Much of the Apple Watch experience centres around the watch face. It's where you can get quick snippets of information, from news and weather to your commute time. There are also plenty of little shortcuts to larger apps, where you can do even more.
If you play it right, you may never have to open up that app menu. Therein lies the problem, though – just how do you play it right? Unfortunately, making your own Apple Watch face is a little more difficult than you might expect. A lot of that has to do with the fact that it's buried in the menus.
So in this guide, we'll walk you through how to build a watch face, and which ones you may want to build your Apple Watch experience around.
How to build a watch face (on your watch)
Getting a new face on your Apple Watch is actually pretty simple. Just force touch on your screen until you bounce into a carousel of faces. You'll then want to swipe all the way to the 'New' pane on the far right.
Click on this and you'll be able to vertically scroll through all of the available watch faces. To select one, just tap on it. The Apple Watch will then turn that into your watch face – but if you want to customise it and make it yours you'll have to force touch again until a customise label appears below. Click on that and you'll be greeted with a pulsing border around your watch face.
At the top, there will be a couple of dots that denote how many pages of customisation there are to swipe through. Most of the time, one is for colour and the other is for complications.
You can use the Digital Crown to scroll through your options. On the complications customisation page, you'll be able to tap on which complication spot you want to change.
The third customisation page is usually for a special feature of that face. For instance, the Micky/Minnie face lets you choose between the two Disney mice, while the Numerals face lets you choose a font.
It's best to go through these methodically. Start with the first page, customise to your liking and then swipe to the right. Once you're done, just click in on the crown to complete your face.
While you're paired to your phone, the faces will automatically sync over to the companion watch app, under the 'My Faces' section of the app. Speaking of which…
How to build a watch face (on your phone)
You can also customise your watch faces on your Apple Watch. Sometimes, this can be much simpler than doing it on the Watch, largely because you have much more space to work with. Sometimes, however, it can be a little unwieldy.
To start, when you open the app you can click over to the 'My Watch' tab at the bottom. You'll see the 'My Faces' section up at the top. Here, you can scroll through the faces you already have. When you click 'Edit' you'll be taken to a new screen that vertically lists all of your faces.
Here, you'll be able to sort or delete the face, and your current watch face will also be highlighted. You cannot, however, customise your faces. You'll have to delete them and re-create them within the app. So if you're all done sorting or deleting, click 'Done'.
You can create a face by heading to the 'Face Gallery' tab on the bottom. Here, Apple will highlight some of its own favourite faces. At the top, there are 'New in watchOS', which is pretty much a way for Apple to show you what the new faces are all about.
Below that are a series of watch faces built around complications that Apple thinks are pretty good. Each face showcases a complication that you can then go and download.
Below that is where you'll be able to create your watch face. All of the options are sorted by type of face, from Activity down to XL. When you click on an option, you'll be presented with a whole range of choices.
You'll get a nice description that tells you some of the unique design ideas and features that go into the watch, and then you'll get to choose your colour and complications below that. For some faces, you'll also get additional features. For example, for the Photos and Kaleidoscope faces, you'll get to choose a face from your photo library. Other faces will have you choose a watch face style.
The colour options speak for themselves, but the complication section takes a little more work. The options are splintered into location. So you'll have to clock on 'Top Left' to choose the complication for that spot, or 'Middle' for the middle section, and so on and so forth. When you click on a spot, you'll get a vertical carousel of options you'll be able to scroll though. It'll only show you the complication options you have available from the apps you have installed.
Once you're all done, click on the 'Add' button to add the watch face to your Apple Watch. You can also head back to the 'My Faces' section to sort it precisely to your needs.
The faces to build around
The watch faces on Apple Watch are built around a couple of ideas. For instance, there are a couple of faces that are built around letting you know your progress on closing the Activity rings. There are faces that are of course built around telling you the time, and there are faces built around information and fun animated characters.
Each of these faces are built for a specific purpose, and to totally take advantage of everything the Apple Watch offers, it's good to create a couple of them that you can swipe through. That way you can quickly bend your Apple Watch to your needs, based on your activity.
For keeping fit
If you're all about keeping track of your activity, whether that be calories or exercise minutes or the number of times you've stood up during the day, the two Activity faces are for you. There's a digital and an analogue version, and both of them come with three complications: two tiny ones up at the top and a long one at the bottom.
For the visuals
The Apple Watch has a beautiful OLED display, and if you're looking to show that off there are a couple of faces that'll do that perfectly. There's the Solar and Astronomy faces, which will give you a look at where the Earth is relative to the Sun.
But there are also the Motion, Photo, Kaleidoscope and Timelapse faces. In Motion and Timelapse, you'll have to select between a couple of different pre-selected options. With Photo and Kaleidoscope though, you'll be able to choose from your own photos on your iPhone. You'll have to make your way to the Watch Gallery in the companion app, then select your photo library and choose a photo. All of these faces contain one to three complications.
For the timekeeper
If you'd like to mimic a more traditional experience, the Simple, Utility, Chronograph, Color and Explorer faces are for you. They all have recognisable faces with minute, hour and second hands. Each, of course, has a slightly different purpose. Color and Simple are your basics, while Chronograph is true to its name and Explorer is for those who want to keep a track on a cellular connection. There are three to five complications for these faces.
For the fun-lover
The two faces here are the Mickey/Minnie and Toy Story faces. The Mickey/Minnie faces are a recreation of the Mickey Mouse watch, but with a twist: You can tap on Minnie or Mickey to get them to tell you the time. The Toy Story faces are a little different, as tapping on them will basically give you a little "short" where Woody, Buzz and the gang will do silly things. These faces have three complications.
For the minimalist
If you're looking to keep your watch simple, the options here are XL and Numerals. Numerals will allow you to customise the text to simply display the time without all the bells and whistles – just the date, rotating hands, a numeral for the hour and a colour. The XL face is similar, completely enveloping your watch face with a digital readout of the time. There are no complications here.
For the info hound
The Modular and Siri watch faces are perhaps the best encapsulation of what a smartwatch is. The Modular face lets you stack five complications next to the time. There's a big, hearty complication in the centre, with three smaller complications at the bottom and another up and to the left. If you want a lot of glanceable information at once, this is the face you want.
The Siri watch face, on the other hand, will constantly serve you new information as the day progresses. If you've been playing music, it'll be right there; if there's breaking news and calendar notifications coming up, they'll be there too alongside the weather and breathe reminders. It'll also throw some old pictures your way every once in a while, in a customised album you can view right on your wrist.