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Watch band designers get official guidance from Apple

Watch band designers get official guidance from Apple

May 5, 2015

Until now, companies that wanted to design watch bands for Apple’s newest wearable device had to create their products through reverse engineering. Manufacturers had no resources other than the smartwatch itself, but Cupertino has made the design process easier with the release of a set of design guidelines for accessory makers.

The document, “Band Design Guidelines for Apple Watch,” provides a detailed overview of stringent regulations third-party accessory makers need to adhere to if they plan on marketing Watch-compatible straps. The guidelines document also hints at an upcoming “Made for Apple Watch” designation. However, the document expressly states that the guidelines themselves “do not entitle you to use the ‘Made for Apple Watch’ name or logo, and you agree not to use the foregoing in connection with any Apple Watch band, accessory, or otherwise, except as expressly authorized by Apple in a separate written agreement.”

Among the requirements, Apple has stipulated in the document that bands cannot incorporate magnetic chargers or any other design aspect that might interfere with the heart rate sensors. There is also a set of environmental requirements and stipulations about how durable the bands and lugs should be. Manufacturers can produce their own lugs, or can soon obtain official Apple Watch Lug components through an authorized distributor for use within third-party bands. Apple provides a set of dimensional drawings for both the smartwatch and the lugs within the Guidelines document.

This new developer resource is an important next step in expanding the customization of Apple Watch. Designers will be able to access the guidelines as well as a Drawing Exchange Format (DXF) file for mocking up designs in drafting software like AutoCad. While magnetic chargers integrated into watch bands are prohibited, no mention is made of the hidden diagnostic port. Perhaps Apple is going to allow accessory makers to utilize that port for charging, as the makers of Reserve Strap are planning to do.

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