Twelve South now offers two different types of accessories for the Apple Watch, because two is better than one. After successfully launching its HiRise stand and dock for the Apple Watch, Twelve South's latest addition to its Apple Watch accessory lineup includes the Forte - an elegantly designed charging stand with a polished high-end look and feel that may even remind you of Apple's original iPhone. Blending chromed metal with genuine leather, Twelve South's Forte will work with all Apple Watch models and watch bands in either portrait or Nightstand mode orientations – making it one of the more multifaceted charging stands out right now. But does it live up to expectations? Let's find out!
In typical Twelve South fashion, the Forte comes inside a square box that's too impressive to throw away. Which is why you should find ways of repurposing it. Inside you'll find a set of Twelve South stickers, a user guide and of course the Forte. A red pull tab helps you pull the Forte out of its wonderful, and soon-to-be repurposed, home. Twelve South has gone above and beyond with the attention to detail this time and it has certainly paid off because everyone will be taking notice. Packaging this beautiful deserves recognition.
Although Belkin is one of the first to introduce a charging accessory for the Apple Watch with a magnetic charging disk already integrated into the stand for as much as $130, Twelve South is keeping costs down by letting you use your own Apple Watch charging cable with the Forte.
You don't need any tools to set up the Forte and it's as easy as pulling off the chrome ring (which is polycarbonate to help protect that Apple Watch from contacting bare metal), inserting your magnetic charging disk into the rubber-lined ring and then reinserting the polycarbonate ring around it to secure the charging disk in position. The ring and rubber lining both to a fantastic job in keeping the charging disk secured inside the Forte and make it seem like it's part of the stand itself.
Finally, route the rest of the cable down the stand arm where it snugly fits into a recessed channel and exits straight from the bottom center of the base. Now if I had to nitpick I would have really liked to see some kind of plastic chrome cover that snaps over this cable route groove (a la HiRise) just so that things look a little more aesthetically pleasing around the back. Alas, this is how the Forte will be left. Fortunately, the exposed cable route isn't visible from the front or side angles so we're not too disappointed with how Twelve South designed the Forte's cable management feature.
A quick look underneath, we find the Forte's large silicone rubber underlining that helps keep the base planted in place while also preventing any damage to your furniture. Because after all we are talking about a heavy piece of metal.
Unlike the similarly made $60 Mophie Watch Dock, the Forte offers one more way in which you can charge and use your Apple Watch. And that is Nightstand mode. The Mophie Watch Dock was only designed to dock an Apple Watch in a portrait orientation rather than also in a landscape orientation like the Forte. The same can also be said about the Nomad Stand, Spigen Watch Stand S330 and even Twelve South's own HiRise for Apple Watch. And although there are a bunch of other charging stands that support Nightstand charging like Spigen's inexpensive S350, they only do just that and don't support the Apple Watch's portrait orientation docking.
Until today, Just Mobile's TimeStand was our favorite charging stand for the Apple Watch. A title that has now been claimed by the newly released Forte from Twelve South. Like the TimeStand, the Forte is an elegantly designed accessory that better matches Apple's polished stainless steel Apple Watch models. But what makes the Forte a better charging stand is its ability to charge any Apple Watch model and strap combination in either portrait orientation or in Nightstand mode. It's almost entirely made out of metal except for the genuine leather covering the Forte's base, which adds a touch of luxury to the stand as well as form a barrier between the metal and any Apple Watch band that may rest on it.
Apparently, Twelve South chose chrome because it adapts to most environments better than any other color, and I’d have to agree with that design decision. The highly polished metal reflects and mirrors things around it just like the stainless steel Apple Watch and keeps a classy look. The leather wrapped base of the Forte is weighted being that it's a solid piece of metal, and it gives the stand a super sturdy and solid build quality that's very important when it comes to charging stands/docks. Next to Mophie's Watch Dock and Just Mobile's TimeStand, this is the most stable dock we've tested for the Apple Watch. So sturdy in fact that you can continue using the touchscreen and even scroll using the Digital Crown while the Apple Watch is sitting on the Forte.
As mentioned earlier, there are two different ways that you can place your Apple Watch to charge and be displayed on the Forte. The first position is better used when the band loop is closed together tightly. This is used when you want to dock your Apple Watch sideways where it'll automatically turn on Nightstand mode, making sure that the Digital Crown is facing up. Unlike other stands we tested such as the Elevation Lab NightStand dock, the Forte's design doesn't let the Apple Watch turn sideways so that you'll be able to enjoy a straight and centered view of the display.
To begin charging, you can slide your Apple Watch from the right side onto the Forte’s charging arm making sure that the band slips into the upper portion of the arm’s back curve if your band is closed. In this orientation, the Apple Watch charges in a portrait orientation and is tilted at a 40 degree angle, which is perfect for up close and far-way viewing. I did notice that when using the Forte in this way you are going to want to extend your band farther apart if it's in a loop so it can wrap around the charging disk and route into the curve of the stand.
Another way you can place your Apple Watch to charge on the Forte is when it’s in a landscape orientation. This of course takes full advantage of the Apple Watch’s Nightstand mode, which is automatically displayed when the Apple Watch is being charged on its side. The Forte makes perfect use out of this. For this to work you’ll simply need to put your band into a fully closed loop so that the Apple Watch can be balanced correctly on the charging arm. Unlike other stands we tested such as the Elevation Lab NightStand dock, the Forte's design doesn't let the Apple Watch turn sideways so that you'll be able to enjoy a straight and centered view of the display.
Slide it from underneath and onto the Forte’s round charging arm and your Apple Watch will magnetically hold its position horizontally. You can easily remove the watch from the Forte by sliding it down. Thanks to the heavy base, the Forte does not move an inch, allowing you to effortlessly undock your Apple Watch using one hand. You’d be surprised at at how stable the Forte is during use. Its heft is one of the reasons why I like using it so much. It just stays there when I dock and remove my Apple Watch. If you are going to use the Nightstand mode alarm feature, you are going to need to pinch the button to snooze an alarm. Otherwise the Apple Watch will simply fall off if you try to press the top button without supporting it using your thumb.
The Forte has a very interesting design choice in that it conveys a free-flowing docking of the Apple Watch using a forward-leaning charging arm that almost disappears when you place your Apple Watch to charge. This makes it look like your Apple Watch is floating in mid air when looking at it from the front. It’s a really neat effect that makes the Forte one of the more attractive charging stands on the market. The rounded square base also compliments the squarish form factor of the Apple Watch, while the black leather serves as a padded resting place for any dropping band.
This hovering-type effect in the way the Forte presents the Apple Watch puts a sharp focus on what actually matters most, and that’s your personal wearable and the informative OLED display that is perfectly angled for your viewing pleasure.
You could also use this spot to place your iPhone on to charge overnight. Of course this isn’t a true replacement for a dedicated charging stand like a HiRise, but knowing that you could technically rest your iPhone there for whatever reason is appreciated.
Rest assured that any protective case or third party band will also work with the Forte - such as this incredibly bulky Epik watch kit for the Apple Watch.
We like it so much that we think Twelve South’s Forte is one of the best designed Apple Watch charging docks you can get. The HiRise was a great first attempt by Twelve South, but the Forte is without a doubt a superior alternative. If you’ve got an iPhone and an Apple Watch, which you obviously do, then the Forte is one charging dock we can highly recommend and appreciate.
The Forte is downright sexy. Not only that but it's highly versatile and works better than we could have asked for. Twelve South put more effort this time in creating a truly original charging dock for the Apple Watch, and we think it's great. If you've got an Apple Watch you use on a daily basis, you must do yourself a big favor and get yourself a Twelve South Forte. This is the fanciest Apple Watch charging dock we've reviewed yet, and a must buy if quality and functionality are two things that are most important to you in a charging companion for your Apple Watch.
The Forte is one of the more stunningly designed accessories with its polished metal and leather construction, amazing build quality and wonderful elevated charging - which makes it seem like the Apple Watch is floating towards you. I find that really attractive. $60 doesn't seem that much of a crazy price to pay for Forte when you consider other premium alternatives such as Nomad's $70 Charging Stand for Apple Watch. It's also quite an upgrade over Twelve South's $50 HiRise.