Tested: Apple's Magnetic Charging Dock, and 4 other Nightstand-mode-ready Apple Watch stands

These stands turn your Watch into the perfect bedside companion.

apple watch magnetic charging dock
Credit: Apple

When Apple introduced Nightstand mode in watchOS2, most of the stands in our recent round-up became obsolete—well, obsolete for those of you who want to take advantage of this new convenient charging mode. Nightstand mode only activates when the Apple Watch is oriented horizontally (though it doesn’t have to be sitting at 90 degrees—45 will work just fine), and many stands on the market only let you orient your Watch vertically.

And then, a couple of months after watchOS2 and Nightstand mode debuted, Apple also dropped its very own Nightstand-mode-ready $79 charging dock. But because Apple shouldn’t be your only choice for Apple Watch accessories, we tried out the Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock and four other Nightstand-mode-ready Apple Watch stands to see what your best bedside option is.

Apple's Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock

We’ll start with Apple. The $79 Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock is the only official charging dock on the market. This dock is hardly a dock at all—it has a coaster-like design, which is very similar to the BlueLounge Kosta, and a built-in charging puck that can lie flat or pop up to support Nightstand mode. It comes in just one color: White, with a dove gray base and silver hardware.

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The Magnetic Charging Dock isn’t much to look at—and I don’t mean that in a “wow, it’s so minimalist” kind of way. It’s a flat, white disc that measures just over four inches in diameter. It’s slightly raised in the center, where the charging puck lives inside a polished silver metal frame, and tapers off toward the edges. The top of the dock is covered in soft white rubbery material, while the underside sports dove gray suede. The dock is relatively heavy, so it won’t move or fall off your bedside table when you snatch your Watch off the puck in the morning.

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The puck in the center of the Magnetic Charging Dock is plastic, but its sides and back are encased in metal. The puck is on a sturdy hinge, and pops up to work with Nightstand mode on the Watch. When you use this dock in Nightstand mode, your Watch and its band sit securely on the soft white rubbery material of the dock. But when you use this dock in non-Nightstand mode, the buckle of your Watch’s band (and possibly more, depending on the length) falls off the coaster.

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The Magnetic Charging Dock is simple and well-made, but it’s just not very attractive. There’s a lip of material around the edge of the dock where the upper white material and the lower gray material meet, which makes the dock look unfinished. Design-wise, the dock looks so much like a coaster that I accidentally put my drink down on it a few times. And while the upper material feels soft and luxurious, it’s also white and, I imagine, difficult to clean.

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My favorite thing about this dock is that it comes with an extra-long Lightning cable that plugs into the back. This cuts down on the amount of cords you need to organize and travel with, because the Lightning cable can also charge your iPhone when it’s not charging your Watch. A two-meter Lightning cable costs $29 on Apple’s website, so that makes the dock a little more affordable. But you’re still paying $50 for a dock that’s as aesthetically impressive as the $15 BlueLounge Kosta (which comes in three easier-to-keep-clean colors).

Native Union DOCK for Apple Watch

If you’re looking for minimalism worthy of an Apple product, the $60 Native Union DOCK for Apple Watch is beautiful and versatile. This dock sports a simple pedestal-like design and lets you display your Watch in both the traditional display mode and Nightstand mode. The $60 DOCK comes in one color—slate gray with a silver aluminum cylinder—but Native Union also sells a $120 luxury version, which features a solid marble base in black (with a silver aluminum cylinder) and white (with a gold aluminum cylinder).

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This dock comes in two parts: A square, weighted base covered in soft gray silicone, and a spinning silver aluminum cylinder, which houses the charging puck and cord. Native Union’s logo is neatly engraved on the back of the gray silicone base. The two pieces are held together with strong magnets, but the cylinder is on a rotor, which allows it to rotate 360 degrees.

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The cylinder has a circular cutout for the charging puck, as well as a clever hidden cord management system inside it. To place your puck in the DOCK, you’ll need to separate the cylinder from its base and put your puck in the circular cutout. The cutout isn’t deep enough to conceal the puck’s edges, so you’ll see quite a bit of your charging puck sticking out—it’s not incredibly ugly, but it does take away from the DOCK’s sleek minimalism. The cord from your puck travels down, into the cylinder, where you can wrap it around the base of the cylinder a couple of times. It then snakes out the back, opposite the charging puck.

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Once the puck and cable are in place, you can put the cylinder back in the base. The cord awkwardly sticks out of the cylinder—in order for it to continue to rotate 360 degrees, the cord can’t be hidden through the base of the DOCK.

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The DOCK is very attractive, but it does have its downsides. Once you place the charging puck and cable in the DOCK, it loses some of its sexiness. Also, the silicone on the base is a dust magnet. But this is still an excellent Nightstand-ready Watch dock—it’s prettier (and cheaper) than Apple’s version, it supports both Nightstand and regular modes, and it’s very versatile.

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Pad & Quill Timber Nightstand for Apple Watch

Pad & Quill’s $90 Timber Nightstand functions as both a dock and a display tray for your bedside table. This hardwood stand has a relatively large footprint (the base measures 4.75 inches long by 6.5 inches wide), because it includes a grooved tray for storing extra Apple Watch bands. The handmade Timber Nightstand comes in three finishes: American Cherry, Exotic Sapele, and Premium American Walnut, which costs an additional $30.

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The Timber Nightstand can only display your Watch in Nightstand mode. At the front of the stand, there’s a small, square piece of wood where your Watch will sit. This piece of wood has a circular cutout for the charging puck, as well as a hole large enough for a pen to fit through (to make removing the charging puck easier). To put the puck into the Timber, you thread the puck’s cable through a USB-plug-sized square hole at the bottom of the cutout. The cable runs through a groove underneath the stand and out the back.

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Once it’s positioned inside the Timber, the puck does not lie completely flush with the wood. This didn’t bother me too much, however, because the edges of the puck only overlap by a millimeter at most. Your Watch rests on a small strip of leather branded with Pad & Quill’s logo, and the band circles behind the charging puck.

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Behind the Watch, there’s a groove that’s perfectly-sized to fit an extra band. The groove does not have a lip on either side, so it’s not ideal for jewelry or change—for a true “catchall” style Watch stand, You can pick up Pad & Quill’s $100 Timber Catchall. The Timber Nightstand looks great with an additional band displayed, but if you have more than one extra band it will start to look messy.

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The Timber Nightstand is an attractive wooden stand, but its design won’t appeal to everyone. To me, it’s reminiscent of wooden catchall dishes my father used to have by his bed—it looks a little too masculine and old-fashioned for my taste. But it’s a sturdy stand—it has five small rubber feet on the bottom for extra grippiness—and it does make a lovely display tray for your bands.

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SchuttenWorks RIPPLE for Apple Watch

SchuttenWorks’ $54 RIPPLE for Apple Watch is a very simple Nightstand-only Apple Watch dock with a unique magnetic closure that cleverly hides the Watch’s charging cable. The wooden RIPPLE comes in multiple finishes, including bamboo, walnut, and mahogany, and fits both the plastic and the metal charging pucks.

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At first glance, the RIPPLE looks like a single, solid piece of carved wood. The front has a precision-cut hole that fits the charging puck (when you order your RIPPLE you can specify if you’d like it cut for the plastic or the metal charging puck), and a small rounded ledge where your Watch’s face rests. The back of the RIPPLE has a gently-sloping ledge for your closed strap, as well as a small hole for the charging cable to exit. SchuttenWorks’ logo is engraved on the right side of the dock.

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But while the RIPPLE looks like a single, solid piece of carved wood, it’s not. It actually comes apart— right down the middle, though the pieces fit together so perfectly that you can barely see the seam. Inside the RIPPLE, there are magnets, dowels (for fitting the pieces perfectly back together), and a groove that hides the charging cable. To install the charging puck, simply separate the two pieces and place the puck and cable in one side, and then snap the two pieces back together. SchuttenWorks isn’t lying when they say the cutout for the charging puck is precision-cut—the puck fits perfectly into the hole and lies completely flush with the wood around it.

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The RIPPLE isn’t very heavy—so to keep it from sliding around on your bedside table (or falling off), SchuttenWorks has attached two strips of advanced micro suction tape to its underside. This tape isn’t particularly sticky when you touch it, but it creates friction between the stand and any surface, so the stand won’t slide or fall off, and you can reposition the stand without worrying about residue. Micro suction tape will not work on a vertical surface. The inside of the charging puck cutout also has micro suction tape to keep everything perfectly in place.

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The RIPPLE is simple and very, very well-made. Like the Timber Nightstand, its wooden design might not appeal to everyone, but it’s beautifully crafted. The RIPPLE is also the smallest stand in our round-up, with a footprint of just 1.5 inches wide and 3 inches long.

Twelve South Forté for Apple Watch

The $60 Twelve South Forté is a gorgeous metal and leather Apple Watch stand that supports both Nightstand mode and the traditional Apple Watch display mode. The Forté features a black leather base, shiny chrome accents, and a design that cleverly hides the charging cable. Unlike the other stands in our round-up, the Forté holds your Watch at a 45-degree angle, even in Nightstand mode—so this could be a good solution for people with tall mattresses and low tables. The Forté comes in just one color combo, black and silver.

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The Forté has a large, flat base that measures approximately 3.25 inches wide by 3.75 inches long. The base has chrome edges and is covered in soft black leather. The base is weighted—this stand won’t move too much, despite the fact that its bottom sports black foam instead of a grippier substance. At the back of the base, a single silver tube extends, curving once, and culminating in a circular charging puck holder. The charging puck holder is lined in black rubber and has a removable silver frame that hides the sharp edges and makes the stand look more polished. This frame is made of plastic, though it’s painted in chrome.

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To put the charging puck in the Forté, all you have to do is remove the silver frame and place the puck into the holder. The cord snakes down the silver tube, tucking inside it until it reaches the bottom, where it simply exits the back of the stand. It’s one of the easiest charging puck installations of any stand I’ve used, and it still looks excellent. Place the frame over the puck once you have the cord in place, and you’re ready to go.

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Your Watch can sit on the stand in regular display mode—in which case the band will be able to hang through the curve in the silver tube—or in Nightstand mode. Because my bedside table is at the same height as my mattress, I found this stand to be a bit difficult to use in Nightstand mode—the arm is tall (approximately 3.35 inches tall), and so it was a little difficult to see the Watch at a 45-degree angle.

The Forté may not be as minimalist or rustic as some of the other stands in our round-up, but it has a very polished, luxurious look to it. The polished chrome and sumptuous leather look particularly appropriate with the higher-end Apple Watches.

This story, "Tested: Apple's Magnetic Charging Dock, and 4 other Nightstand-mode-ready Apple Watch stands" was originally published by Macworld.