Any modern smartwatch that’s good value for money comes with a replaceable strap. So it’s no surprise that Google is reportedly working on multiple strap options for its upcoming Pixel Watch.according to 9to5Googlethe company is making at least seven straps — including one shown at the I/O keynote — for use in smartwatches launching this fall.
to date, 9to5Google Google is reportedly working on a Milanese-style mesh strap, two types of leather straps, a link bracelet, a fabric strap, and a silicone strap. It is also said to be working on a stretchable option reminiscent of Apple’s Solo Loop. If this sounds like Google took a few pages from Apple’s playbook, it is. We still don’t know most of the Pixel Watch’s specs, but from what we do know, it’s clear Google is trying to go head-to-head with the Apple Watch. Offering similar strap options complies with this strategy.
A watch—whether analog or smart—is an expression of personal style. The Pixel Watch won’t reach a wider audience unless Google gives people a choice. Google is safest using a standard 20-22mm watch strap. That would at least ease the burden on Google itself and give customers dozens of stylish options that also work with mechanical or analog watches.
However, it didn’t do that. It opted for its own proprietary strap, as we saw in the sizzle at Google I/O. So either Google is pretty confident about the design it’s coming up with…or we’re about to see some really ugly or uninspired smartwatch straps from the folks who brought you the Pixel 6 case.
Smartwatch makers — including Apple — typically smell it when it comes to watch bands. As much as I love these gadgets, few of them are as attractive as their “clunky” counterparts. Fitbit’s Horween belt? I hesitate to call those leathers. The ’70s called and they wanted Apple’s leather chain straps back. I don’t even want to talk about the monster of perforated smartwatch straps. Silicone straps are great for workouts but for formal occasions.
I’d say discerning Pixel Watch owners can turn to third-party accessory manufacturers, but using a proprietary strap means no guarantees. If you search on Amazon, there aren’t many stylish options for third-party accessories for Google products. Probably because not many people have bought enough Pixel devices to warrant the investment. If you search for Pixel phone cases on Amazon, you’ll end up with around 7,000 results. A search for iPhone cases yielded over 100,000 results, while a search for Samsung Galaxy cases yielded over 80,000 results. It’s even worse for devices like the Pixel Buds — AirPods’ results ranged from 190 to 10,000-plus. The more choices you have, the more likely your customers will find something that is right for them. When there are slender options, you end up with a look like this.
Ultimately, performance and Wear OS 3 will be the biggest factors in determining whether the Pixel Watch is “good.” That said, enough people think, “Yeah, I’ll pay a premium to have it on my wrist!” That’s important. So it might be wise for Google to make sure that it’s launching a watch band that at least matches that of its competitors. It just ensures that, visually at least, the Pixel Watch doesn’t dazzle us either.