How to Use Customizations and Complications on Apple Watch

By Marc Saltzman

It’s important to understand that all the watch faces support various tweaks you can make to help your Apple Watch feel even more personal. Apple divides these personalized changes into two main categories: customizations and complications.

Customizations

Each watch face includes customizations you can perform, such as changing the watch to show additional information (such as specific minute, second, or millisecond detail) and changing the color of the watch hands (perhaps to match your outfit).

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You can make these changes for each face, but what you change varies by face style.

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Complications

When customizing your watch’s face, one of your options to is to add additional information to the screen — usually in up to four corners or at the bottom part of the screen. This may include upcoming calendar alerts, an alarm, the current moon phase, the weather, the day’s sunrise and sunset times, a timer or stopwatch, your current activity, the world clock, and stock quotes.

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When customizing the watch, simply touch highlighted parts of the watch face to make your selection.

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Be aware, however, that some watch faces offer more room for complications than others. When you tap on the piece of information provided, such as the weather, Apple Watch opens up the corresponding app for a deeper dive.

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The word complications, by the way, is a horological term that refers to any clock feature that goes beyond the display of hours and minutes.

You can still tell the time on Apple Watch if the battery is low. Your watch automatically goes into the Power Reserve mode when your battery drops below a certain percentage or you can activate this mode manually by opening the Settings app on Apple Watch. You should still be able to see the time for up to 48 hours, according to Apple.

You can choose one of ten complications to add to your Apple Watch face (if it’s supported):

  • Alarm: As the name suggests, you can set an alarm, such as that dreaded wakeup call, and see what time it’s set for.

  • Timer: Set one or more timers right on your Apple Watch and you should see the timer icon count down to zero from your set time (minutes/hours). No more burnt cookies.

  • Stopwatch: Ready, set, go! Right from the watch face, you can start and stop a digital stopwatch. As you likely know, numbers climb up from zero over time and can be reset to start again.

  • World Clock: Have relatives in another country? Work associates on a different continent? You can set a secondary clock on your watch face and you’ll see an abbreviated name for a location (such as par for Paris) and the correct time there.

  • Sunrise/Sunset: While it’s also the name of a famous song in Fiddler on the Roof, this complication lets you see when the sun is set to go down and rise the next day.

  • Moon Phase: Werewolves, beware! This complication shows you how much of the moon will be visible that night, such as crescent, half, or full.

  • Calendar: See when your next appointment is and what it’s about by syncing information from your iPhone’s Calendar app. Hopefully, it’s nothing embarrassing your colleagues might accidentally see, such as “2:00pm: Proctologist Appointment”!

  • Weather: Without even having to open an app, your Apple Watch can tell you the weather outside based on what city you’re in (or another city of your choosing). You can choose to see the information in Fahrenheit or Celsius. Ideal for Canadians, eh?

  • Stocks: Should you celebrate or bite your nails? The Stocks complication shows you real-time quotes based on the publicly traded companies that matter to you.

  • Activity: Get a quick idea of how active you’ve been throughout the day. The three rings show your actual level of physical activity and how much of your daily goal you’ve accomplished. Lazy types might be tempted to throw the watch out, but it won’t berate you.