You wear your Apple Watch every day to work, play, and exercise, so why does it still shine with the original factory display? Customizing your Apple Watch face elevates the display of your precious accessory and allows for a more personal look. Whereas the options were once fairly limited. Apple now provides a myriad of customizable faces, and third-party faces are also widely available for different mobile operating systems.

Some crowd favorites within the Apple Watch app include Typography and Stripes — simple, aesthetically pleasing designs — and Count Up, a utilitarian pick for people who want to maximize the accessory’s timer features. As with most Apple products, the options that are available to you will depend on the generation of your device. The latest release is the Apple Watch Series 7. Below we’ll guide you through the best Apple Watch faces for your lifestyle.

— Best Overall: California Apple Watch Face
— Best for Fitness: Activity Digital Apple Watch Face
— Most Calming: Breathe Apple Watch Face
— Best for Nurses: Infograph Apple Watch Face
— Best Animated: Portraits Apple Watch Face
— Best for Space Lovers: Facer NASA Earth Orbit Apple Watch Face
— Best for Pet Parents: StepDog Apple Watch Face

How We Picked the Best Apple Watch Faces

We’re longtime Apple Watch users and have owned multiple generations over the years. These devices have held onto their popularity in part because of the ability to choose from so many different watch faces that inherently change your relationship to the product and what it does.

We took into consideration all of the watch faces available within the native Watch app, plus 10 of the more popular third-party app options, which are brimming with thousands of faces at different price points and subscription models. We evaluated the features, cost, and design of faces to arrive at picks that would work best for people depending on their styles, habits, and occupations. A key spec for our picks were complications: a feature within the Watch app that allows you to customize elements of the watch face depending on location; for instance, a complication on the Activity watch face can allow you to display a compass in the top left corner of your watch face.  We also tested out the watch faces to see if, for instance, the Activity watch face was as great a workout companion as it’s billed to be. We arrived at our picks because they fit the expectations of the widest group of people and offer the best functionality.

The Best Apple Watch Faces: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: California Apple Watch Face

Range of Numbers Available. Apple

Why It Made The Cut: The California Apple Watch Face is the best bet for people who want to take advantage of the product’s technology plus find their own flair and style with customizable details.

Specs:
Complications: Up to seven
Colors: Dozens with gradient
Dial: Rectangle or circle

Pros:
— Customizable symbols
— Easy-to-use complications with features that make sense
— Offers appeal of a traditional watch

Cons:
— Display can be busy

The California Apple Watch Face gives your fave accessory an analog appeal and allows you to hone in on all of the details. It’s been a hit since it was released on watchOS 6 and is available on Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 4 and after.

With colors ranging from a simple ceramic to a soothing abyss blue, pretty much anyone using this watch face can find a combination they like. Some of the colors even include a gradient so you can adjust the depth of the hue. Its customizable numbers include Roman, Arabic-Indic, Devanagari and Arabic. It’s a well-rounded face that offers a chic rectangle or square dial with the option to delicately display anything from UV index, temperature, and activity in its corners.

Best for Fitness: Activity Digital Apple Watch Face

Maximize and Motivate. Apple

Why It Made The Cut: The Activity Apple Watch Face has been around practically since the dawn of the watch because it gives fitness buffs and casual walkers alike a constant motivation plus the tools they need to maximize any workout.

Specs:
Complications: Up to three
Colors: 24+ with gradients
Display: Rings or subdials

Pros:
— Easily view heart rate or start a workout
— Excellent for people who want to listen to music while working out
— Perfect for listening to music during a run

Cons:
— Fitness tracking is less refined and detailed than some competitors

Exercise couldn’t be easier or more sophisticated with the Activity Digital Apple Watch Face. This face allows you to choose your own speed and adventure. Whether you’re taking a long run, enjoying a slow yoga class, or looking to hit daily movement, standing and exercise goals, you can track it all and access apps like timer, workout, and heart rate while you’re in motion.

While the rings style displays bold numbers and text, the subdials are perfect for people who want to isolate their movement goals and hone in on their progress in each individual area. This watch face can be the first step toward a healthier lifestyle with its sheer motivational quality and also serve as a more rigorous option for race training.

Most Calming: Breathe Apple Watch Face

Clear Simplicity. Apple

Why It Made The Cut: While the Apple Watch can get a bad rap as the device of the most productivity-obsessed among us, one of its most neutralizing and relaxing assets — the Breathe app — comes alive as a watch face.

Specs:
Complications: Up to three
Display: Four options
Dials: No additional

Pros:
— Bright, attractive animations
— Draws focus to mindfulness
— Allows app access

Cons:
— No additional colors available

One of the best aspects of an Apple Watch is its ability to help people build new habits, and the Breathe Watch Face — which is available for all versions of the watch — does exactly that. By tapping on the glass screen, you’ll be transported directly to the Breathe app for a timed meditative session that can help you decompress after a long day, prepare for a high-pressure meeting or be more present during a hangout with a loved one.

It offers four soothing animations to choose from so you can gain some variety while still limiting the overall distractions that can come from a busy watch interface. There’s also some irony to this pick — the complications allow you to access apps in multiple areas of the watch face, so you could theoretically tap to access Stocks or News apps (we don’t find either of those options terribly relaxing). But for those who want a clean, minimal look that promotes relaxation and rejuvenation, this face is for you.

Best for Nurses: Infograph Apple Watch Face

Custom Integration. Apple

Why It Made The Cut: This Apple Watch Face is a prime pick for people who are multitasking on the job because they can customize based on every task and integrate areas of their work and personal life into one optimized face.

Specs:
Complications: Up to eight
Colors: Multiple colors available
Dial: Circular dial only

Pros:
— Highly customizable
— Allows display of multiple timers ranging from 1 minute to 2 hours
— Traditional sports-watch face

Cons:
— Overwhelming for people who aren’t as proficient with apps and technology

If you’ve been in a health care setting lately, you’ve probably noticed the Apple Watch is a hot ticket for nurses, for good reason. The Infograph Apple Watch face enables nurses to easily track time — whether via the timer, stopwatch, alarm or clock —- so health care specialists can juggle many tasks while constantly on their feet.

It’s a complication maximalist’s dream because you can take aspects of traditional equipment, software and checklists, and combine them all in one incredibly handy place. This face is available for the Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 4 and later. For those who want a slightly more streamlined option, the Infograph Modular face is another strong option.

Best Animated: Portraits Apple Watch Face

Bright and Bold. Apple

Why It Made The Cut: This Apple Watch face is specific to the product and allows you to tap into your library to display some of your favorite moments on your wrist.

Specs:
Complications: Up to two
Colors: Not applicable
Display: Classic, modern or rounded

Pros:
— Great for visual lovers
— Bold numerals to display time
— Simple and clean functionality

Cons:
— Limited on additional tech features

The Portraits Apple Watch face is a new option for people with Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 4 and later that brings a vibrant and sentimental touch to your favorite accessory. This watch face will display up to two dozen of your photos as long as they were taken using Portrait mode with iOS 10.1 or later.

The three styles available include a bold font that stands out in front of the backdrop of your favorite people and moments. It’s a really special face for people who want to use their watch to think of personal moments and not so much to take advantage of every app that can sync to the wearable.

Best for Space Lovers: Facer NASA Earth Orbit Apple Watch Face

Outta This World. Facer

Why It Made The Cut: For space junkies who want to keep tabs on other planets and galaxies, this Watch face is a constant reminder of your connection to the broader universe.

Specs:
Complications: Up to six
Colors: Multiple colors available
Display: Not applicable

Pros:
— Big, bold NASA logo for fans
— Can display multiple astronomy features at once
— Complications are compatible with a range of apps

Cons:
— Display of time is inflexible

While it can certainly be tough to keep tabs on earth, this NASA Apple Watch face is a fun portal into the solar system for your everyday enjoyment and fascination. It’s easy to add straight from the Fiver app to your Watch collection, and the positioning of the complications allow you to simultaneously display up to four different astronomy features at once: Earth, Moon, Solar and Solar System. If you choose to add the astronomy feature to the face’s bigger, middle complication — which is preprogrammed to display the NASA logo — you can opt in for a weekly calendar display of the moon’s phases plus corresponding graphics.

The color displays on this watch face are relatively limited; depending on which complications you choose, the color alterations will apply only to limited aspects of the display. It’s a great option to play around with and even temporarily explore, via your timepiece, the greater happenings on other planets — alongside, for instance, your own activity.

Best for Pet Parents: StepDog Apple Watch Face

Customizable and Fun. Apple

Why It Made The Cut: For the dog lovers among us, this inventive app and watch face are the perfect motivation to get active and gamify your movement with a cute virtual pup of your choice.

Specs:
Complications: Up to six
Colors: Multiple colors available
Display: Not applicable

Pros:
— Creative app to set and meet your fitness goals
— Free option available
— Inexpensive subscription at $.99/month with free trial available

Cons:
— Display of time is inflexible

Want a virtual Border Collie, Doberman or Shih Tzu to accompany you on your daily walks? Look no further than the StepDog Apple Watch Face — and despite the name, there are a few cat options available with this third-party app too. With the basic version of this watch face, you can track general data suhc as activity, step goal progress and temperature. As you hit your step goal, your sweet virtual pet will take a snooze as a testament to your hardwork.

To access this face’s premium features, you can start a one-week free trial; after that runs out, it’ll cost you $0.99/month. The premium features allow you to access toys, food, water and a dog house for your virtual pet. You can also measure your progress against other local users to earn medals for your pup. For fans of Tamagotchi or Neopets, this app and accompanying watch face are a fun way to keep active and reap the benefits of caring for your body — and your furry pal.

Things to Consider When Choosing An Apple Watch Face

Your Primary Use(s)

Are you a big runner who mostly uses their device to monitor daily steps and act as a fitness tracker? Are you a nurse who spends long shifts on your feet, monitoring patients’ needs and paying careful attention to elapsed time? Or are you simply a person who wants to tell the time and also take advantage of a few other features? Take your general use and style into consideration to find a face with the right design for you.

Your Device’s Generation

The Apple Watch Series 7 and Apple Watch SE are some of the newest models on the market since the wearable was released in 2015. While lots of faces are flexible enough to work on older models, some designs such as the Contour Apple Watch face are only available for Series 7 because it hugs the device’s larger display. When you’re scrolling through your Apple Watch app, you might find some options are missing. We’ll highlight if certain faces have generational limitations in this guide.

Cost

The Apple Watch app has a ton of free faces that can easily incorporate software updates and fit the needs of most casual users. But at a price, there are also apps on the market that are home to, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of faces to choose from. Most apps have an option to pay for a weekly or monthly subscription -- as well as a free trial to try before you buy.

How to Change Your Watch Face

If you own an Apple Watch, the most direct way to change your Watch face is to use the app, navigate to the Face Gallery and select the face you’d like to choose. On the face’s page, you can choose ways to customize it and then select “ADD” under the face title. On the My Watch page, click the face you’d like to use and then click “Set as current Watch Face.” If you’d like to change your watch face on the device itself, Apple has handy instructions.

As for third-party apps like Facer, the processes to change your Apple Watch face can vary; generally, as you select a face you’d like to use, you will be directed through a series of steps to transfer the face to your device.

FAQs

Q: Can you download more watch faces for Apple Watch?

You can download more watch faces for Apple Watch using a third-party app or the Watch app that’s installed on your iPhone. While many people may stick with the factory design, downloading additional watch faces gives you the opportunity to customize your device to fit your personal needs.

Q: What Apple Watch face is most popular?

The most popular Apple Watch faces include California, Infographic, and Siri. While California has an analog aesthetic and many complications, Infographic is more visually driven and almost mirrors a traditional Rolex in its level of detail, except it’s a smartwatch. Siri continues what Siri does best on the Apple Watch face by providing relevant updates as your personal digital assistant. All of these Apple Watch faces are available in the Watch app’s Face Gallery for free.

Q: How do you get new Apple Watch faces?

You get new Apple Watch faces by adding a new face from the Watch app or a third-party app and then editing your faces in the Watch app. You can swap multiple faces in as you please, and you can make tweaks to those face options as well hone in on your own use habits.

Q: How do you customize Apple Watch faces?

You customize Apple Watch faces by clicking on the face you want to display in your Watch app and modifying it depending on the specificities of the face you’re using. Faces can offer modifications such as complications — or tweaks you can make to areas of your display such as the bottom-right or top-left — as well as colors, styles, and dial shapes. Some Apple Watch faces like the Artists, Portraits, and Photos rely on images. You can often choose what those images are by physically tapping the watch or selecting photos from your gallery to be displayed.

Q: Can you buy Apple Watch faces?

You can buy Apple Watch faces. While a selection of faces are available in the native Watch app, others apps such as Watch Faces by Facer, StepDog, and WatchSmith offer a mix of free faces plus add-ons and subscriptions at various costs. Many apps that include fees allow you to do a free trial, so you can decide whether it’s worth spending money to access a wider library of watch faces.

Q: How can I download Apple Watch faces?

You can download Apple Watch faces by adding them to your collection via a third-party app. The native Watch app provides a more streamlined collection of faces that you can easily test out and customize.

Final Thoughts

An Apple Watch is a pretty big investment for people, especially given the range of smartwatches and fitness trackers available on the market. The watch face is the most prominent part of a device, and selecting or swapping in one that fits your needs and lifestyle is essential to your experience with the device. The California Watch Face is one of our top picks because it combines analog appeal with smart tech and organization to get the most bang for your buck and have a face that just plain looks good. With Apple releasing new options frequently and third-party apps enabling everyday innovators to design their own faces, the California Watch Face, or the Portraits watch face if you’re sentimental, continues to stand out and make the cut.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.


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