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The Apple Watch Series 3, see our full review, is one of the best smartwatches available and if you have an iPhone there is nothing better.
Apple sells very expensive bands, but many of us want to switch them often to match clothes, activities, or for other occasions and that is why I am always on the lookout for affordable options.
Southern Straps has 10 $35 nylon styles and two $75 leather styles to choose from. Matthew sent along three nylon bands and the black leather band for me to try with my 42mm Apple Watch.
Note on the website that you get one free nylon band if you purchase two bands so that's a great deal if you want a variety of bands for your Apple Watch.
Southern Straps has its brand identified on the underside of its bands. The nylon bands have the branding in white text stamped on the back. The leather bands have the branding embedded into the leather.
All bands have two loops to secure the bitter end of the band so it will stay close to your wrist. Metal clasps are also used with gold, silver, and black options available. I tested just black options since I have a black aluminum Apple Watch.
Apple has a standard button press and release mechanism which I have seen used on every Apple Watch band I have tested. Southern Straps has this in place, but also uses a spring bar release mechanism that is typically found on other watch bands, such as my Samsung Gear S3 Frontier.
At first I didn't understand why you would want two band release mechanisms, but then I realized that these bands are universal and will fit on either the 38mm and 42mm Apple Watch. The only difference is the end connection and this spring bar release separates the band from that connector. Thus, if you have a family with 38mm and 42mm Apple Watch devices, then you can easily swap out bands and share them no matter which size Apple Watch you have. This also means you are free to move between the two sizes in the future.
I enjoyed using the black leather band, available for $75. The leather used is vegetable-tanned material from Italy and it feels great after breaking it in a bit. It is thick enough to last for years and smells good too.
The stitching is hand-laced with durable waxed cord in San Francisco and it looks stylish too. It's great to see these watch bands being made in the USA.
The metal clasps work well and look good. The bands are designed to fit wrists from 140mm to 250mm in diameter so should work for most people.
The loops have stitching keeping them closed on the leather band, which gives the band a good look too.
I was pleased to receive a blue and green nylon band to test out as the colors closely match my Seattle Seahawks traditional color scheme. This $35 band is well made with a durable single piece of nylon that is doubled over and stitched.
Like most new bands the nylon strap is stiff at first. After a few days of wearing it, the band breaks in and fits comfortably on the wrist.
The band looks great with my Apple Watch Series 3.