This year‘s Apple Watch Series 6 is almost identical to last year’s Series 5. Aesthetically, you can distinguish the two models by looking at the back where the sensors’ array is different, in fact the new blood oxygen feature required new sensors to acquire the readings of the blood’s color.
This new feature has issues as normal oxymeters reads from side to side of a finger, instead the Watch has to use the sensors to get the readings back from the lights it emitted. This can lead to inconsistent or erroneous readings; Apple didn’t obtain the FDA clearance as it did with the ECG and heartbeat sensor. Use it with a grain of salt, it’s not for professional use.
The watch has some minor new quirks and features, not really interesting to be honest. This is my first steel Apple Watch with premium bands, I also tried the new sport solo loop, that’s why I’m gonna focus on the materials and the bands in this article.
Stainless steel, Sapphire crystal and the new graphite color
After dismissing the titanium because of its matte finish very close to the aluminum, I decided to go for the stainless steel version. This year the black has been changed with the Graphite (Only the Hermes version still retains the black color), which is a medium-dark gray, I have a slight preference for the aggressive shiny black but this new tone looks great as well and it’s very changeable depending on the surface it reflects. I am convinced that the premium price you pay for this material, harder than the soft aluminum, is worth it. The shiny and premium look will reward you every day you wear the watch. The graphite color is not scratch-prone as the silver steel, I also think it looks a lot better on a smart watch because the silver reminds me of the classic mechanical watches. The weakness in the design remains the rectangular shape, which has been smoothed since the redesigned Apple Watch Series 4 but there is nothing to do: the rectangle doesn’t look so armonious on the wrist as a shape which is closer to a circle.
With the stainless steel you also get the cellular version which is recognizable by the red circle on the digital crown and the sapphire crystal which is more resistant than the ion X on the basic model.
The Graphite Milanese Loop, the Leather Link and the Solo Loop
Together with a premium material goes a special band. When you purchased the watch there is a feature called Apple studio so you are able to order the exact combo of watch and band that you prefer.
I started with the Graphite milanese loop because it was sold together since the first iteration. It’s made of a stainless steel mesh, treated with a physical vapor deposition (PVD), that wraps fluidly around the wrist. And because it’s fully magnetic, the Milanese Loop is infinitely adjustable, ensuring a perfect fit. It looks very nice, it has a medieval look at it resembles the mesh worn by the knights for protection in the battles. Unfortunately it has two defects that led me to not wear it again. Firstly, it comes in only one size so that for small wrist there is so much extra material that it almost makes a complete double loop. Secondly, the worst problem is that the hairs and the fabric of your sweater/shirt get trapped inside the mesh, if you accidentally touch your hairs you will feel them pulled and it will ruin your sweater after coming in contact with the fabric. Too bad, I can’t wear something I am constantly worried about.
After the failure with the milanese loop I wanted a premium band and of course it had to be the new Leather Link. It features handcrafted Roux Granada leather made in France. The strap elegantly wraps around the wrist and attaches with flexible moulded magnets that flex to help maintain a secure fit. It looks and smell very nice. Due to the continuous interruption of the surface made by the protrusion of the magnets it is not as elegant as the Hermes bands but it’s a good compromise. It comes in two sizes so you don’t have the inconvenience of that ill-fitting look of the Milanese loop or the sport loop if your wrist is at one of the extremities of the range. I’ve heard doubts about the chance that the magnets are not strong enough and they will come apart in the worst scenario, I can say that it’s very unlikely, the magnets are super strong and they act on a very long surface, they are not located just in the last centimeter. The only complaint? That the part where the magnets attach to each other remains a little flat, it’s not flexible and it loses the natural circular shape.
Together with the Apple Watch series 6, Apple debuted a new band called Solo Loop and it’s so important in the lineup that the Apple Watch band on the app icon on iOS was changed from the sport band to this. It’s a single piece made of stretchable liquid silicone rubber designed for ultracomfort with no buckles. It’s quintessential Apple: minimal and functional. It’s very comfortable to wear and you can download the template to measure your wrist size and be sure you order the correct one. If you are between sizes go with the smaller one. You slide it in and you’re good to go.
In the end I love the Apple Watch Series 6 in the graphite stainless steel, I think that it looks as good as it can with the current design, the width/thickness ratio is fine and the rounded edges contribute to reduce the perceived size. The solo loop (for sport and if you have to get in the water) coupled with a Premium band like the leather loop is a great combination to enjoy your smart watch in every occasion! As all the possible sensors that are foreseeable have already been embedded I wonder how next year watch will look like, will there be a new design with square edges like the iPhone and iPad?
What do you expect from 2021 Apple Watch?