Adventures with the Nylon Apple Watch Band

Late last week, as I was working on my 13” Touch Bar MacBook Pro first impressions story, I realized I hadn’t yet tried using Apple Pay in Safari. So, for journalism’s sake, I decided to buy a nylon band for my Apple Watch. (I also got a USB-C to Lightning cable because I’m one of those people who likes to plug their iPhone into their laptop.) They came out last spring, but I hadn’t gotten one yet, so I figured now would be a good time to pick one up.

I received the band in the mail this week, and I’m honestly kinda disappointed. I love its color and comfort—blue is my favorite color, and the “Navy/Tahoe Blue” band is beautiful. The two-tone look is really sharp. Comfort-wise, the nylon feels soft and light on my wrist. It’s significantly lighter than the Sport bands I typically wear. In short: As a fashion item, the nylon band is a winner in my book. It’s stylish, comfortable, and everything you’d expect from Apple’s first-party bands.

If only I could wear it.

The deal breaker for me with the nylon band is how inaccessible for me to put on by myself. This problem isn’t Apple’s fault; there’s nothing inherently wrong with the band’s design. The problem lies in my less-than-optimal fine-motor skills. The clasp on the nylon band is akin to a class watch buckle, insofar as you thread the band through a loop and pin the buckle into a hole on the band. I wear my Apple Watch on my right wrist, and I went through myriad contortions trying to fasten this band; it took almost 15 frustratingly long and tortuous minutes to get it. My fingers just aren’t nimble enough to manipulate things.

This experience reminded me of something I wrote in June on conquering the Sport band:

I'm going to live with this for a while and see how it goes, but for as successful as this little endeavor was, it's underscored a big drawback to Apple's watch bands. While the Sport band now is a viable option for me now that I'm using my strong hand to fasten it, it shows that people with fine-motor delays like myself really have limited options in terms of bands. For many people, the magnetic bands could very well be the only choices for pragmatic and independence reasons. That's a narrow scope, unless you're okay with switching wrists or you don't mind getting help.

My trials with the nylon band is yet another example of how troublesome certain fastening mechanisms can be for people with similar circumstances to mine. The accessibility of Apple Watch bands are, in my view, a severely underrated aspect of the Watch experience as a whole. To reiterate a point I make in the excerpt above, the inaccessibility of something like the nylon band is unfortunate because it means my choice of bands are limited to the Sport band or one of the magnetic options (Leather and Milanese Loops). My frustration is exacerbated by the fact that, as I wrote earlier, the color and comfort of the nylon band is exemplary. Except I can’t get the damn thing on very easily.

I’m no materials expert, but once again, I would love to see Apple explore more self-fastening closures, a la magnets. For now, however, my nylon band will join my collection of other bands. It’s a shame I can’t use it, but the struggle in putting it on is, as the saying goes, real.