A Tour of Apple Watch Faces


Apple Watch faces

As soon as you buy your Apple Watch and strap it to your wrist, the very first thing you’re probably going to do is start playing with all the different watch faces available. For the launch of watchOS 1, Apple designed ten cool watch faces that help you make the Apple Watch truly your own. While some are definitely not as great as others (I’m looking at you, X-Large), all have their own particular use cases. Here’s our ranking of watchOS 1 Apple Watch faces!

10. X-LARGE

There’s no denying that the X-Large watch face is the most dull watch face that Apple designed. It’s a simple digital watch design that stacks the hours and minutes, and there isn’t much customization to it. You can change the color of the numbers, but that’s as far as it goes. If you’re thinking about adding a timer to this watch face, think again; this face isn’t designed for complications.

Apple Watch faces

I’ve never used this face before, but I can imagine that there are people who would get some use out of it. If you’re somebody who wants a no-nonsense, simple display, the X-Large face is for you. With just a glance, you can quickly see the time and get back to work. With that said, if you choose to wear this face, you should dial in your Notifications and Glances accordingly; since you’re not using complications to see the weather, date and/or etc., it would be great to have those things available with a quick swipe up or down.

9. MODULAR

For better or worse, the Modular watch face is exactly what people think of when they hear the word “smartwatch.” It’s a nerd’s dream come true; you can track the phases of the moon and know the temperature at the same time. If that kind of thing appeals to you, the Modular face may be just what you’re looking for.

Apple Watch faces

Okay, seriously, this face could be exactly what you want. If you’re one of those people who wants to add a lot of complications to your watch face, this is one of the best options that Apple offers right now. You can add up to five complications, in addition to your digital clock. You can also change the color accordingly. This is another one of the watch faces that I’ve never used, though. It’s just a little too complicated (pun totally intended) and busy for my wrist.

8. MOTION

Before I got the Apple Watch, I was really crazy about the jellyfish, but after living with the watch for a few months, it’s really old news. It’s fun to use the Motion face when I’m showing the watch to people, but it’s just not very practical for everyday wear. When you look at your watch, the jellyfish starts to appear, but before it totally appears, the watch’s screen has turned off again. Plus, I don’t like to sit and stare at my watch very often.

Apple Watch faces

But if you’re a marine biologist, or just someone who really digs jellyfish, this could be the perfect watch face for you. If you’re interested in the Motion face but not necessarily the jellyfish, you can swap it out for the butterfly or flower. You can also add one complication to this watch face: the date. In practice, though, I think the date adds a little too much to this watch faces and makes it just a little too busy. Overall, the Motion face is really beautiful and well designed, even if it’s not one of my favorites.

7. SIMPLE

Spoiler Alert: the Simple watch face is the lowest ranking analog watch face on this list. Honestly, it looks fine, and it’s highly customizable, but it just lacks something. You can adjust the detail on the timescale, change the color of the secondhand and up to five complications. Some people may really like this watch face because it’s… well… simple.

Apple Watch faces

If you really love a simple watch face, you can also cut out the complications on this watch for a super minimalist watch face. The black background matches the bezel around the face, so it all blends together well. I’m actually quite fond of this watch face.

Writing much more about the Simple watch face would seem a little counterintuitive, so I’m going to stop there.

6. ASTRONOMY

This watch face looks really cool (and it is really cool), but I really don’t have any use for it. At first it reminded me of the old Earth wallpaper on the first iPhones, and since I’m interested in space, I thought I would use it all the time. But this watch face just leaves something to be desired for me.

Apple Watch faces

You have absolutely no choice at customizing this watch face. What you see is what you get. You can tap the moon or the solar system icon on the bottom of the watch face and the Earth on your background will be replaced with the moon or the solar system, but who really needs that? Why do I need to know the position of the planets? You’ll also notice that on the Earth, you can see clouds, but those clouds are just for looks. There’s nothing about them that represents the cloud above your head.

With all of that said, I really want to like this watch face. Somebody convince me!

5. SOLAR

Now, this is a rather strange watch face that I can get behind! It shows the sun’s position in the sky, and it’s actually accurate. At high noon, you can look down at your watch and see the sun at the height of its arc. Pretty cool.

Apple Watch faces

I never need to know the sun’s position in the sky, just like I don’t need to know if the planet’s are aligned, but there’s something really color about this one. Maybe it’s the crisp design or the fact that if you use the Digital Crown to zoom into the watch face from the apps menu, the watch actually turns into the sun, but whatever it is, I like this watch face.

Like the Astronomy watch face, however, Apple does not let you customize it at all. Say goodbye to your complications.

4. MICKEY

The Mickey watch face is one of my absolute favorites, and even though I don’t always use it, I find myself frequently going back to it. It’s such a fun watch face because not because Mickey’s dancing around on it (though that’s really cool, too); it’s fun because it feels like a major update on a throwback. This watch face brings me back to the first time I saw a Mickey watch as a kid, and it reminds of the Mickey watch I have in my traditional watch collection.

Apple Watch faces

The Mickey face is relatively customizable. You can add up to three complications to the watch, and even when using all three complications, the watch face doesn’t feel too crowded.

When you take a look at the watch face, it’s almost like you caught Mickey off guard. His arms adjust to the proper time and his hips swing. This watch face ia nice touch by Apple, and it’s definitely one of my favorites.

3. COLOR

The Color watch face is one of the most versatile and customizable of all. It can be as simple as you want, or you can add up to four complications, located on each of the four corners of the watch face. Though I usually use white and black, the watch face lives up to its name. You can choose from an assortment of colors, but I prefer the simplicity of white on black.

Apple Watch faces

Though this is another relatively simple analogy watch face, it is not the same as the Simple watch face. On this watch face, you can add a little something extra: your initials. At the center of the dial, you can see my small “JM.” It’s just a small touch that helps make this watch face feel more personal. You can add up to four letters in the monogram, and you can change the monogram in your iPhone’s Apple Watch app.

This is probably the watch face that I’ve spent the most time using. I love the extra bit of personalization that the monogram gives it, but over time, I started to get tired of the watch’s complications. You almost have to use four; otherwise, the watch face looks a little off balance. Additionally, the watch face only looks balanced  when the complications that you choose are all circular; if you use a complication that is a different shape, it can throw off the uniformity. If you choose not to use any of the four complications, on the other hand, there is a lot of negative space that I find annoying.

2. UTILITY

Like the Simple watch face, the Utility’s name says it all. It’s another chronograph watch face, but the dials features actual numbers. It’s a very clean and simple watch face that I use very often.

Apple Watch faces

As far as its features go, this watch face is designed much like the Mickey watch face. You have the option to add up to four complications, and with the exception of the date complication, they are arranged in the same fashion as on the Mickey watch face. There is a horizontal complication at the bottom of the watch face that is great to use for the weather or as a stock ticker, and there are two small icons on the two upper corners.

Utility’s definitely a winner, but it doesn’t compete with the next watch face on our list.

1. CHRONOGRAPH

The Chronograph watch face is by far the most functional one of the bunch. It’s absolutely dial is absolutely beautiful, no matter what color you choose, and it is extremely versatile. It takes the best characteristics of the Simple, Color and Utility watch faces and melds them together into a single awesome one.

Apple Watch faces

Like Utility, the Chronography watch face is analog and uses actual numbers to help you denote the time. You can, however, choose a different timescale. It gives you the option to choose up to four complications, but the complication on the upper right corner is reserved for a stopwatch. I found this annoying at first, but since I’ve lived with it for a while, I’ve found the stopwatch to be extremely useful, especially for workouts.

This watch face looks clean and sophisticated, and it fits for virtually any occasion. As I mentioned earlier, I’m really fond of the Mickey watch face, but sometimes you don’t want to be known for wearing Mickey around at work. Chronograph is a great watch face for the home and office. Put simply, the Chronography watch face fits well into my everyday life.

Apple Watch faces

Until watchOS 2 arrives this fall, these are the watch faces that you have to choose from, and it’s not a bad first batch, and these ten watch faces should make you feel confident in Apple’s ability to design great watch face interfaces for its brand new piece of wearable tech.

What do you think of the Apple Watch faces? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

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Justin McGee

Writer. Editor. Teacher. Thinker. Follow Justin on Twitter @jstnmm.

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