Apple Watch Studio: Hands-on with the in-store personalization experience

The Apple Watch has always been Apple’s most customizable product. To make choosing a case and band that fits your own style easier, Apple is introducing a new retail feature called Apple Watch Studio alongside the Series 5. Available both online and in-store, Apple Watch Studio lets you mix and match styles to build your own personalized model. Here’s how the process will work when you walk in to an Apple Store.

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Prior to Apple Watch Series 5, Apple offered only a standard set of watch models with preassigned case and band combinations. Apple’s styles are tasteful, but represent just a small slice of the options available for every model. If you wanted a band not included in a stock configuration, you’d have to buy it separately. This added expense to many purchases and could leave you with a band you might never wear. Last year, Apple began wrapping Series 4 watches and bands separately and trialing new store displays, changes that foreshadowed Apple Watch Studio.

Beginning September 20, Apple Stores will offer a new table dedicated to the Apple Watch Studio experience. Wooden trays filled with an assortment of bands unpaired from watch cases let you get hands on with every material and style. Leather mats are provided for the try-on experience. Separate trays in the center of the table carry a variety of loose watch cases. These trays have special cutouts milled to fit both case sizes with a leather pad to hold the watch in place.

A member of Apple’s store team will explain the options available to you and answer questions about the differences between each model and material. You can freely mix and match any of the inventory displayed to see which look fits your style. More options are available inside the table’s drawers if you ask an employee for a specific band. When you’re ready to buy, iPad Pros on the Studio table run a custom app similar to the Apple Watch Studio online experience. Swipe between case and band styles to build the design you picked and see pricing.

One caveat of the online experience is that you can’t mix and match between collections, meaning you can’t purchase a Nike Sport Band with a titanium case or a Hermès case with a non-Hermès band. In person, there’s technically nothing stopping you from trying these unsupported combinations if the display inventory is available. However, Apple says that mixing and matching is only available within collections. If you want a different band, you can buy it separately later.

If you’re within visiting distance of an Apple Store, the Apple Watch Studio is the best way get hands on with Apple Watch Series 5 and see which bands you prefer before making an investment. Apple says nearly 1,000 combinations can be configured. If you can’t get to a physical store, the online Studio tool is nearly as robust. You won’t get the expertise of Apple’s staff or the ability to sample different watch faces with the band of your choice, but the flexibility of customizing to your heart’s content adds delight to the purchase experience.

Picking up a new Apple Watch on launch day? Check out the 9to5Mac Watch Time podcast to learn more about how the Apple Watch is making a real impact on people’s lives. Follow 9to5Mac’s retail guide for in-depth coverage of the latest Apple Store news.

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Avatar for Michael Steeber Michael Steeber

I’m a Creative Editor passionate about Apple Retail and design. My stories highlight the work of talented artists, designers, and customers through a unique lens of architecture, creativity, and community.

Twitter: @MichaelSteeber