On Apple Watch faces

I’ve been wearing my Apple Watch for a couple of weeks, and while I’m still churning on my review, I wanted to share my thoughts on the ten watch faces that come with the device. While having so many options is great, many of the faces have frustrating limitations in the ways they can be customized or used.

Editor’s Note: Don’t judge me for my Activity Rings. My Watch was on the dresser most of the day, as I didn’t want to smash it while moving rocks around in the yard.


The Utility watch face seems to be a favorite of many people on Twitter, and for good reason.

Pros: There are lots of options for levels of detail, lots of colors and three places for complications. I like how the smaller labels are the embedded in the ring of minute marks.

Cons: It’s not unique to this watch face, but the ALL CAPS event info is annoying, and the complication shows “NO MORE EVENTS” after the last calendar item has passed. 


On the face of it (sigh), Modular seems like a huge winner. Why take up space faking being a real timepiece when the watch is digital?

Pros: Big, easy-to-read text with lots of flexibility.

Cons: The time is locked to the upper-right corner; I’d love to have it be the biggest thing on the Watch face. Having three complications across the bottom is nice, but can feel a bit cramped.


Simple is the watch face I’m using most of the time. 

Pros: With four complication areas, (one more than “Utility”) the name is weird, but I like the way this face looks. There’s a lot of information, but in a nice package. 

The ring around the watch face can be hidden all together, but I find it hard to read the time without some tick marks.

Cons: The only thing I don’t like about this face is that it can’t put the day next to the date, like Utility and others.


While the imagery on the Motion watch faces is very impressive, this one just isn’t for me. I need more information than this watch face can give me.

Pros: It is beautiful.

Cons: It’s mostly useless.


As much as I love space, it pains me that I can’t use Astronomy as my go-to watch face. Tapping the icons to go between the Earth’s current place in the solar system, the moon’s current phase and your current location on the planet (complete with sunshine and darkness information) is stunning. I love that twisting the Digital Crown affects the imagery in time, despite it being a weird UI break from the rest of the watch faces.

When I demo the Watch to people, this is something I show off, but day-to-day, it doesn’t offer what I need in the way of complication support.


More than any other watch face, Color seems like a throw-away. Four complication areas are nice, but the level of detail around the watch face can’t be edited like Simple, and the color backgrounds behind the complications are pretty bad looking on almost every option.

Color does have the unique ability to show a monogram, set in the Apple Watch app, but it’s not enough to save it, in my opinion. If this watch face went away, I wouldn’t miss it.


Solar is very much a cousin to Astronomy, with its conceptual theme and easy-to-read digital face.

Pros: The colors used to highlight the position of the sun are beautiful. In fact, I grabbed all of the screenshots in the evening to highlight that.

Cons: Like Astronomy, the Digital Crown can be used to change time’s effect on the watch face, but I wish it could be turned off here. I would use Solar as my default if it offered better complication support. As it is, it only comes out on weekends.


While I know some people love Chronograph, I don’t care for it all that much. I am sure that never having owned an actual chronograph watch before Apple Watch can be blamed for that.

Like its real-world inspiration, this watch face has a stopwatch in the upper-right hand area at all times, but I don’t find myself in need of one all that often. Thus, the trade-offs of three complication areas and a design I don’t particularly care for aren’t worth it.


Mickey is just a barrel of fun. His foot taps as the seconds roll by, and the three complication areas make this face more customizable than I would have guessed, but our ALL CAPS friend appears again, which makes me sad.

I haven’t yet used Mickey, but my kids think he’s awesome, so that’s a win in my book.

Also, I totally want this watch face with WALL•E telling me the time.


The X-Large watch face does what it says on the tin: it makes the time as large and as easy to read as possible. 

There are no complications, but there are plenty of colors to choose from here. I’ve used this face while working outside in the yard, as the huge numbers are very easy to read, even in direct sunlight.

More importantly, this watch face is a great addition for those Apple’s vision impaired customers. I’m glad it’s here in version 1 of the Watch OS.