watchOS 6 will give customers with older Apple Watches new reasons to upgrade

watchOS 6 includes six new watch faces with even more customization options for personalizing your Apple Watch — if you have a Series 4 model. The upcoming software update is also coming to Apple Watch Series 1 through 3, but you’ll need to upgrade your Apple Watch if you want to try out all the new watch faces.

Older Apple Watch models will be limited to two new watch faces: Numerals Mono and Numerals Duo. Both are cool watch faces with options for changing color, typeface, and style, but neither support showing any information beyond the time.

Apple Watch Series 4 picks up those same two time-focused faces, plus four more with support for displaying more information through complications: Modular Compact, Solar Dial, Gradient, and California.

  • Modular Compact is loaded with complications and an option for an analog clock or digital clock with seconds ticking around the dial.
  • Solar Dial shows up to four corner complications, features an analog or digital clock, and a view of the sun’s position with support for moving forward or backward with the Digital Crown to see the sun’s position at an earlier or later time.
  • Gradient has a full screen mode that features no complications but has options for changing the gradient style or color. There’s a circular alternative, though, that supports four corner complications and one dial text complication.
  • California similarly has a full screen design with two sub-dial complications, or a circular style with four corner complications and one dial text complication.

Unique to Series 4 and later

This won’t be the first time Apple Watch has limited new faces to certain models. The analog Explorer face introduced with the cellular Apple Watch Series 3 still remains limited to Series 3 and Series 4 models with LTE. Apple has special watch faces limited to Nike and Hermès watch models as well.

Apple Watch Series 4 also introduced new styles of watch faces in watchOS 5 with Infograph and Infograph Modular before expanding the lineup with watchOS 6.

If watch faces aren’t a priority for you, Apple Watch Series 4 offers a number of other improvements too: faster performance, new case sizes with larger screens and smaller bezels, louder speakers, haptic feedback from the Digital Crown, a built-in ECG app for capturing an electrocardiogram, and fall detection with the ability to notify emergency services and share your location with a contact if you’re unresponsive.

Older Apple Watch models only gain Numerals Mono and Duo

If watch face options are important to you, opting for the Apple Watch Series 4 is recommended when considering upgrading from an older model or buying your first Apple Watch. watchOS 6 is currently in developer beta testing and will be released this fall.

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Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.