dotunderscore by Brian Hough

Apple Watch Faces

I’m almost exactly a month into my time with the Apple Watch, and overwhelmingly my feelings towards the device haven’t changed. At the time of my writing my previous Apple Watch piece, 47 Hours with the Watch, I figured I would around now follow up with a second, comprehensive piece outlining how my feelings towards the Watch had changed. Interestingly, nearly everything I wrote back then still stands – I haven’t had some sort of revolution that completely changed the way I look at the device, so if you’re interested in knowing my feelings towards the Watch as a whole, just go back and read that piece.

Overall, I find the Watch a comprehensive, worthwhile device that pushes back and acts on you as much as you act on it. If I were to single out a singular point that most desperately needs some t.l.c., I would be compelled to say that has to be the Apple Watch’s watch face options.

The Watch supports nine different watch faces – Chronograph, Color, Modular, Utility, Mickey, Simple, Motion, Solar, and Astronomy. After using the Watch for as long as I have, I can comfortably say that only four of these are worth using on a regular basis.

One of the most compelling aspects of the Watch comes in the form of complications, tiny widgets that sit on your watch face and provide quick insights of important information. By using a watch face that supports a good variety of complications, you’re able to quickly learn the time, current weather conditions, your next meeting, your fitness progress, and more – all from an extraordinary brief glance at your watch. More than anything, I have come to use my Watch as the place where all my important data come together and live. Complications are the backbone of that experience.

Given how important complications are to my overall Apple Watch experience, it’s fascinating – and maddening – that three of the watch faces (Astronomy, Solar, and Motion) simply don’t support complications at all, while a fourth (Mickey) is far too specific to certain Disney mouse to really make much sense as a daily driver. I did have some fun using Mickey at a gathering with some friends, though.

I just spent a couple of days with what I find to be the most beautiful of the Apple Watch faces, Solar, and found myself just constantly frustrated with its lack of basic functionality. Solar gives you glancable access to the time and the sun’s location relative to the Earth – that’s it. During my time with Solar, I consistently out of habit tried to glance at my Watch for the current temperature or my fitness progress only to be frustrated when none of that was there.

Sure, I could have spent an additional three seconds swiping up to my Glances and got the same information with Solar, but in that same amount of time I could have easily gotten as much or more of the same information from my phone. When talking the utility of the Watch, every second counts. That’s kind of my problem with Glances on the whole; they’re too far away from the home screen to warrant the relatively small amount of information they provide the user. More times than not, if I’m trying to get at something more than a complication, I’ll just click the Digital Crown and launch the full blown app.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve spent most of my time looking at just two watch faces – first Modular, a digital display with lots of complication support, and Utility, an analogue display with decent complication support. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with either of

these faces – Utility’s digital time display is perfect when I don’t feel like thinking, while Utility gives a sense of tradition while still giving me easy access to all the complications I’ve grown accustomed to.

If you’re just picking up your Apple Watch or will be soon I suggest taking a couple of days to really put every watch face through their paces and see which one suites you best. But I also highly recommend you really try to make as much use of complications as you can. You never know when you might need to know where your next meeting is, as fast as possible.