This year’s launch of the new Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE was also accompanied by a new selection of watch bands, as new Apple Watch releases usually are, however the two most significant options Apple is offering up this year could add a whole new set of challenges for Apple Watch buyers.
Traditionally, almost all of the standard Apple Watch bands have used the traditional concept of a buckle; while the actual design of the buckle is somewhat innovative, the principle remains the same as for just about every watch strap or belt ever made — specifically that you can adjust it to your preferred size.
This year, however, Apple offered up two “revolutionary” designs in the form of the Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop, marking the first time that an entry-level Apple Watch band has been made in a one-piece design, and the first time that Apple has ever offered a single band in a total of twelve different sizes.
To be clear, it’s a clever and unique design, allowing users to simply slip their Apple Watch over their wrist without having to fiddle with buckles or fasteners, but it also means that you’ll need to measure your wrist in order to get the right size, since it’s also not adjustable in any way at all.
In fact, according to 9to5Mac, Apple has actually gone so far as to not only provide a full range of Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop bands for customers to try on in its stores, but has also created a personalized sizing experience with in-store specialists to make sure that you get the Solo Loop that’s right for you.
Unfortunately, in the midst of a pandemic, there’s a good chance that visiting an Apple Store in person to buy the Apple Watch isn’t something that’s high on your list of priorities, and Apple recognizes that many people are going to be ordering the Apple Watch online. So to that end, it’s also offered up a clever online sizing guide to help you measure your wrist and make sure you get the right size — and you’d better make sure you use this tool, because if you order the wrong size, getting it exchanged could be a pain.
No Individual Exchanges
From what MacRumors has found, it seems that if you happen to get the wrong size Solo Loop or Braided Solo Loop with your Apple Watch Series 6 or Apple Watch SE, the only way to get it exchanged is to return the entire Apple Watch along with it.
There are complaints about Apple’s return policy for the Apple Watch bands on Twitter and on a long discussion of the Solo Loop and Braided Solo Loop bands on the MacRumors forums. Apple Watch models that are not fitting properly must be returned in full, and Apple’s online support staff has been offering no alternative.MacRumors
The problem is that even though Apple now packages the Apple Watch bands in a modular box design, the band and watch are still considered a single product in a “configure-to-order” purchase, and therefore there’s officially no way to exchange just the band — you have to return the entire thing, watch and all.
To make matters worse, the Apple Watch Series 6 and accompanying bands are naturally in very high demand right now, so if you’re forced to return your whole Apple Watch you could find yourself waiting until November to actually get a replacement.
According to MacRumors, some customers have been successful in getting their band swapped out at an Apple retail store, but it’s unclear right now if that’s Apple’s official policy or if they’ve just been lucky enough to encounter accommodating retail staff members. Further, even if you’re fortunate enough to live near an Apple Store that’s open right now, there’s really no guarantee that it will have replacement bands in stock.
So if you plan to order the new Solo Loop or Braided Solo Loop with your Apple Watch, as the old saying goes you’ll want to be sure to “measure twice and cut once” before pulling the trigger on your order.
It also seems that if you’re not quite sure of the exact size — say because the sizing guide has you in between two numbers — you’re most likely better to go with the smaller one of the two, as the bands naturally still need to be stretchy enough to go over your hand, and yet tight enough so that the health sensors will actually work.