Nomad is the maker of clever tech accessories for travelers like the Key and Carabiner charging cables, and the recent partnership with Chicago’s Horween Leather Company has disguised battery packs inside good-looking wallets. Nomad’s effort with Horween extends to their new iPhone 7 leather cases and Apple Watch leather bands which we’ve been testing. Read on for our hands-on experience…

Nomad Leather Case for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus closely resembles the Apple Leather Case save for a few differences. Nomad’s version features a slightly different design that fully holds the iPhone 7 from top to bottom; Apple’s version has a full opening along the bottom that exposes parts of the aluminum finish. Apple’s is easier to put on but once in place Nomad’s is more protective.

Nomad relies on high quality leather sourced from Chicago’s Horween Leather Company; Apple describes its leather as European leather. Both age with use and develop a darker worn look. Nomad’s version has a stiffer feel in hand versus Apple’s, especially when flexing the case, which makes it feel a tad bit more durable.

Nomad Leather Case for iPhone 7 Plus, Apple Leather Cases for iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone 7 Plus

While Nomad does cover more of the iPhone with its leather case, you won’t find the clickier metal buttons like on Apple’s. From a practical perspective, I prefer the new metal buttons on Apple’s leather case, but visually I prefer the unified look of having a single material (leather) that creates a button-less look.

Nomad’s Horween Leather will wear like Apple’s European leather, features a covered bottom with cutouts for mic and speaker grills

The Horween leather color is closest to Apple’s Saddle Brown. Nomad’s version has a stiffer, more textured, feel to it. Both leather cases are lined with a micro fiber interior and feature a lip along that front that makes it safe to lay face down.

Nomad Leather Case for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is available for pre-order at $39.95 (the iPhone 6/6s versions are already available). That compares to $45 and $49 for Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Leather Case.

I personally prefer to go caseless unless running or cycling, but Nomad Leather Case is an easy way to dress up your space black iPhone 7 and avoid the micro abrasions.

Nomad’s other Horween Leather product, Strap for Apple Watch, is an even better use of the material. You can configure it for 42mm Apple Watches with either silver or black hardware with traditional and modern builds for the design. The version I tested is modern build for black hardware specifically.

The black hardware version is ideal for either space gray or space black Apple Watches while silver hardware is intended for standard aluminum or stainless steel. The difference is in the color of the lugs and buckle connector.

The black version has a matte finish that’s darker than space gray and not as reflective as space black. I found the finish to match surprisingly well with my space black stainless steel Apple Watch.

The Horween leather paired with the black metal has a very distinct look that fits well with the new Numerals watch face and Walnut color. Not as stark as the all black Milanese Loop or Link Bracelet and still very dressy. Why doesn’t Apple make a similar configuration?

The modern build is a more straight forward look than the heavier traditional build which features stitching and a more aggressive buckle shape. The leather quality feels totally different than Apple’s Classic Buckle bands: Nomad’s Horween leather is sturdier and more rigid than Apple’s thinner and softer leather. The benefit to Nomad’s is that it should age better and withstand more abuse if needed. It just requires some initial wear to get the shape and fit right as it’s stiffer out of the box.

Two loops are connected to the top strap: one fixed to the end and one adjustable with a double stitch hidden underneath. My only complaint with Nomad Leather Strap is that the sizing of the 42mm band doesn’t accommodate smaller to medium wrists as well as Apple’s bands. I preferred the second to smallest notch with only one smaller notch and six larger notches available. For reference, I prefer the third largest notch on the S/M Sport band.

Nomad is conservative on the branding: there’s a barely-visible logo on the metal buckle which is the only external facing branding. A second Nomad logo can be found on the inside of the bottom strap while a Horween Leather Co. logo is stamped on the inside of the top strap.

Nomad Leather Strap is priced at $59.95, considerably more affordable than Apple’s $149 Classic Buckle, without compromising on build quality one bit. The Horween leather strap has a very rich look to it and the black hardware offers more customization than Apple’s own bands with space gray and space black Apple Watches.