In the immediate aftermath of the reveal of the Apple Watch last year, fashion and tech analysts alike scrambled to make sense of the incredible variety of options that were being offered. Different metals, watch faces, display options, and even straps amounted to nearly innumerable combinations. But naturally, a few particular styles and options moved quickly to the forefront of the discussion. Among these was the Milanese loop.
Business Insider’s report on this particular type of strap introduced in the Apple Watch selection opined that the tech company had single-handedly revived a lost design (actually, the description used was “unusual style”). Indeed, as the report points out, a web search for “Milanese loop” a few years ago would have turned up sparse, obscure results, whereas now it calls up dozens of pages about the Apple product.
Once viewed as anything from old fashioned to insufficiently masculine for male use, the Milanese loop—essentially a lightweight, mesh metal strap, fastened by a magnetic apparatus rather than a traditional clasp—has now become a common alternative to other, heavier metal watch straps.
As for the specific appeal of this sort of strap, there are various positives that wearers and critics have pointed toward. An AppleVis review of the band called it “infinitely adjustable,” and cited comfort and ease of use as reasons to consider opting for the Milanese loop over some of the alternatives offered in Apple stores.
Time’s broader look at Apple Watch combinations went so far as to basically label the Milanese loop as the weird option, terming a look involving the loop as “The Risk-Taker” and implying that those who opt for this look are likely those who tend to enjoy making bold, unexpected choices.
Indeed, the broad appeal of the Milanese loop, and of lightweight, mesh metal watch bands in general, appears to come down to different factors for different people. For some, a mesh strap is simply a comfortable alternative to a traditional chain link strap—lighter, smaller, more flexible, and even less likely to pinch (all men know the horrible discomfort of a chain link watch pinching arm hair). For others, the more delicate look of a mesh band is an ideal option for a smaller wrist. And for others, the sheer adjustability of these types of straps just makes them great to throw on and wear casually.
Yet to categorise mesh straps purely as alternative options for those seeking greater comfort or fit would still be an incomplete analysis of the emergence of this trend. In addition to these uses, the mesh strap can also be dressed up for a more formal, high-end look. Lyst’s men’s watches page features a couple of examples that demonstrate how classy a mesh strap can look with an ordinary watch face (as opposed to exclusively a smart watch device), but one in particular stands out in exhibiting the high-end appeal of the look. A rose gold Citizen Eco-drive with a black watch face, enhanced chronograph display, and mesh band is both formal and brilliantly masculine.
Given this range of appeal and functionality, it’s beginning to look like a safe bet that Milanese loops and other mesh bands aren’t going anywhere. In fact, as more mainstream designers adopt the straps for ordinary wristwatches, the trend may even continue to expand well beyond its modern revival.