for now I'm sticking with Apple's Space Black Milanese Loop.


  • Reply 14 of 21
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 161member, editor
    melgross said:
    I really don’t like lug based bands for my Apple Watch. It’s a matter of laziness on the part of these manufacturers. This way, they don’t have to design bands for the Apple Watch. They can use their standard bands, and just buy the lugs from one of the many manufacturers making them, mostly out of China. Some of those are very good, and some are junk.

    but it looks awkward. The only reason why I would recommend even buying just lugs is to use a favorite band you already own that’s too expensive to duplicate.
    I agree about third-party lugs! We see a lot of bands that are just normal watch bands on a lug, and it looks slightly out of place. Nomad clearly doesn't fall into that bucket. That is why they went through all this effort in creating their own lugs, that fit as good as Apple's, and they did it the right way.
  • Reply 15 of 21
    Andrew_OSUAndrew_OSU Posts: 161member, editor
    dewme said:
    Showing the wear/patina on the 6-month old straps was very useful and much appreciated. The traditional style looks awesome with a bit of wear. Thanks for the review.
    I think that part is really important! Any leather band will wear over time and look completely different from when purchased. Glad you enjoyed the review!
  • Reply 16 of 21
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 828member
    I dig these third party product reviews you guys have been doing. More please! That said, I don't know if I'm sold on these Nomad bands, but I am definitely on the look-out for a leather band for my Series 3 42mm. Anyone else have a favorite they'd like to share?
    Glad you are enjoying them! More coming!
    Great! Only a six month lead time. Hope you started a while ago...
  • Reply 17 of 21
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,221administrator
    linkman said:
    I dig these third party product reviews you guys have been doing. More please! That said, I don't know if I'm sold on these Nomad bands, but I am definitely on the look-out for a leather band for my Series 3 42mm. Anyone else have a favorite they'd like to share?
    Glad you are enjoying them! More coming!
    Great! Only a six month lead time. Hope you started a while ago...
    We just make him work 16 hours a day. Saves time :D

    In all seriousness, we have a lot of third-party product reviews coming up, all with the Apple user in mind.
    edited May 8
  • Reply 18 of 21
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,857member
    melgross said:
    I really don’t like lug based bands for my Apple Watch. It’s a matter of laziness on the part of these manufacturers. This way, they don’t have to design bands for the Apple Watch. They can use their standard bands, and just buy the lugs from one of the many manufacturers making them, mostly out of China. Some of those are very good, and some are junk.

    but it looks awkward. The only reason why I would recommend even buying just lugs is to use a favorite band you already own that’s too expensive to duplicate.
    I agree about third-party lugs! We see a lot of bands that are just normal watch bands on a lug, and it looks slightly out of place. Nomad clearly doesn't fall into that bucket. That is why they went through all this effort in creating their own lugs, that fit as good as Apple's, and they did it the right way.
    They’re really not a metal working company, as far as I understand. Their lugs are very likely made by someone else, even if they did the design. Like Apple, who “makes” iPhones. Nevertheless, I’m not questioning the quality.

    my opinion as to how they look (and fit!) is based on my not thick wrist size. My Apple Watch, in the 42mm size is already big for me. Adding lugs hanging off the ends just makes it really awkward looking, and uncomfortable. If you have thicker wrists, then it’s not an issue.
  • Reply 19 of 21
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,857member
    linkman said:
    I dig these third party product reviews you guys have been doing. More please! That said, I don't know if I'm sold on these Nomad bands, but I am definitely on the look-out for a leather band for my Series 3 42mm. Anyone else have a favorite they'd like to share?
    Glad you are enjoying them! More coming!
    Great! Only a six month lead time. Hope you started a while ago...
    We just make him work 16 hours a day. Saves time :D

    In all seriousness, we have a lot of third-party product reviews coming up, all with the Apple user in mind.
    “With the Apple user in mind.” That’s refreshing for an Apple oriented site. ;~)
  • Reply 20 of 21
    macguimacgui Posts: 849member
    I like leather bands in general and have a few. But the only one I like with the Watch is Apple's Classic Buckle, in Saddle Brown.

    All of the aftermarket leather bands are just too bulky for the aesthetic of the Watch. It makes me think of putting off-road truck tires on an Aston-Martin. A little hyperbolic, but you get my drift.

    The Apple Classic Buckle band, not surprisingly, perfectly matches the Watch and look much better with it than any third-party band I've seen. It's pricey but it's worth it to me. The Hermès bands also look great with the Watch (again no surprise) but are far too pricey for my taste.

    I hope to find a non-Apple band that matches the Watch's style, but I'm not very hopeful.
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