I have long complained via Apple’s Watch faces. This was an ugly mix of skeuomorphic (aka realistic) design fused with someone’s idea of what a fancy dial might look like. With WatchOS 7 you finally get the hang of it.
The new GMT face is the most interesting. It features a Rolex-inspired split-ring configuration that points to the current hour on a 24-hour route. The fact that the time zones are switched automatically is great. Because of its absolute simplicity, you get more of what a GMT watch offers: easy-to-read time zone transitions on the road.
The countdown display (also called countup) is similar in its legibility and elegance. For those of us who mostly use the Apple Watch timing features to measure bake times or get an extra five minutes of sleep, this face makes perfect sense. Also, it looks a lot like a standard timing bezel so you can drag it to set the elapsed time you want. A great addition.
Unfortunately, the chronograph face didn’t get the memo for readability. It has a certain Omega Speedmaster style, but it definitely doesn’t win awards for simplicity.
After all, the clever typographic display looks like something out of a Swatch range from the 1980s – and that’s a good thing. It’s perfectly legible and very unique. Even better, I think, is the wonderfully clever artist face that is really the only thing that shows everything the Apple Watch really is: a powerful computer with a great screen that can create random faces in seconds.
Apple hasn’t made good watch faces in a long time. You have tried performing tricks that mimic traditional watchmaking in ways that don’t quite work. With these new faces – faces that only an Apple Watch (or similar wristop computer) can produce – the watch finally makes sense.