The problem with Apple Watch faces

Apple Watch face requests fall into three categories:

Additional Apple watch faces

Apple is allowing more watch face customization.

Watch faces not made by Apple

Since the release of watchOS 1.0 in 2015, Apple has launched over 50 new watch faces, and the majority of them have seen updates to their personalization features. Apple has never permitted the use of customized watch faces on the watch in any way.

There is no indication that Apple will ever permit third-party watch faces, even though it will continue to appease certain customers with new watch faces. Yet, there is a strategy adjustment for watch-face personalization that would greatly reduce the annoyance.

Putting aside custom watch faces made by third parties, I think the best solution to appease the majority of people is to greatly increase watch face personalization. With greater control over colors and complexity rather than with more of either.



Although the restrictions are not new, a recent software upgrade has brought them to light. The presentation of colors as well as how complications might appear on watch faces have been updated in watchOS 9. The update adds “rich complexities” to watch faces that date back to Apple Watch Series 3 or before (i.e., corner complications from Apple Watch Series 4 and beyond). The current watch face style was first launched with larger displays and softened edges, especially for analog faces. Not everyone likes this modification.


For my coworker Ben Lovejoy, the problem is straightforward. His chosen watch face now has many complications.

The watchOS 9 complications are everything but minimalist, despite their appearance being relatively simple. They don’t look fantastic in the simplest Simple face, however, I’m sure they do in certain watch faces. There are now three tiles with the current date in the middle, as opposed to just the day and the date. Why? What was formerly only a little weather symbol with a temperature is now larger and features a curving bar displaying the day’s temperature range.

The most crucial aspect of this argument is preference. Yet it does have a useful component.

Simple offers four variations that alter the level of clock detail. Style IV has a dial with extra intricacy and digits surrounding it for minute markings.

Since rich complications cannot support style IV numerals in watchOS 9, they briefly display in the watch face editor before vanishing. Style IV can only be presented in its original form when there are no problems. Prior to watchOS 9, the answer was to add the numbers 10, 20, 40, and 50 to style IV.

Apple has to spend more effort refining how older watch faces manage complex complications. It would be ideal to have a watch face editor without arbitrary restrictions set by Apple.



Although I support the choice to alter the complexity style on earlier watch faces, I find it frustrating which elements remained the same.

I always have Utility and Explorer in my rotation of faces. Each has one broad-rounded text complication and two top-corner complications. The broad straight text complication was replaced with the wide rounded text complication as of Apple Watch Series 4.

The two complications in the upper corners are improved by watchOS, in my opinion. The bottom complexity is what I find disappointing. I much prefer complexity in two of the lower corners. Simply put, I find the text’s smiling face design silly. Wide font complications integrated into the dial, similar to how the California face does, would be the ideal approach.

But only I have that preference. Some people are glad that this broad, rounded type style survived the transition to rich complexity. These are individual preferences that an Apple Watch face editor may display using components found on watch faces with a similar design.

There is technically no reason why Apple couldn’t give you the option to select from three different corner complication styles: detailed, broadly rounded, and small. Apple makes this design decision for you.



With each new watch face, there are more restrictions on complexity and color. Wayfinder on the Apple Watch Ultra is the most recent. There are thousands of single-color possibilities in addition to the three bespoke colors with three potential combinations. Nevertheless, I am unable to create the combination I wish to wear frequently since complexities and other watch face features cannot be fully colored.

The colors of Set 1 are as follows:

  • Orange/White Ultra
  • Blue/White Ultra
  • White/Ultra Yellow

The backdrop is white, the bezel is white, and the central dial is black. Color-matched issues, such as the LTE signal indication, are orange, blue, or yellow.

Set two has the following labels:

  • Extreme Orange
  • Extreme Blue
  • Bright Yellow

The bezel is white, the backdrop is black, and the main dial is black. LTE is among the complications that are fully colored.

The third set is almost my favorite:

  • Black and Ultra Orange
  • Black/Ultra Blue
  • Black with Ultra Yellow

Black backdrop, black bezel, and black center dial. All is well thus far. LTE is among the complications that are fully colored. Where it loses me is there. I like all-black outfits with Ultra Blue touches. Thus set three uses the complicated colors from set one. Not conceivable.

Set 4 contains a black dial, a white bezel, a black backdrop, and complexities that match the other color options. While the white bezel is virtually a solution for me, I don’t like it. I propose not using the new watch face that comes with the updated hardware.

An Apple Watch faces editor that allows you to choose your own options based on components that are already present on other watch faces would be really satisfying in all of these scenarios. That’s a modification that could take place right now without having to deal with the regulations and support systems for outside watch faces.

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