Much to my chagrin, there aren’t nearly as many leather Apple Watch bands to pick from as I would like. You can jump onto Etsy and pick from a million options, but they all sort of look the same and have the artisanal price to go with it. You can pick from any of Apple’s options, though they all feel a bit overpriced for the leather quality you receive. (Plus, I’m not too fond of any of Apple’s current designs. Not a single Apple leather band comes in a classic buckle. I have the Leather Loop — it aged poorly and is more difficult to put than it should be.) And if you want the best quality, well, be prepared to shell out for one of the Hermès options.
Next, add in the new titanium-bodied Apple Watch Ultra and see your leather band options dwindle even further. Nearly all the options on the market right now have aluminum or stainless steel adapters, meaning the connection between the watch band and the Watch Ultra will differ in their materials. This difference often drives me insane.
So when SANDMARC reached out to see if I’d be interested in trying out their new Apple Watch Ultra leather band a few months back, of course I was intrigued. A) There weren’t nearly as many leather bands out there as I would like. B) The band is designed specifically for the Apple Watch Ultra. C) The cost doesn’t break the bank.
I’ve really put this leather band through its paces the last few months. I’ve worn it through tax season in a classier work environment. I’ve worn it to cut the grass, do yard work, and haul rock as we improved our front yard. I’ve sweated with the band on hikes, put the band into the water at the lake, and traveled with the band across Canada.
Here’s how the SANDMARC Apple Watch Ultra Leather Band held up.
First, We Always Have to Discuss Leather Materials First
Whenever you deal with and grade leather quality, you must first start with the amount you paid for the leather — more often than not, the price you paid for the leather is directly correlated to the feel of the leather on your wrist. (I imagine this correlation doesn’t apply with Hermès, but I haven’t had a chance to test the theory yet!)
The SANDMARC Apple Watch Ultra Leather Band comes in at $70 USD, which is certainly on the lower side of the spectrum when it comes to leather bands. I’ve always felt under $50 is a waste of time. More than $100 certainly opens up some expectations. At $70 for the SANDMARC, you find yourself right in the middle.
And right in the middle is what I’d say this leather feels like. The leather is on the thinner side, which has its pros and cons:
- Pro: The band is very flexible and quickly conforms to your wrist shape.
- Pro: The band is very light, limiting the weight of an already-heavy Apple Watch Ultra.
- Con: I’m unsure about the the band’s long-term durability — I don’t feel as though this is heirloom quality.
Again, you’re not paying for heirloom quality, so this is exactly what should be expected.
The leather’s brown is on the darker brown side. I have a few leather belts which are more orange, more camel than this band. I think this brown is aligned with a more formal brown shoe (think tie-up brown dress shoe) versus the the more casual loafer-style brown shoe (think slip on, brighter brown shoe). Either way, I think you can pull off the SANDMARC band in a more formal and a more casual environment just fine.
The band ships as a one-size-fits-all, which is just barely true for me. I have small wrists, ensuring the band closes snugly in the second hole (out of seven holes total). When I’m active, this second hole is nice and snug. When I’m cold (which is often during the long winter months), the band is a bit looser on my wrist than I’d like. If the leather stretches at all over time, I may find myself moving into the very last hole.
Second, the Adapter Materials
As I alluded to already, you can find a reasonable number of leather band options for the Apple Watch, but it’s extra hard to find options with a titanium-styled adapter to match the new Apple Watch Ultra. Fortunately, the SANDMARC band ships with titanium-like colours for the adapter.
Now, the adapters aren’t the highest of quality here. Again, keep your spending in mind. The materials are light, reasonably durable, and match the titanium body of the Apple Watch Ultra. That’s really all there is to say.
There is a very slight difference in colouring between the titanium body of the Ultra and the brushed metal of the SANDMARC band. Overall, it’s hardly noticeable, and is as close as you can find to a matching band right now.
Finally, the biggest selling feature of the SANDMARC band for me: The clasp is nice and thin. Perhaps the biggest issue when wearing a watch all day is the clasp hitting the edge of my MacBook Pro when typing or throwing off my left hand when using an external keyboard. In general, I take my Apple Watch off at work for most of the day to not impede on my typing. I can keep the SANDMARC band on for most of the day thanks to the thin clasp. It still comes off from time to time, but it’s much, much better than the thick Watch Ultra Ocean band the watch came with.
A few other miscellaneous thoughts on the SANDMARC band:
- The $100+ Apple Leather Loop took on the black colouring from my Grovemade desk pad very quickly. After a few months, the SANDMARC band has not taken on that black colour.
- The edges of the SANDMARC band are showing some wear — the edges are lighter (almost white) in colour.
- This aging reminds me a lot of the leather Bellroy uses in their wallets. Prior to the Designers Edition and other Premium editions, Bellroy used a vegetable tanned leather that turned white at its most used corners. The SANDMARC band feels and ages exactly like that Bellroy leather from a few years ago.
- I can’t see any visible impact of the leather getting wet.
- The clasp has “SANDMARC” etched into it. It’s a very minimal branding and almost isn’t noticeable.
There are only so many words you can throw out there about an Apple Watch band. In short, here’s what I’m hoping you can take away regarding the SANDMARC Apple Watch Ultra Leather Band:
- The leather is neither the best you’ve ever used nor the worst. You’re paying middle-ground money for a middle-ground leather. To me, this is a win.
- The adapter materials nicely match the Watch Ultra’s titanium body and the thin clasp makes this band easier to wear when working during the day.
- You can wear the SANDMARC band in almost any occasion. You probably won’t want to wear it while riding the Peloton and you shouldn’t be wearing it when attending a formal ball. Otherwise, you should be good to go.
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced Apple Watch leather band that also happens to match your Apple Watch Ultra, you could certainly do worse than the $70 SANDMARC Apple Watch Ultra Leather Band.
SANDMARC sent me this leather band free of charge for purposes of review. I’ve put it through its paces longer than most other products I review to ensure I have proper thoughts on its quality and durability.