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The 18 best Apple Watch faces you should be using

The Apple Watch is more than just a tech gadget, it’s also a fashion accessory. Thankfully, Apple gets that, and it’s made sure you have a wealth of options to customize and accessorize your wearable. This includes not just a huge assortment of the best Apple Watch bands and straps but also a variety of different watch faces to fit your individual style and even match up with your choice of band.

Whether you’re wearing the mainstream Apple Watch Series 8, the extreme Apple Watch Ultra, or the affordable second-generation Apple Watch SE 2, you won’t have a hard time making your Apple Watch your own. Apple has made sure that every band that’s been made for an Apple Watch still fits the latest models, and with very few exceptions, all of Apple’s watch faces are available across the entire lineup as well.

A collection of Apple Watch bands.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Apple also adds new entries to its core collection of faces each year, and the release of watchOS 9 was no exception. The company even sometimes releases new watch faces to complement certain special-edition watch bands for occasions such as Pride Month, Black History Month, and the Summer Olympics.

Now that the Apple Watch Series 3 has been put out to pasture, nearly all of the faces in watchOS 9 are available on every supported model of the wearable. The only exceptions are Contour and Modular Duo, which are limited to the Apple Watch Series 7 and Series 8, plus the Apple Watch Ultra due to their larger screens. The Apple Watch Ultra also offers an extra Wayfinder face geared toward the outdoor adventure enthusiasts who are its target customers.

The total of 57 Watch faces available in watchOS 9 can be an embarrassment of options, making it overwhelming to try and pick your favorite. So how do you find, customize, and make one your own? Here’s our guide to everything related to the best Apple Watch faces. After you’ve selected the right watch faces for your lifestyle, don’t forget to add some of the best Apple Watch apps to your smartwatch for another layer of functionality.

The best Apple Watch faces

Three Apple Watches showing Lunar, Metropolitan, and Playtime Watch Faces.
Lunar face (from left), Metropolitan face, and Playtime face Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Lunar offers a valuable addition for moon-watchers and folks who like to use alternate calendars. For whatever reason, Apple took away the ability to show a Chinese, Hebrew, or Islamic calendar date on the standard watch faces in watchOS 9, so the Lunar face is the solution to getting that back. You can choose between an analog or digital clock, and place up to four complications in the corners.

Metropolitan is a stylish new watch face that provides room for four corner complications and a set of numbers that you can adjust in style by rotating the Digital Crown. This one also takes advantage of the always-on display on newer Apple Watch models to rotate the numbers into pills when your wrist is down and animate them back into numbers when you raise it again.

Playtime is a fun new dynamic watch face that shows the time as a series of artistic cartoon-like characters. A new one walks on when the time changes, and they’ll react when you tap on them. You can also rotate the Digital Crown to animate the stars and streamers in the background. Sadly, this one doesn’t offer room for any complications.

Three Apple Watches showing Astronomy watch faces
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Astronomy displays a real-time 3D representation of the Earth, moon, or solar system. It’s a great complement to the iOS 16 lock screen of the same name, and what’s cool is that it brings back Time Travel, a feature of Apple Watches past that was retired with watchOS 5. When the Astronomy face is active, you can rotate the Digital Crown on your Apple Watch to move the display ahead or back in time to see the phases of the moon and the positions of the planets in the solar system, or cycle through day and night views of Earth. Two text complications are available at the top and bottom of the face, which default to showing the date and the current weather conditions.

Wayfinder is an exclusive face for the Apple Watch Ultra designed to cater to the needs of outdoor adventure enthusiasts such as hikers and divers. The high-contrast display makes it easy to see in bright daylight, and it’s the only watch face that provides a specific Night Mode, turning all the elements on the face red to preserve your vision on nighttime excursions. You get room for up to eight complications — four in the corners and four in the middle cluster — and you can tap on the bezel ring to immediately turn it into a compass and show your current latitude and longitude in the inner ring.

Three Apple Watches showing California watch faces.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

California is a great option for folks who like the more traditional look, and it’s especially great for the always-on display models, where the watch face is always shown in one form or another. You can configure it with a mix of Roman and Arabic numerals in different styles or simply go with pills for a more classic design. There’s room for two complications: a text one that defaults to the current date and a single, small circular one in the bottom-center position. However, we think this one looks best when it’s kept simple.

Two Apple Watches showing Chronograph Pro watch face.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Chronograph Pro offers a precision timer like a classic analog stopwatch, with modes for recording time on scales of 60, 30, 6, or 3 seconds, or a tachymeter to measure speed based on time traveled over a fixed distance. Tapping the center of the face switches into timing mode, and you can also surround the face with four corner complications of your choice.

Two Apple Watches showing Contour watch face.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Contour is an artistic face designed explicitly to show off the curved bezels introduced with the Apple Watch Series 7. Numerals appear in a custom font tucked into the edge of the display and morph in size to reflect the current hour. Like the California face, Contour offers two complications, but you’ll probably want to use these sparingly.

Two Apple Watches showing Gradient watch face.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Gradient is a great choice for folks who prefer a colorful minimalist design. In its standard form, it’s simply a pair of hands against a gradient background. There are quite a few gradients and styles to choose from, but if you want to add complications, you’ll need to opt for a more traditional circular look to make room for them in the corners. However, this is another one that we think is at its very best in its uncomplicated full-screen glory.

Three Apple Watches showing Infograph watch faces.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Infograph was first introduced in 2018 to show off the larger screen on the Apple Watch Series 4 — and how much more detail can fit onto it. The traditional analog clock is joined by up to eight complications — four in each corner and four as subdials in the center cluster. The top-center complication also offers an extra twist here, with the ability to show a band of semicircular text around the edge that can highlight your next appointment, current weather conditions, upcoming tasks, and more.

Three Apple Watches showing Memoji watch faces.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Memoji is one of the few Apple Watch faces that you can truly make your own, since it lets you put your own custom avatar right on your watch. You can choose from any of Apple’s standard array of Animoji characters, use a Memoji you’ve created on your iPhone, or create a new one using the watchOS Memoji app. You can even have your Apple Watch display a new character each time you raise your wrist. This face also offers room for two basic complications.

Three Apple Watches showing Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse watch faces.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are two of Apple’s most whimsical faces from the original Apple Watch, turning your modern smartwatch into a classic toy-style timepiece. Mickey or Minnie’s arms rotate to indicate the time while their feet tap out the seconds. This was also the first watch face where you could make your watch speak the time, and while that function has since been expanded to work on any watch face, this is still the only one that offers a different voice; hold two fingers down on this watch face and instead of Siri’s voice, you’ll hear Mickey or Minnie read out the current time,

Three Apple Watches showing Modular watch faces.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Modular is the original watch face for folks who prefer to see as much information at a glance as possible. It’s essentially the digital clock version of Infograph, and it’s almost entirely made up of complications. There’s room for six here, so it’s not quite as flexible as some of the other faces, but those six complications can be added in three different sizes, including a large center complication that shows more information than you’ll get on any other watch face. This can provide a list of tasks or upcoming appointments, the full name of whatever song is currently playing, detailed workout info, or a complete weather forecast. The other complications are made up of four dials and a spot for the current date above the time. Variations on this one include Modular Compact, which provides room for three complications with an analog clock in the corner, and Modular Duo for Apple Watch Series 7 and later devices, which gives you room for a second large complication in place of the three bottom dials.

Three Apple Watches showing Nike watch faces.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Nike Faces are part of a collection of faces that were once the exclusive domain of Apple’s Nike Edition models. However, now that Apple has stopped manufacturing these Nike-branded models, it’s unlocked its Nike watch face collection for every Apple Watch owner to enjoy. This includes the Nike Analog, Nike Bounce, Nike Compact, and Nike Digital, but it’s the Nike Hybrid face that offers the best of all worlds, letting you choose between analog and digital clocks with a Windrunner-inspired design. It’s the most customizable of the bunch and offers room for up to five complications.

Three Apple Watches showing Photo and Portrait watch faces.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Photos and Portraits offer two different ways to show off your favorite pictures right on your wrist. The Photos face has been around since the beginning, although Apple has enhanced it over the years to let you add color filters and display content from Memories. Photos can change every time you raise your wrist to show an album, memory, or any custom selection of up to 24 photos. In watchOS 8, Apple expanded this with a new Portraits face that displays a bokeh effect with the digital time layered in front of or even partially behind your photo’s subject. As of watchOS 9, this works with dogs and cats in addition to people and landscapes. You can also turn the Digital Crown to zoom in on your subject.

Three Apple Watches showing Pride Analog, Pride Woven Circular, and Pride Threads faces.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Pride is a series of faces designed to celebrate and commemorate Pride Month each year. While Apple created Pride bands for its employees in 2016 and began selling a version to the public the following year, it wasn’t until 2018 that Apple began the trend of adding unique watch faces to complement each year’s new Pride band designs. While the standalone 2018 and 2019 Pride watch faces have been lost to time (they were built into watchOS 4.3 and watchOS 5.2.1 in an era before Apple offered downloadable watch faces), Apple has incorporated their designs into the Pride Analog and Pride Digital faces that arrived for Pride Month 2020. All of the styles are inspired by the rainbow flag, with Pride Analog offering a choice between the wave-style 2019 design or the solid 2020 version, and Pride Digital adding the original six-line 2018 Pride face to the mix. In 2021, Apple expanded the colors to represent a wider breadth of diversity with its Pride Edition Braided Solo Loop and new Price Watch Face that added black, brown, light blue, pink, and white to symbolize Black and Latinx communities, those who have passed away from or are living with HIV/AIDS, and transgender and nonbinary individuals. This was followed up with a new design in 2022, Pride Threads, a more abstract that shows the digital time behind a series of threads that shimmer when you tap the face or turn the Digital Crown.

Three Apple Watches showing Siri watch face.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Siri leverages Apple’s digital assistant to show you the information you need at relevant times. This is presented in the form of cards from Apple’s first-party apps and any third-party ones that support the Siri watch face. It can include things like news headlines and weather for the day, upcoming appointments, suggested HomeKit scenes, a song that’s currently playing, or a traffic report for your evening commute. You can turn the Digital Crown to scroll through the cards, and there’s room for a complication dial in the top-left corner.

Three Apple Watches showing Unity Mosaic, Unity Lights, and Unity faces.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

Unity Faces mark an interesting milestone in Apple Watch history. The first Unity face (shown above on the right) debuted alongside the only limited-edition Apple Watch model the company has yet produced: the Black Unity Apple Watch Series 6, released in early 2021 to commemorate Black History Month. Like the Pride faces that came before, the Unity face was designed to complement the Black Unity Sport Band that went on sale around the same time. Apple followed up on the original Unity Face with Unity Lights for Black History Month 2022 and then Unity Mosaic in early 2023. The Unity watch faces are inspired by the colors of the Pan-African flag and feature customizable color accents. Unity offers room for two complications, while Unity Lights can accommodate four corner complications when set to a circular style. Unity Mosaic focuses on a more abstract design where complications don’t really fit in.

How do I add faces to my Apple Watch?

Three iPhones showing Apple Watch Face Gallery.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

You can add faces to your Apple Watch either directly from your wrist or via the Watch app on your iPhone. While adding directly on the Apple Watch is the quickest option, the iPhone app can be better for customizing your watch face and adding complications.

In the iPhone Watch app, selecting Face Gallery from the main options at the bottom also offers a great view of all the available watch faces, so it’s the best way to see everything that’s available. You can select any face you like from here, customize it, and then tap Add to send it to your watch.

Three iPhones showing steps to add Apple Watch Faces.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

To add, edit, or customize faces directly on your Apple Watch, press and hold your current watch face. This will take you to a left-to-right list of all your saved watch faces. You can edit an existing face by swiping to it and choosing Edit, or create a new face by swiping left or turning the Digital Crown upward until you see New. Select the big Plus button and then swipe or use the Digital Crown to scroll through the gallery of watch faces to find the one you would like to add.

Three Apple Watches showing steps to add a new watch face.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

When adding a new watch face or editing an existing one, you can swipe to the left and right to access different customizations such as color, style, and complications, and then swipe up and down or use the Digital Crown to choose your preferences.

To delete a watch face, press down on any face, scroll to the left or right until you find the face you want to delete, swipe up on the face, and select Remove to delete it.

How do I share an Apple Watch face?

Three Apple Watches showing steps to share a watch face.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

You can also share your customized Apple Watch faces with friends and family. To do this, press and hold to access the face controls and tap the Share button.

From here, you can select one of your frequent contacts or scroll down and choose Messages or Mail to send your watch face to someone else. You’ll have the opportunity to edit or add your own custom message, or you can just quickly send it out with the default message.

What are Apple Watch complications?

No, selecting an Apple Watch face really isn’t that complicated. In this case, “complications” is a term long used by watchmakers to refer to those extra dials and functions that show things other than the time. On traditional mechanical watches, complications were most commonly used to show the date, although higher-end luxury watches would sometimes throw in a chronograph, extra time zone indicator, phases of the moon, or even a Tourbillon — a device used to try and eliminate timekeeping errors that could occur in mechanical watches.

Of course, the Apple Watch has no need for such gizmos, but Apple still uses the term “complications” as a sort of homage to refer to all of those extra bits that you can display on your watch face in addition to the time — and that’s quite a few when it comes to the Apple Watch.

Although third-party apps can’t install their own custom watch faces, they can add their own complications, and most of Apple’s built-in watch faces include slots for these complications in various forms and sizes. How the complications appear and how many you’ll be able to add depends on the watch face you’re using, so if you like to use a lot of different complications, you’ll need to pick a watch face with a generous number of slots for them.

Apple Watch Series 7 vs. Series 6 complications.
Apple Watch Series 6 (from left) versus Apple Watch Series 7 Ajay Kumar/Digital Trends

Also, while developers can’t create an entirely new watch face, they can let you install a customized version of any of Apple’s faces that include app-specific complications for special purposes, such as keeping an eye on the weather or displaying extra metrics from a third-party workout app.

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