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

Apple on Monday announced watchOS 9, the next major update to the Apple Watch operating system. 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 users have to customize watch faces. More than just choosing different styles, you can change colors 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 pretty much the same. Now with Apple Watch Series 7, it has become even clearer that these watch faces weren’t created with the latest Apple Watch models in mind. With watchOS 9, Apple not only added three new watch faces, but also updated some of the old ones.

First, let’s delve into the new watch faces that come with watchOS 9.


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

This watch face, which shows the moon in the middle with the time surrounded by the lunar phases, supports four complications. There are not many other customization options except for hand colors, analog or digital time, and Chinese, Hebrew, and Islamic calendars.

Users can rotate the Digital Crown to explore other phases of the moon, and the watch vibrates every time you do so.

play time

Playtime is a dynamic and interactive watch face created in collaboration with illustrator and artist Joi Fulton. It has a more fun vibe as it shows the numbers in the form of stuffed toys.

Playtime watch face in watchOS 9.

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


Metropolitan is more of a classic watch face, since it replicates an analog watch. Even so, it has multiple customization options.

Metropolitan watch face in watchOS 9.

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


Even though Astronomy is not 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 made to the Astronomy watch face go beyond that.

Astronomy watch face in watchOS 9.

Users can choose to view the Earth or the Moon at full size or zoomed in on a specific part. There’s 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 like 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 shows photos taken in Portrait Mode and merges them with the time, has also been updated to work with pet portraits.


Luckily, all the new watch faces will be available for Apple Watch Series 4 or later, so there aren’t any new watch faces that are exclusive to Apple Watch Series 7.

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

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