watchOS 9 hands-on: the new and updated Apple Watch faces

Apple announced watchOS 9, the next major update to the Apple Watch operating system, on Monday. It comes with features like better sleep monitoring and a new medication reminder app and also brings new and updated watch faces. Read on as we detail what’s new for Apple Watch faces in watchOS 9.

Apple Watch stands out for the many options that users have to customize watch faces. Not only can you choose different styles, you can change color and add different complications to see them when you raise your wrist.

Over time, Apple has added new watch faces to watchOS, but the old ones have remained much the same. Now with Apple Watch Series 7, it has become even more apparent that these watch faces were not made with the latest Apple Watch models in mind. With watchOS 9, Apple has not only added three new watch faces, but also updated some of the old ones.

First, let’s take a look at the new watch faces that come with watchOS 9.


Lunar is one of the new watch faces included with watchOS 9, and Apple describes it as a watch face that “displays the relationship between the Gregorian calendar and the lunar calendar.” Basically, it is inspired by ancient timekeeping methods based on the moon phases.

Showing the moon in the center with the time surrounded by the moon phases, this dial supports four complications. There aren’t many other customization options besides hand colors, analog or digital time, and Chinese, Hebrew, and Islamic calendars.

Lunar watch face in watchOS 9.

Users can turn the Digital Crown to explore other moon phases, and the watch will vibrate every time you do so.


Playtime is a dynamic and interactive watch face created in collaboration with illustrator and artist Joi Fulton. It has a nicer atmosphere because it shows the numbers in the form of stuffed animals.

Playtime watch face in watchOS 9.

There are no complications in this watch face, but users can change the background color and add or remove some decorative elements in the background. Time shifts on the screen in a parallax effect as you move your wrist, and you can interact with the numbers by tapping them.


Metropolitan is more of a classic watch face, as it mimics an analog watch. Still, it has multiple customization options.

Metropolitan watch face in watchOS 9.

Like other modern watch faces, Metropolitan also supports complications up to four corners. Here the user can change the color of the background and also the time in the center of the watch face. Turning the Digital Crown more or less stretches the numbers, allowing users to create even more unique looks.


While Astronomy isn’t a new watch face, it has been completely remastered with watchOS 9. In addition to super-detailed 3D versions of the Earth and Moon, the changes to the Astronomy’s watch face go beyond that.

Astronomy watch face in watchOS 9.

Users can choose to view the Earth or Moon in full size or zoom in on a specific part. There is also a version that shows the entire solar system, and you can interact with it using the Digital Crown.

When it comes to customization, the Astronomy watch face offers options to change the font and complications at the top and bottom of the screen.

Updated watch faces

Other watch faces have also been updated with watchOS 9, but with less aggressive changes. In watch faces like Modular, Modular Compact, and X-Large, users can now change the background by adding a solid color or gradient.

Infograph modular watch face in watchOS 9.

Some of the original watch faces, such as Simple and Utility, have also received minor updates, now with support for more modern complications.

Classic watch faces in watchOS 9.

The Portrait watch face, which displays photos taken in portrait mode and merges them with time, has also been updated to work with pet portraits.


Fortunately, all new watch faces are available for Apple Watch Series 4 or newer, so there are no new watch faces exclusive to Apple Watch Series 7.

watchOS 9 is currently available as developer beta through the Apple Developer website. A public beta will be released next month, while the official release is expected this fall.

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