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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Apple Watch Face Off: Modular

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.


There’s something to be said for getting straight to the point. The Modular face for the Apple Watch is all about substance over style. It’s about text over graphics. It’s the most flexible and, well, modular of the nine faces Apple supplies with the watch, but even with all of the options, I found that I couldn’t get it to work the way I wanted.

How it tells time: In the top right corner is an unchangeable block taking up two-thirds of the top row and featuring a digital representation of the current time. It’s nice, but it highlights the frustrating fact that the representation of the time is never customizable on an Apple Watch face.

One of Modular’s customizable regions is huge, taking up an entire third of the watch face. It would be the perfect place to put, say, the time. Unfortunately, Modular isn’t interested in the time being the most important part of your watch face—and I think that’s a bad decision.


Complication areas: Five. Three square blocks across the bottom, a square block at the top left next to the time, and a huge region in the middle third of the display. The square blocks can display day and date, graphical moon phase, sunrise/sunset times, weather, stocks, activity, alarm, timer, stopwatch, battery, and world clock.

The showpiece is that center segment. It’ll let you display the current day and date, the time and name of your next calendar event, detailed textual moon phase or sunrise/sunset data, current weather, stocks, activity, alarm, timer, stopwatch, and world clock. Whatever complication you put in that segment will be the dominant piece of information on the face. If you care that much about your next appointment, this is the face for you. But to me it feels like the center is where the time belongs, not a huge announcement that the moon is waxing gibbous tonight.

Other options: The modular face comes with numerous color choices, including those that match the colored sport bands. You can opt for a white-and-gray monochrome look, or pick a color that suits you or the watch. For me, since I’m sporting a green-banded Apple Watch Sport, green seemed like the right decision. But choice is good, and Modular has it.

Final verdict: If you really like complications and data on your watch face, Modular is the choice for you. When I first got my Apple Watch, I assumed this would be my face of choice. But I really dislike the emphasis of the central complication over the time.

I don’t want to be too harsh on Modular. Apple needs to add more faces like it, with digital time and room for some decent-sized complications. Right now Modular is the only face of its kind on the Apple Watch, and because of that I find it wanting. Still, if one of Apple’s offered complications is more important to you than the time—and if you prefer text to graphics—Modular will work for you.

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