March 30, 2023

I love the Apple Watch Ultra, but I can’t deny it’s a pretty big smartwatch for everyday wear. Ahead of a recent trip away, I’d chosen to wear the Ultra, and wanted to experiment with a different band. I wanted it to be more comfortable, but not at the expense of style, or by wearing a leather band, which I don’t think suits it at all.

By chance, I stumbled on what I think is the perfect band for the Apple Watch Ultra when you’re not exploring mountains or the ocean, and you just want to show this superb smartwatch off on the streets.

One easy change for the Apple Watch Ultra

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I purchased the Apple Watch Ultra with the Ocean Band, which like the other two custom Apple Watch Ultra bands — the Alpine Loop and Trail Loop — is chunky and hardwearing. It looks great and absolutely suits the Ultra. It fits in with the lines and size perfectly, and I’ve always been loathe to change it because of this. I needed a new band that matched the look, but improved the comfort, and that’s a tough task.

The Apple Watch Series 8 is far less sensitive to band changes, in that the vast majority of available bands suit the size and shape of the case very well. It’s not the same with the Apple Watch Ultra. Bands that are too slim, too thick, or have sharp tapers look weird against the Ultra’s massive 49mm case, and as the watch already captures enough attention on your wrist, pairing it with the wrong strap will attract the wrong kind of attention.

For example, leather bands look odd on this watch. This isn’t a dress watch, so anything too smart doesn’t suit it at all. It’s the same with a metal bracelet. The Ultra is heavy enough without increasing it further, and even the very best metal bracelets can’t often be called comfortable. Standard Sport Loop bands are too boring, and the shapeless Sport Loop is too square. So where to go from here?

The band I’ve been wearing the Apple Watch Ultra with is Apple’s simple Solo Loop, and I think it looks fantastic. It’s a credit to Apple’s superb design work that the band doesn’t look too slim, and the taper perfectly matches the corners of the case, making it look just as cohesive and “made for the Ultra” as the Ocean Band or Alpine Loop. But it’s not all about the style; the change makes the Apple Watch Ultra feel far less cumbersome, and a lot more comfortable too.

Secure, light, and comfortable

Stretching out the Solo Loop band on the Apple Watch Ultra.

I chose the rubber Solo Loop rather than the Braided Solo Loop. The rubber Solo Loop suits the Apple Watch Ultra’s outdoorsy style better, in my opinion, and I find it keeps the smartwatch better centered on my wrist too. While I love the Braided Solo Loop and wear the Apple Watch Series 8 with one, it doesn’t hold the Ultra’s additional case weight very well, causing it to annoyingly slip around my wrist.

This doesn’t happen with the rubber Solo Loop. It has more grip against my skin, and in addition to keeping it centered, it doesn’t shift around under my cuff either. Another benefit is the weight. With the Solo Loop, the Apple Watch Ultra weighs 74 grams, but with the Ocean Band, it weighs 95 grams — and you really can notice the difference on your wrist.

Because it’s so slim against your wrist, it’s less bothersome when doing things like typing too, should you have to do that when wearing the smartwatch. I do, and previously, I’d often take the Apple Watch Ultra off because it got in the way. I wore the Ultra for four days, during which time I didn’t need to charge the battery because it lasts so long. It also didn’t get caught on clothes, didn’t get sweaty or feel too tight, and — perhaps most surprisingly of all — blended into the background because the size and weight had been minimized.

Buy this band

The Apple Watch Ultra with the Solo Loop band attached.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The combination of the Apple Watch Ultra and a Solo Loop band stops the smartwatch from looking so much like a tool watch. The case is the focal point because the strap is so simple, and it becomes more wearable in more situations, and with more outfits too.

I wanted to wear the Apple Watch Ultra over the Series 8 due to its statement-making look, but did not want to put up with the standard “lifestyle” band. I wasn’t expecting the basic Solo Loop to be such a success, but I’m really glad I tried it. It has changed the Apple With Ultra entirely, and that’s the mark of a really great watch and band pairing.

The Apple Solo Loop comes in a host of different (and often quite bright) colors and costs $50. The darker colors suit the Apple Watch Ultra, but I’d love to see some out there with the new Canary Yellow Solo Loop. Why not make a bold statement with the band as well as the watch?

The Apple Watch Ultra with the Solo Loop and Ocean Band bands.
The Ocean Band alongside the Apple Watch Ultra with the Solo Loop band. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you haven’t bought a Solo or Braided Loop before, be careful with the sizing. Both of mine are the same size — a size 6 on my 6.5-inch wrist — but I do recommend trying the size Apple suggests and the one below it too. Apple’s sizing tool says I should take a size 7 Solo or Braided Loop, but in reality, it’s far too loose.

Don’t be put off by Apple not explicitly listing the Solo Loop as an Apple Watch Ultra band. It fits perfectly, looks great, and completely changes the way you can wear the smartwatch.

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