The Apple Watch is a constant companion for a lot of people who are either fitness buffs or just trying to keep track of life in general without having to pull out an iPhone. There are times, however, where it's not a good idea to have that Watch strapped to your wrist. For example, when you're lifting weights it's possible to smack a weight right into your wrist and damage your Watch. During kickboxing or cross-fit you might be using protective gear or need full wrist movement, so the Watch gets to wait in the locker while you have a workout. Twelve South has the answer in the new $29.99 ActionSleeve Armband for Apple Watch.
The design of the ActionSleeve not only replaces the traditional Watch wristband with a strap that wraps around the upper arm or bicep, but it also adds protection. The Watch is removed from whatever wristband you're using by pressing the band release buttons on the back of the device and then sliding the band out. Next, you push it into the back of a silicone shell that is part of the ActionSleeve. The shell provides full access to all of the regular controls of the Watch.
Putting on the ActionSleeve is easy -- the strap is covered in Velcro™ and has a metal loop on one end. Put the strap loosely through the loop leaving room for your arm or bicep, move the arm into place, pull the strap until it is comfortably snug on your arm, then fasten it with the Velcro. That strap, by the way, comes in a brilliant red or in a more sedate black.
In case you're wondering -- and it was the first question I had about the ActionSleeve -- you will still get accurate heart rate readings. In fact, since the ActionSleeve is more consistently snug on the arm, you may find that your heart rate monitoring is improved over wearing the Watch on your wrist.
There are actually three models of the ActionSleeve -- one for the 38mm Watch, one for the 42mm Watch and another for 42mm that's designed for more slender arms.
Are you wondering how long it takes to remove a Watch wristband and install the Watch in an ActionSleeve? I timed it at about 24 seconds, and that was with me fumbling. If you do this quite often, you could probably get the "switch" down to 15 seconds or so.
Your Watch will no longer respond to the "raising your wrist" gesture, so you'll need to either tap the face of the Watch or press the Digital Crown to check the time or get access to functions. The ActionSleeve is very comfortable and stays snugly in place.
It does take a little getting used to looking at your bicep instead of your wrist, but the positioning of the Watch on the upper arm for exercising makes a lot of sense. When you're swinging your arms or holding onto equipment, it's too easy to damage the Watch when it's on your wrist. Moving it up the arm really moves the Watch out of harm's way.
It really surprises me that nobody had come up with this idea before Twelve South. The ActionSleeve Armband is reasonably priced, seems quite durable, and does a top-notch job of keeping the Watch in place on your upper arm.