Which Apple Watch should I buy? The range of models, materials, colours and straps was baffling enough even before the new Apple Watch 2 was unveiled, which has made things even more complicated. Here, we help you choose between Apple Watch Series 1 and Apple Watch Series 2, and which models within those will be best for you.
The Apple Watch made a big splash when it launched in 2015, and was one of the hottest Christmas presents that year. It later saw a major software update with watchOS 2, followed by a second update in 2016 with watchOS 3. (watchOS 4 may be unveiled at WWDC 2017.) There have also been plenty of new straps, and some new colour options too. For those without an Apple Watch or those ready to buy a new one, the big new arrival came in September of 2016, which is when Apple released the new Apple Watch Series 2 range. It also updated the older model of Apple Watch with a new processor, now called Apple Watch Series 1.
We still don't know for sure whether the Apple Watch will be a long-term success by Apple's standards. The real test will be sales of the Apple Watch Series 2.
But which model of Apple Watch is right for you, your needs and your budget? Which edition, size, case material, colour and strap should you go for? Which is the best value-for-money choice? With dozens of combinations available, the choice can be overwhelming.
In our Apple Watch buying guide, we explain all the options and help you decide a) which Apple Watch you want, b) which Apple Watch will suit you, c) which Apple Watch you can afford, and d) where to buy your Apple Watch from. Read next: Apple Watch vs Apple Watch 2
Where can I buy an Apple Watch?
You can now pick up the Watch Series 1 and Watch Series 2 from an Apple Store (or order one online), where you can also buy the very expensive Apple Watch Edition. Prices range from £269 to figures well over £1,000. Note that Apple is no longer selling the Gold models of Apple Watch Edition, which were available for up to £13,000 when the original Apple Watch series was launched.
Apple now sells the Apple Watch Series 1, Apple Watch Series 2, Apple Watch Nike+, Apple Watch Hermes and Apple Watch Edition (the latter three are all part of Series 2, too).
With five different watches to choose from, or six if you include the original Apple Watch that is still on sale at some third-party retailers, it is really tricky to know where to start.
The Apple Watch Nike+, Apple Watch Hermès and the Apple Watch Edition all have the same internals and specifications as the Apple Watch Series 2, but have distinct aesthetic appearances. And you can choose between aluminium and stainless steels for the case of the Apple Watch Series 2.
The Apple Watch Nike+, which is made from aluminium, is aimed at those who love running and are looking for a sport-orientated smartwatch. We see the Nike+ as an Apple Watch Sport replacement.
And as of 27 April there will be another Nike Apple Watch model to choose from. The Apple Watch NikeLab will be the first model of the watch not to be available from Apple's website: you'll be able to buy it from nike.com, at NikeLab stores and the popup Apple Watch Store at Isetan Shinjuku. UK pricing hasn't been confirmed but MacRumors reports that the 38mm and 42mm models will cost $369 (about £290) and $399 (about £310) respectively.
The Apple Watch Hermes and the Apple Watch Edition are both aesthetically different to the standard Series 2 watch, too. The Hermes is made with Stainless steel, with a unique strap and a Hermes stamp on the back, while the Apple Watch Edition is made with white ceramic, giving it a unique design. Both of these watches start at more than £1,000. Read next: How to repair a broken Apple Watch
Apple Watch Series 1 vs Apple Watch Series 2
And then there's the Apple Watch Series 1, which is a rebadged version of the original Apple Watch that has a new upgraded processor.
The Apple Watch Series 2 features built-in GPS, IP67 water and dust resistance, and a 50 percent brighter screen. These are the main differences between the Series 1 and Series 2, in addition to some new strap options at checkout (but those will also be compatible with the Series 1 and original watch).
Both the Series 1 and Series 2 come with a dual-core processor, which is the only differentiator between the new Apple Watch Series 1 and the original Apple Watch. It's important to note, though, that the Series 1 comes with a S1P dual-core (not to be confused with the single-core S1), while the Series 2 houses an S2 dual-code processor. From what we know, the only difference between the S1P and S2 chips is the S2's ability to hand a GPS signal. Both S1P and S2 chips feature a better GPU, which renders faster images on your watch.
Looking at the materials used, the stainless steel version of the Series 2 has the sturdier sapphire glass screen, while the Series 1 is protected with Ion-X glass. It should be noted that the aluminium models of the Series 2 are also made out of the same Series 1 glass-material.
Price wise, the Series 1 starts at £269, while the Series 2 starts at £369. Prices increase when you start changing straps and materials. There is only the Sport Band available for Series 1 models, but if you want a different strap you can purchase it separately, but that will of course cost you a few more pennies. See our dedicated article on Apple Watch straps.
Should I upgrade from the original Apple Watch?
If you've already got an Apple Watch, it's worth considering whether it's really necessary to upgrade to Apple Watch Series 1 or Series 2.
Bear in mind too that recently it was reported that Apple has extended the usual 1 year warranty of first-gen Apple Watches to three years following reports of swelling and expanding batteries. If you think yours is affected, it might be worth checking your warranty before upgrading.
The answer is yes if you are super-excited about the idea of built-in GPS, water resistance and a brighter screen, all of which are most useful for sporty types. If those things sound appealing but nothing special, it's then worth considering whether the speedier dual-core processor is really worth the extra investment.
The dual-core S1P and S2 processors are up to 50 percent faster than the single-core processor found in the original Apple Watch. This will make a difference when considering the speed at which apps are launched. The chips also feature a better GPU, making images look better and render faster. So it all depends on how sluggish you feel your current Apple Watch is. We think it's worth popping into an Apple Store if you can to test the speed of the Series 1 and Series 2 to see if the difference is noticeable enough to you personally.
If you haven't already done so, we'd recommend updating your Apple Watch to watchOS 3 before you consider upgrading too, as it brings a healthy boost to the user interface and the speed of the watch and its apps.
Should you buy the 38mm or 42mm size?
The Apple Watch comes in two sizes of case: 38mm or 42mm. The general interpretation is that these are designed to suit an average woman and an average man's hand/wrist dimensions respectively, but you needn't feel bound by that: there are no other changes to the design of the watch other than size - no explicitly masculine/feminine decorative elements etc. (Also, a bloke can wear a woman's watch if he wants to. Don't let anyone tell you different!)
The 38mm/42mm measurements represent the (approximate) height of the watch face, in millimetres. That's a bit weird, because when categorising sizes of smart devices we usually refer to the size of the screen, measured diagonally from corner to corner, in inches. (The iPhone 5s is a '4-inch smartphone', for instance.) But Apple seems to have decided to do things differently this time. We'll see if this sticks and becomes the de facto standard.
The full and exact dimensions of the two sizes of Apple Watch (height x width x depth) are:
'38mm model': 38.6mm x 33.3mm x 10.5mm
'42mm model': 42.5mm x 36.4mm x 10.5mm
Weight obviously varies according to the material. It should also be noted that the Series 2 has a depth of 11.4mm and not 10.5mm.
The size of a wearable is a crucial, critical factor, and because of this, I would recommend that you postpone the buying decision until you can be sure which size is right for you. That might mean buying in store rather than ordering online; if you can get to an Apple Store or a reasonably well-appointed reseller then they will have watches in stock that you can try on before buying.
Finally, bear in mind that the available configurations of material/colour/strap are slightly different for the 38mm and 42mm sizes - so your choice in this category will slightly reduce your options in others. I strongly recommend that prioritise size above other considerations, however. Don't be like the shoe shopper who goes one size too big because they're 90 percent off - the pain isn't worth it!
Which colour do you want?
The material used determines what colour you can find the Apple Watch. In aluminium you'll find it in white, space grey, gold or rose gold. In stainless steel and black stainless steel. The ceramic version naturally represents its white material and is only available in that colour.
The colour per material, doesn't affect the price, so pick whichever version you like best. You will however notice a difference in price between the 38- and 42mm versions. Read next: How to make your Apple Watch battery last longer
Pick a strap
Your choice of strap does affect the price - fairly drastically, in the case of the Apple Watch, Apple Watch Edition and Apple Watch Hermes.
- Sport Band
- Woven Nylon
- Classic Buckle
- Modern Buckle
- Leather Loop
- Milanese Loop
- Link Bracelet
- Hermes Single Tour Strap
- Hermes Double Tour Strap
- Hermes Cuff Strap
Each of these is available in multiple colour options, which vary according to the model of Apple Watch you've selected.
(There are some nice third-party straps out there too. We've collected our favourite first- and third-party Apple Watch straps in a separate feature: Best Apple Watch straps.)
Let's look at the full set of prices, when watch version, size and strap are taken into account:
Apple Watch Series 1 prices
38mm Silver Aluminium Case with White Sport Band: £269
38mm Gold Aluminium Case with Concrete Sport Band: £269
38mm Rose Gold Aluminium Case with Pink Sand Sport Band: £269
38mm Space Grey Aluminium Case with Black Sport Band: £269
42mm Silver Aluminium Case with White Sport Band: £299
42mm Gold Aluminium Case with Cocoa Sport Band: £299
42mm Rose Gold Aluminium Case with Midnight Blue Sport Band: £299
42mm Space Grey Aluminium Case with Black Sport Band: £269
Apple Watch Series 2 prices
38mm Silver Aluminium Case with White Sport Band: £369
42mm Silver Aluminium Case with White Sport Band: £399
38mm Gold Aluminium Case with Concrete Sport Band: £369
42mm Gold Aluminium Case with Cocoa Sport Band: £399
38mm Rose Gold Aluminium Case with Pink Sand Sport Band: £369
42mm Rose Gold Aluminium Case with Midnight Blue Sport Band: £399
38mm Space Grey Aluminium Case with Black Sport Band: £369
42mm Space Grey Aluminium Case with Black Sport Band: £399
38mm Silver Aluminium Case with Pearl Woven Nylon: £369
42mm Silver Aluminium Case with Pearl Woven Nylon: £399
38mm Gold Aluminium Case with Yellow/Light Grey Woven Nylon: £369
42mm Gold Aluminium Case with Toasted Coffee/Caramel Woven Nylon: £399
38mm Rose Gold Aluminium Case with Light Pink/Midnight Blue Woven Nylon: £369
42mm Rose Gold Aluminium Case with Space Orange/Anthracite Woven Nylon: £399
38mm Space Grey Aluminium Case with Black Woven Nylon: £369
42mm Space Grey Aluminium Case with Black Woven Nylon: £399
38mm Stainless Steel Case with White Sport Band: £549
42mm Stainless Steel Case with White Sport Band: £599
38mm Stainless Steel Case with Saddle Brown Classic Buckle: £649
42mm Stainless Steel Case with Saddle Brown Classic Buckle: £699
38mm Stainless Steel Case with Milanese Loop: £649
42mm Stainless Steel Case with Milanese Loop: £699
38mm Space Black Stainless Steel Case with Space Black Milanese Loop: £699
42mm Space Black Stainless Steel Case with Space Black Milanese Loop: £749
42mm Stainless Steel Case with Midnight Blue Leather Loop: £699
38mm Stainless Steel Case with Midnight Blue Modern Buckle: £749
38mm Stainless Steel Case with Link Bracelet: £949
42mm Stainless Steel Case with Link Bracelet: £999
38mm Space Black Stainless Steel Case with Space Black Link Bracelet: £1,049
42mm Space Black Stainless Steel Case with Space Black Link Bracelet: £1,099
Apple Watch Nike+ prices (Series 2)
38mm Space Grey Aluminium Case with Black/Volt Nike Sport Band: £369
42mm Space Grey Aluminium Case with Black/Volt Nike Sport Band: £399
38mm Space Grey Aluminium Case with Black/Cool Grey Nike Sport Band: £369
42mm Space Grey Aluminium Case with Black/Cool Grey Nike Sport Band: £399
38mm Silver Aluminium Case with Flat Silver/Volt Nike Sport Band: £369
42mm Silver Aluminium Case with Flat Silver/Volt Nike Sport Band: £399
38mm Silver Aluminium Case with Flat Silver/White Nike Sport Band: £369
42mm Silver Aluminium Case with Flat Silver/White Nike Sport Band: £399
Apple Watch Hermès prices
38mm Stainless Steel Case with Rose Jaipur Epsom Leather Single Tour: £1,149
42mm Stainless Steel Case with Feu Epsom Leather Single Tour: £1,199
38mm Stainless Steel Case with Étoupe Swift Leather Double Tour: £1,299
38mm Stainless Steel Case with Fauve Barenia Leather Double Tour: £1,299
42mm Stainless Steel Case with Fauve Barenia Leather Single Tour Deployment Buckle: £1,399
38mm Stainless Steel Case with Étoupe Swift Leather Double Buckle Cuff: £1,549
38mm Stainless Steel Case with Fauve Barenia Leather Single Tour: £1,149
42mm Stainless Steel Case with Fauve Barenia Leather Single Tour: £1,199
Apple Watch Edition prices (Series 2)
38mm White Ceramic Case with Cloud Sport Band: £1,249
42mm White Ceramic Case with Cloud Sport Band: £1,299
Docks, stands and chargers
The Apple Watch comes with a small, basic charger, but you may wish to buy an additional dock that allows you to charge overnight while also displaying the time. For our picks, see our roundup of the best Apple Watch stands and charging docks.
Which watch face should I get?
That's up to you, but it's a settings option, not a buying one. You don't need to specify a watch face when you buy. You can change the face whenever you like, so experiment and see which one you like best.
There are thirteen watch faces (which are further customisable, in terms of colours and so on):
- Mickey Mouse
To find out more, visit our How to change the watch face on Apple Watch tutorial.