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Apple Watch Series 4, band variety, and the history of gold

Apple Watch has a curvy history with the color gold and accompanying straps. The original 18K gold Apple Watch Edition paired with a range of straps before being discontinued. Aluminum models have included three shades of gold (rose gold, gold, and “new” gold) with Sport and (now discontinued) Woven Nylon bands using gold hardware. Gold variations aren’t sold separately either which makes them somewhat rare.

Apple Watch Series 4 comes in two flavors of gold — aluminum and new stainless steel — but the gold band variety is still limited. While there are few perfect matches, these are some of my favorite pairings.

Special gold bands

Gold aluminum Apple Watch Series 4 pairs with either a Pink Sand Sport Loop or a Pink Sand Sport Band with a gold stainless steel buckle, and you can’t buy the Pink Sand Sport Band with the gold hardware separately.

Gold stainless steel Apple Watch Series 4 pairs with either a Gold Milanese Loop or Sand Sport Band with a gold stainless steel buckle. You can purchase the Milanese Loop separately in gold, but the gold variant of the Sand Sport Band and Pink Sand Sport Band are only sold with Apple Watch Series 4.

Apple currently doesn’t sell its Woven Nylon strap (although discontinued bands have returned before), but it did pair versions of the strap with gold metal with gold versions of the Apple Watch Series 2.

The 18K gold Apple Watch Edition shipped in gold and rose gold hues paired with Sport Band, Classic Buckle (leather straps), and Modern Buckle (leather straps) with gold connectors. These bands were exclusively sold with the original Apple Watch Edition; Apple Watch bands with gold hardware weren’t sold separately.


There was even an ultra rare gold version of the Loop Bracelet gifted by Apple to select celebrities including Beyoncé, Kanye West (yes, it was another era), and the late Karl Lagerfeld. The gold Link Bracelet was never actually sold, but you have to wonder how much it would retail for with the most expensive Apple Watch Edition (38mm with Modern Buckle) carrying an $18,000 price tag.

Aside from the rare gold variations of bands sold with specific Apple Watch models in the past, Apple has only ever sold the Classic Buckle strap with silver hardware.

Gold band dreams

Apple’s current band lineup no longer includes the traditional Classic Buckle design (only Modern Buckle with silver hardware), but I would buy an Apple Classic Buckle with gold hardware for my gold stainless steel Apple Watch in a heartbeat.

The same is true for a theoretical stainless steel gold Link Bracelet. If Milanese Loop can ship in gold stainless steel, it seems possible (although Link Bracelet is steadily falling out of favor for Apple and down in price). Others may want a gold version of the Modern Buckle.

Original Classic Buckle; silver lugs and buckle don’t match and gold isn’t sold separately

If gold stainless steel proves popular with Apple Watch Series 4, perhaps we’ll see Apple prioritize designing more gold bands for gold Apple Watches in the future. Selling Apple Watch bands with gold hardware separately would also increase the add-on value opportunity for Apple. Additional Apple Watch bands are popular for customers, but there are too few official Apple Watch bands with gold hardware to date.

Gold-friendly bands

That leaves three options: shop for third-party Apple Watch straps with gold hardware, mix gold and silver stainless steel metal, or find non-gold options that mix well with gold. We may visit third-party Apple Watch straps with gold hardware in the future, but today we’re looking specifically at Apple’s bands.

As for the second option, your Apple Watch should reflect your style and taste. There’s nothing wrong with pairing a gold Apple Watch with a leather strap with silver hardware, but it’s not for me visually. There are a number of Apple Watch bands with black hardware, however, that I believe pair well with the black and gold Apple Watch Series 4.

Apple Watch Series 4

Gold Milanese Loop

Apple’s Gold Milanese Loop is unique in that it’s a gold metal band that you can buy paired with an Apple Watch Series 4 or separately. I love how it looks and feels — balanced between formal and casual — and it’s nice without being Apple Watch Hermès expensive. I run with my Apple Watch several miles per week, however, and it’s not the lightest or most comfortable band for super active lifestyles.

Black Sport Band

The original 18K gold Apple Watch Edition included a version paired with a black Sport Band with gold hardware. This is the closest you can get to that look with Apple’s options today. The mix of black and gold mesh well (unlike silver and gold). The black pin is essential for me; most Sport bands have silver pins.

Anthracite/Black Nike Sport Band

This is my current go-to Apple Watch band. I love the lightweight, breathable design and the sporty look of the Nike Sport band, and the Anthracite version pairs well with the gold Apple Watch — black pin included.

Celestial Teal/Black Nike Sport Band

The Celestial Teal version is a close runner-up for me. It’s a seasonal color from fall/winter that uses a black pin. I really like how the teal and gold pair — it reminds me of Olympic gold medals — as a more vibrant alternative to anthracite and black.

Summit White Nike Sport Loop

This color variation of the Nike Sport Loop only recently became available as a standalone option; the band was previously only included with an Apple Watch Nike+ Series 4. Apple’s Sport Loop is infinitely adjustable and even more comfortable, and Nike’s yarn is reflective to increase nighttime visibility for runners. Apple Watch Edition paired with a white Sport band with gold hardware. This pairing reminds me of that combination, and the Sport Loop has no metal to mismatch.


The (PRODUCT)RED version of Apple’s Sport Loop was only introduced late last year, and it immediately became my favorite holiday choice. The combination of gold and red is always rich — Iron Man style.

Stone Leather Loop

This is a band combination that will work for most — it’s even displayed under glass in Apple Stores! — but there’s still a mismatch of silver and gold metal. Leather Loop has the slightest amount of silver around the opening of the top half (which appears outward while wearing) so it’s a borderline option personally.

Black Woven Nylon

Apple’s standard black nylon strap has dark thread and black hardware that pair nicely with the gold stainless steel Apple Watch. Unfortunately, Woven Nylon bands are currently discontinued, and the standard black variety has been off the market for even longer. It’s a great pairing but a somewhat rare find now.

Optima Watch Case ($29.99)

Gold Apple Watch band hope

I really like the gold stainless steel Apple Watch and I’m so glad the option was added with the Series 4 design. In the future, I hope more gold bands are sold by Apple to pair with the hardware.

In the meantime, there are plenty more straps from Apple that don’t have metal to match. If mismatching metal doesn’t bother you, the options are even greater. Apple’s silver stainless steel Apple Watch probably has the highest band compatibility in terms of color in my experience, but trying new color watches is appealing for upgraders.

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Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.