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The best thing about my new Apple Watch is the super-stretchy band

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The Braided Solo Loop is expensive but worth it

a:hover]:text-black [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black text-gray-63″>Image: Apple

My problem with the Apple Watch, and with practically all watches in general, is the band. Like many people, I spend most of my time sitting at a desk typing on a computer, and I’ve never been able to get used to the way my watch strap, or even just the small metal clasp, clacks around on my desk or on the palm rest of my laptop. It’s scratchy, it’s loud, and it’s uncomfortable. Inevitably, I get into a watch-wearing habit only to take it off to work and then eventually just never put it back on again.

But I bought a Watch Series 8 this weekend with the stretchy Braided Solo Loop, and it changed things for this watch wearer. The Braided Solo Loop (I call it the BSL, as in, “hang on bros, let me throw on the BSL before we hit those gnarly waves”) came out in 2020 with the Watch Series 6, but since I haven’t had an Apple Watch for a few years, it was new to me. Rather than the classic two-part watch strap, the BSL is a single piece of stretchy woven yarn. It’s thin enough that I don’t feel it whacking the desk instead of my wrist and soft enough that it doesn’t scratch or catch as I move my hands around.

The BSL isn’t adjustable except for the stretch, so you do need to get sized for the band either by going to an Apple Store or printing the company’s home sizing band. I measured at a 9, but the employee helping me at the store said she recommended sizing down. So now I have a black — excuse me, midnight — size 8 BSL on my left wrist, where it left a tiny woven marking for a day but now seems to have settled nicely.

For the first time, I can now comfortably use my Apple Watch all day instead of constantly taking it off when I sit down and putting it on when I get up. It’s been a big win, both for my ability to actually wear this very expensive gadget I bought and for the functionality of the watch since some of its best health features are meant to be collecting data 24 hours a day. So far, I’ve only taken my Series 8 off to charge it. Which still happens too often, by the way, but sadly, no band can fix that part of the problem.

The BSL does have a cheaper sibling, called the Solo Loop, which is a similarly stretchy piece but is made of Apple’s classic liquid silicone. It’s half the price of the BSL — which costs a whopping $99 — but I’ve just never liked the way the silicone looks. A note of warning in both cases: some buyers say the bands stretch over time to the point of being too loose, which would be a bummer for such an expensive accessory. I’ve been told the BSL is pretty absorbent, too, so it appears I’m going to have to add “hand wash my watch strap” to the weekly laundry list. Still, even with all those worries, this is the most comfortable the Apple Watch has ever been on my wrist.

You can also find plenty of third-party stretchy bands: lots of people like the ones from Palmetto, which cost as little as $15, and there’s a popular Etsy store called SDVL that sells the spitting image of the BSL for $27. I suspect I’ll end up buying them all at one point or another. Because I’ve gone stretchy watch band, and I’m not going back.

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