Carlos Vega/Digital Trends

These days, you can choose which Apple watch strap you want at the time you order your watch, but it wasn’t always that way. Before Apple introduced the Apple Watch Series 5, when you ordered the watch model you liked, there was a limited choice of bands that came with your first purchase. These are really nice watch straps, of course — after all, this is Apple — and the Apple Watch is our top pick for the best smartwatch you can buy.

At its September 10th keynote, Apple debuted the new Apple Watch Studio, an online tool and in-store marketplace that lets customers pair any watch with any band available — some 1,000 possible pairings. If you like to mix up your look and dress your watch up or down, you can also switch out your band at will with the hundreds of third-party straps now available. With so many Apple Watch accessories out there, the first thing that you may want to do is explore ways to customize it to your own style.

Even if you’re new to the Apple Watch, swapping out the band isn’t that much of a challenge. Available watches come in four sizes: Two for men and two for women. The older Watch 3 Series is 42mm and 38mm, while the newer Apple Watch 4 and 5 series comes in 40mm and 44 mm sizes. Luckily, all watches take the same size bands, so even if you upgraded from a Watch 2 or 3 to a Watch 4 or 5, you can use any available strap on any generation watch. And to make your search for the perfect Apple Watch band a little easier, we’ve rounded up the best Apple Watch bands in existence.

Maybe you prefer a sport loop to the silicone sport band because you can more easily adjust the fit, or perhaps you prefer a leather band for business meetings or a Milanese Loop for dressy occasions. If you’re not already familiar with how to change a band on the Apple Watch, we walk you through it step-by-step.

Prep the surface

Before you start working on your watch, prepare a soft microfiber cover on a sturdy table to work on so you do not scratch your watch face on a hard tabletop.

Apple Watch Band set up
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Release the old band

Apple Watch band connector
Jackie Dove/Digital Trends

At the center of the Apple watch back, you will see two thin watchband release buttons — one at the top and the other at the bottom. Press those while at the same time moving the old strap to either side.

Removing Apple Watch straps
Jackie Dove/Digital Trends
Apple watch band separated
Jackie Dove/Digital Trends

If you look at the new band for your Apple Watch, you will see a small bit of plastic in the center. When you insert the band, this piece slides inside a small groove on either side of the watch face. After you remove the original band by pushing the band release button to slide it out, you can then slide the replacement band into place. You will hear a click to signify it is properly seated.

Apple Watch band attachment
Jackie Dove/Digital Trends

Remove and replace your Apple Watch band 

  • Hold the watch firmly in your hand, or place it face down on a soft cloth surface.
  • Hold down the release button on the back of your watch, and slide the band to the right or left to remove it.
  • Position your new strap properly to fit your wrist so it’s not backward or upside down. If you’re switching from a two-strap band to a loop, it may take some figuring out to get it positioned properly.
  • Slide the new band in until you hear it click.
  • Without pressing the release button, gently move the band left and right to make sure it is attached securely. It should not budge.
  • If you’re having trouble removing the band, keep pressing down on the button and try again. Some bands are easier to remove than others. Always make sure the band is fastened securely before wearing the watch again.
New Apple Watch band replacement
Jackie Dove/Digital Trends

Apple has a gorgeous collection of bands for its watch with a variety of designs, so the way you adjust them can vary between models. With so many straps to choose from, you can create a different look for every occasion.

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