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Hands on: Sena Apple Watch case

Sena’s luxury leather Apple Watch travel case is super stylish, but not very practical

Accessory and case maker Sena made a case and charging stand for the Apple Watch, which fulfills a niche that may not exist at all. Rather than produce a stand that’s suitable for the office, a bedside table, or the living room, Sena targeted the traveler. It’s an odd choice, because many Apple Watch owners on the move will have their Apple Watch strapped to their wrist, rather than hidden away in a case.

However, this isn’t just a carrying case, it’s also a dock that’s suitable for bedside or mobile office use. It houses the standard Apple Watch charger, so you can juice up your Watch at night. If you’re the stylish type, who finds the stock Apple Watch charger too ordinary, too inconvenient, or just out of place among your other possessions, then Sena’s case is for you.

A simple, sophisticated design

The Sena case comprises of several parts: A dock into which the standard Apple Watch charging disc clips, a small base section, and a larger top section to keep everything hidden and safe from harm. It magnetically attaches to the base, and is strong enough that you have to tug to separate it. The top certainly won’t pop off when the whole thing falls on the floor, but it’s not the tightest fit. Sena’s case is designed to keep your Watch safe when it’s inside a bag, not your butterfingers.

Sena Apple Watch Case
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Wrapped in leather, the case looks and feels very classy. The leather isn’t overly grainy, and the dark color gives it a subtle feel. You have to take a close look to establish that it’s more than just a textured imitation of leather. The Watch sits on a plinth covered in a micro suede lining. It’s impossible to say after just a week of use if it’ll be durable over time, but it certainly looks great, and maintains the luxury ambience of the Sena dock. The charging disc that comes with the Apple Watch fits inside a specially made housing, and the cable can be wrapped underneath the plinth, then fed out the other side. It’s a neat solution, and reusing the Apple charger helps keep the price sensible.

Your watch may escape into your bag, which defeats the purpose of having it in a case.

To fit the cover over the top, ensuring the Watch is safe inside, the strap needs to be done up. It’s a bit of a pain, because the security of the attachment to the dock depends on which strap is on your Watch. For example, the standard Sport strap is fine, but fiddly to do up on the dock, while a third-party metal link strap was too small to fit properly. The strap was adjusted to fit my wrist and not the Sena dock.

It’s not a huge problem, but if the Watch isn’t tightly secured, it rattles about inside the case when it gets jostled during transit. Of course, if you just have a leather or silicon strap that doesn’t make noise, or you don’t plan on travelling around with the watch case, then you won’t experience the same difficulties. Our complaints are more or less niche problems for a niche product. Just remember, though, the case’s top isn’t securely attached, and it will come off if you’re not careful. That means your watch may escape into your bag, which defeats the whole purpose of having it in a case.

Related: Apple Watch at the ready? Feature-packed WatchOS 2 is out now

However, upon arrival at your destination when you place it on the desk, the Sena Watch case is a really beautiful piece of kit. It’s shown off to the best advantage in snobbier settings, surrounded by leather-clad volumes, oak paneling, and crystal decanters. The Watch sits on the dock with the screen in landscape orientation, so it shows the Nightstand mode when charging. The large top cover can be used to raise the height of the dock in this situation, should it be necessary.

Limitations for travellers and some alternatives

Taking the Sena Leather Watch Case away for the weekend revealed its shortcomings. It sat in my bag for the first day because the Watch was on my wrist. It didn’t need charging the first night, so it stayed where it was until the second night, when I used the charging dock. Then, the case returned to my bag for the journey home, once again without the Watch inside. Just taking the Apple charging disc would’ve taken up less space in my luggage, and done the same job. The Sena case looked cool when it was out, though.

Sena Apple Watch Case
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

These complaints aren’t really a slight against the case itself. It’s very well made from attractive high-quality materials, and its luxury feel is appropriate, given the Apple Watch’s premium price. It also looks fantastic when used as a dock. The $80 price isn’t too extortionate, and it’s equal to Apple’s own wireless — but less attractive — Apple Watch charging dock.

Related: You can buy the official Apple Watch Dock online now

If you want a more stationary dock at a lower price, Native Union’s $60 Apple Watch dock is gorgeous and very sturdy. It’s heavy, though, making it less portable. Belkin also has a dock, which sports charging ports for your iPhone and Watch, for $130. It’s pricier and less portable, but it does charge both devices at the same time with minimal fuss. We’d recommend either of these for anyone who isn’t looking to travel, but wants a nice charger for their Apple Watch.

However, if you envisage making good use of the Sena case’s ability to neatly store your Watch and its charging disc while traveling, you’re not going to be disappointed. The case is light and easy to bring along with you, it manages the charging cable well, and it looks snazzy.

Highs

  • Premium build quality and materials
  • Versatile charger and case
  • Doubles as a stylish charging dock

Lows

  • It’s not useful for everyone
  • Doesn’t clip together securely