Apple published guidelines for creating third party Apple Watch bands to its developer website on Monday. The website includes a 12-page PDF titled "Band Design Guidelines for Apple Watch" and a link for downloading the Apple Watch lug profile. The "Made for Apple Watch" program does not include guidelines for other accessories such as chargers.
These guidelines will help manufacturers create Apple-approved bands which will utilize the company's proprietary connector. Apple says the lugs which connect a band to the Apple Watch body will be "available soon through the Made for Apple Watch program." The guidelines also note that a "well-designed band will securely attach to Apple Watch while not interfering with its operation." Other requirements include that all bands pass a "72 hour salt mist test as specified in ASTM B117" and that no bands can contain "magnetic chargers".
Third party bands are going to be as important to the Apple Watch as apps are to the iPhone. Apple is going to need manufacturers to create a variety of interesting band choices for customers if they want to market the Watch as a fashion accessory. The Apple Watch is not a "necessity" like a smartphone and the actual Watch body isn't really that attractive itself. Apple may be pushing the Watch as a fitness option, but the Made for Apple Watch program and recent fashion magazine campaigns prove that the Watch is really just a piece of personal jewelry.
The Made for Apple Watch program will also help customers avoid cheap bands that could damage their Watch, or not securely attach to the device. Several non-approved Watch bands have already popped up on websites like Amazon.com. Customers should carefully check product ratings before buying any third-party accessories.