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Review: Twelve South’s Forté brings more Apple design DNA to Apple Watch stands


Twelve South’s original Apple Watch stand, HiRise for Apple Watch, was early to market for a reason: it was derived from the company’s popular HiRise stands for iPhones, tweaked just enough to hold and charge the smaller Watch. It made our list of the Best Apple Watch Stands and Docks because it was a good first stab at the category, but based on Twelve South’s many cool Mac, iPad, and iPhone accessories, I knew that the company could do better.

Five months after HiRise hit stores, Twelve South has released Forté ($60), a considerably classier Apple Watch stand that looks and feels far closer to an Apple design. Replacing HiRise’s sandblasted aluminum with a chrome-plated metal alloy and grain leather, Forté has the good looks and substantial weight of an Apple dock, with only a couple of telltale signs that it’s a third-party product. Read on for the details…

Key Details:

  • Gorgeous chrome and black leather design
  • Matches steel Apple Watch, works with any Apple Watch
  • Holds Watch upright or in landscape for Nightstand Mode
  • Requires Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable


While all of Twelve South’s products are packaged in stiff, fabric-wrapped cardboard, Forté’s package looks and feels like a premium watch box, complete with a magnetic closure, a ribbon pull to remove the stand, and an instruction manual pocket. A white liner outside the box spotlights its use with three stainless steel Apple Watches, which it matches beautifully, rather than the aluminum-bodied (and arguably more HiRise-appropriate) Apple Watch Sport.


Forté arrives assembled, so you’ll need to pull off its front chrome ring — the only part made from plastic, though it matches the rest of the stand — and insert an Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable, feeding the wire down a kinked groove in the back. With the cable in place, you replace the chrome ring on the top, and that’s it: Forté is ready to hold your Watch on a 30-degree recline just over 2″ from the surface of a table. A very substantial weight in the base, plus a black rubber pad on the bottom, keep it from slipping around once you’ve chosen a location on your desk or nightstand.

Rounded and gleaming in the light, the design is gorgeous and largely practical, though imperfect in a couple of ways. On positive notes, the chrome and grain leather-padded base look appropriately luxurious, surpassing the materials in Mophie’s slick Dock for Apple Watch. You can mount your Watch in portrait or landscape orientation, which means that Forté is Nightstand Mode-compatible, though you’ll need to pinch your magnetically-secured Apple Watch to use its buttons without dislodging it, a sore point with one of our editors.


The other issue is the rear cable-managing channel, which looks and feels a little odd. This is partially because Twelve South created a U-shaped gap in the bar to accommodate closed-loop Apple Watch bands — a wise idea — but the shape detracts a little from the design’s looks; Mophie’s Dock for Apple Watch achieved the same functionality with less of a visual oddity by using a left-mounted bar rather than a centered one, and completely covering the cable. Additionally, though you won’t see it when the stand is viewed face-on, the bar’s chrome back remains open and feels a little jagged to the touch. Given how much polish the rest of the stand possesses, it feels like Forté was originally designed to be shipped with Apple’s Magnetic Charging Cable pre-installed, but tweaked late in the game to lower its price or get it to stores faster.


Overall, Forté is a very nice stand that will have particular appeal to owners of the stainless steel Apple Watch, and fans of the sort of design luxury that chrome and leather can achieve when used cleanly together. Given the materials and look, Forté’s $10 premium over the decidedly aluminum HiRise strikes me as reasonable, and this is certainly one of the nicest $60 Apple Watch stands I’ve tested. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a (more expensive) Forté Deluxe ship with an integrated charging puck and cable, eliminating at least one of Forté’s small imperfections. That’s just a guess, but based on Twelve South’s history of “good then better” releases, something I’m looking forward to seeing.

Twelve South
Apple Watch

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  1. srgmac - 7 years ago

    Is there anything Twelve South makes that isn’t cool as hell? I have the magic wand — I love that thing. I hope they have a new one coming out that fits the new keyboard and trackpad.

  2. 89p13 - 7 years ago

    Let’s see – $60 for this or $11.00 for the Spigen® Apple Watch Stand [S350]. I’ll pocket the $49 and be very happy.


    • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

      I really like quite a few of Spigen’s products, but comparing the S350 to Forté is like comparing Pebble Time to the Apple Watch. They’re technically the same in concept, but worlds apart in execution.

      • Not quite worlds apart in execution when you consider Time Travel on the Apple Watch OS is a direct copy of the whole premise of the Pebble Time eh.

      • mockery17 - 7 years ago

        @AuntyTroll username checks out.

      • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

        Yeah. They both have built in clocks, too.

      • 89p13 - 7 years ago

        Much like the difference between the Apple Stainless Steel watch and the Eddition watch – same functionality but is the “Bling Factor” worth the tremendous price difference?

        That takes nothing away from either product – It’s up to the buyer and where they see the value.

      • Catherine Rot - 7 years ago

        Judging from this particular case, I would say that you may need a few lessons on industrial design, before making such strong statements as Spigen and Twelve South being worlds apart.

      • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

        I judged Apple accessory industrial design multiple times for the Consumer Electronics Association’s annual Innovations awards. Maybe we could share lessons with one another.

      • Catherine Rot - 7 years ago

        … and my major was IDE at RCA, London, but that may not be relevant right now. Your praise of a product that looks like some Chinese knock-off that sells on eBay in large quantities for 10-15$ (like those business card cases, USB hubs and iPhone docks/stands) is really disappointing. I would understand if you had friends at TwelveSouth. Otherwise, there are better (visual and functional) choices for the same price.

      • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

        @Catherine: Are you seriously suggesting that Forte looks like a Chinese knockoff/OEM product? I’ve seen more than my fair share of them, and honestly can’t imagine how you would come to that conclusion. S350, by comparison, looks like dozens of low-end Apple Watch stands I’ve seen in recent months, which is precisely why I described them as being distant in execution.

        I don’t have friends at Twelve South. But I can tell you that If you had any idea what this particular accessory’s design history was, specifically who was actually involved in its creation, you wouldn’t be so dismissive. Unless of course you work for another accessory company.

      • Catherine Rot - 7 years ago


        You also reviewed a bunch of cheap looking iPhone 6/6+ battery cases, if I recall correctly. There you have a perfect example of how details can change the overall impression of a product (ie. Mophie cases).

        You are right about the design history of this product though – by the sound of it I would say it must be really exciting. And there is a designer celebrity involved in the process, you say? What does that say about the product? Does it mean that it is de facto awesome?

        I do not work for any accessory maker. I just browse around and see what people come up with. So far I really like companies such as Elevation Lab, Grovemade, Mophie, Hard Graft and so on. Then, there are companies who come up with a nice product every once in a while, such as Rain Design’s mTower or Cooler Master’s L-Stand.

      • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

        @Catherine I’m honestly not really sure what point you’re currently trying to make, but thanks for your opinions.

      • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

        Footnote to the above: Twelve South is now publicly confirming that it worked hand-in-hand with Apple on Forté’s design, as hinted in the title of the review.

  3. Apple watch is always great for me.

  4. Smigit - 7 years ago

    Too bad they didn’t provide a back piece to the bar to conceal the cable and hide the edges. I know you won’t see it 95% of the time, but this does look a bit more unpolished than most of Twelve Souths designs typically do.

    • Jeremy Horwitz - 7 years ago

      Agreed. It’s a blemish on the design.

    • Wow I didn’t even notice it until you said that. Couldn’t agree more. There should be a curved piece that snaps into place when the cable is routed through it to finish off the design. Sure it would make the cable harder to remove for travel, but if you’re someone who will spend the money on a stand like this, you probably already own a spare charger for travel.

  5. Michael Kummer - 7 years ago

    I like my two Fortés but as I have pointed out in my review (, I still keep knocking down my Apple Watch from time to time when sliding the iPhone out from underneath the watch band. That’s something that could be fixed by adding a bit more room between the base and the dock.