Review: The new Leather Link Apple Watch band is a great premium choice

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited January 21
Apple's newest premium Apple Watch band is the unique Leather Link that stays secure with magnets encased in genuine leather, and it is a great choice for affordable luxury.

California Poppy and Black Leather Link Bands Back
California Poppy and Black Leather Link Bands Back


When Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 6, it announced several new band types. We saw the introduction of the liquid silicone Solo Loop as well as the similarly-designed Braided Solo Loop. While those were new one-piece bands, Apple also showed off the two-piece Leather Link.

The Leather Link was leaked earlier this year, and we've been thinking about it ever since. We've been a fan of Apple's leather bands in the past, using the Leather Loop for years, but the new band had a different design that intrigued us.






We couldn't decide how we fully felt about the band prior to trying it out. The pills looked a bit too funky and we were worried it would look rather silly when actually worn.

After wearing the band the last several days, not only did we find our initial thoughts were wrong, but this may now be our new favorite Apple Watch band.

Leather Link Design

The new Leather Link is a new style of band for Apple with a unique two-part structure compared to the standard Leather Loop. Beyond the yellow California Poppy and traditional black that we're looking at here, it also comes in Baltic blue, and Saddle brown.

Black Leather Link band
Black Leather Link band


Each side of the strap is made of two pieces of leather with several magnets sandwiched between. The long side of the strap wraps over the small side to securely hold the strap on your wrist. In our time with the band, it never came loose. It requires quite a bit of force to separate the bands when pulled away from one another, but they pull apart easily when one edge is peeled from the other.

There are both 40mm and 44mm sizes of the Leather Link, and they fit all generations of Apple Watch, including older 38mm and 42mm sizes.

Leather Link fit and comfort

The Leather Link band comes in two sizes -- small/medium and medium/large. My measurement was roughly in the middle, allowing both sizes to fit my wrist. For the Solo Loop, I measured exactly on the line between a seven and an eight on the guide. For the Leather Link, I chose the medium/large size at the risk of it not overlapping enough and being less secure.

The underside of the band has size markings and a light brown color
The underside has a light brown color and size markings


It's clear after wearing it that I could have chosen the small/medium and been just fine. The longer strap wraps almost entirely over the smaller one with only three links not covered. If I were to choose again, I'd go with the small/medium.

Regardless of the size, the band is extremely comfortable. If you have the Milanese loop or even the Sports Band they tend to get cold quickly in the air. The leather is a much warmer band to wear which is nice as we head to into the chilly months.

Wearing the California Poppy Leather Link
Wearing the Calofornia Poppy Leather Link


The Leather Link is also a great band to wear to bed if using sleep tracking on your Apple Watch. It is comfortable enough on your wrist, but also soft if you happen to sleep with your hand or arm under your head.

Day-to-day the band has been one of the most comfortable ones we've worn. It is subtly flexible and can be adjusted very minutely to exactly where you need it. Becuase there is no buckle, it is very comfortable resting your wrist on a hard surface while wearing it, for instance, in a typing position.

Compared to the Leather Loop

Apple's Leather Link has always been a popular high-end option for Apple Watch, but it had some drawbacks. While it could compare apart into two pieces, the loop design could make it a little tricky to take on or off. It also didn't work well with flat Apple Watch chargers -- such as the ill-fated AirPower.

The Leather Link band comes into two parts which ensure compatibility with a wider range of chargers, though it can still be tricky to put on due to the magnets jumping to one another prematurely.

Leather Link versus Leather Loop
Leather Link versus Leather Loop


Aside from the two-part design, the Link Band magnets do not go edge to edge, giving off a rounded pill-like appearance to each of the magnets. As we mentioned above, I initially was skeptical of this look but wearing it, it looks much better than we anticipated.

Should you buy the Leather Link band?

There are some Apple bands that feel quite expensive without any real reason. The typical Sports Band comes to mind. $50 for what feels like almost the same as third-party ones off Amazon.

California Poppy on Apple Watch Series 6
California Poppy Leather Link on Apple Watch Series 6


But in an effort to find a more cost-effective Leather Loop, we've tried a few from other sources, and every time there was a stark difference. In other bands, the leather was harder, the magnets weren't as strong, or the edges frayed after limited use. It reinforced that for some bands, Apple's quality is best.

We've used our leather loop since it was introduced, and it looks great -- other than a couple of bite marks from our cat at one point which is an occupational hazard of pets and leather goods. We've cleaned it from time to time using a typical leather cleaner and it remains as stylish as the day we bought it.

At the moment, there are no third-party equivalents of Apple's Leather Link band but when the copycats do arrive, we have no doubt that Apple's will be markedly superior.

California Poppy and Black Leather Link Bands Back
California Poppy and Black Leather Link Bands Back


When looking at Apple's lineup of Apple Watch bands, the Braided Solo Loop, while nice, does not seem to have the same value as the Leather Link. If we wanted a premium band for our Apple Watch, the new Leather Link would be our new go-to choice.

This band looks fantastic on, has great quality, and we know it holds up over time based on our usage of Apple's other leather bands. Even the California Poppy color that we figured would be too yellow, actually comes off as more of a caramel tan and looks perfect.

Obviously the Leather Link won't be for everyone, hence Apple's massive lineup of various bands and colors, but it absolutely won us over. We'll be back to revisit this review in a few months with pictures of wear and weathering.

Pros
  • Unique design

  • Held by magnets and creates no thick buckle

  • Premium look and feel

  • Great colors

  • Easy to put on and off

  • Works with all chargers

  • Better value than Braided Solo Loop
Cons
  • Only four colors

Rating: 5 out of 5

Where to buy

Find the Apple Watch Leather Link band on Adorama or Amazon for $99 in Baltic Blue, Black, Saddle Brown, and California Poppy.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    Outstanding job with the review. It is well written and very detailed. Please do a giveaway of this Leather Link band.
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 12
    I got this Leather Loop with my new Titanium Apple Watch 6, and it is indeed very nice.  One should note that this band, as with all magnetic bands will affect the Compass app quite dramatically, so keep that in mind.
    razorpitThayayarealivingwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 12
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,070member
    Got the poppy coming in next week. I really enjoyed the previous Apple leather straps, tho one was so soft that I reserved it for special occasions since regular hand-washing seemed to degrade it. They don't sell that plain leather strap anymore... I've had numerous third-party leather straps but their lugs never fit the straps as well as Apple's do.
  • Reply 4 of 12
    I would really like a simple - Apple-made - leather watch strap with a buckle
  • Reply 5 of 12
    i’ve been wanting to collect all of apple’s leather loop bands, but ended up with just the black because i felt they were expensive and so delayed purchase. this leather link however looks amazing and based on the review seems like a nice investment. 
    razorpit
  • Reply 6 of 12
    I completely regret buying the ‘black’ (dark navy) braided loop. It looks like a cheap Amazon band on my pewter steel watch. Stays wet for hours- not a good fitness band. Looks cheap- not a good dressing up band. I wish I had gotten one of these instead.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 12
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,983member
    I really like the design of this leather band, but I don't like either color. If it was available in something between  saddle brown and tobacco brown I'd have on fo sho.

    I've got the early Classic Leather Buckle, and love it. But is stays with my OG stainless. They're a great combo.

    Waiting for my S6, ETA early November. I wish Apple didn't charge the Card until the Watch shipped. It's not like Apple needs the money.
  • Reply 8 of 12
    fred1fred1 Posts: 729member
    Luxury yes, but affordable? That’s debatable. Until I got my Apple Watch I had never spent more than the cot of one of the bands on a whole watch!  
  • Reply 9 of 12
    Can you turn the straps over so effectively having two colours to choose from with one strap?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 12
    Wow, I can already see that I'll be in the minority on this opinion, but with regard to the "premium" label, the only thing that comes to mind is "You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means."

    That thing is just butt ugly to me.  I'm sure glad they didn't make something like that the default band..
    fred1
  • Reply 11 of 12
    fred1fred1 Posts: 729member
    gremlin said:
    Can you turn the straps over so effectively having two colours to choose from with one strap?
    Probably not since the attachments to the watch aren’t reversible. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 12
    I bought the leather link watch strap in Poppy for my Series 6 in November, 5 months ago. The yellow “paint” has rubbed off the strap in a number of sections and it is quite noticeable. I’ve looked after the watch, always remove it before showering/washing up etc. It’s so disappointing. 

    Online Customer Care at Apple are claiming this is “normal wear and tear” but I have an appointment next week with the Genius Bar to get a technician’s opinion. Anyone else had this issue? 
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