What Makes a Good Watch Face?

Pebble Time with Michael

DIN Time AutobahnSince the Pebble Time is above all else a watch, the watch face that appears on it is rather important. It’s what you are going to normally see whenever glancing at your watch, unless you happen to have started an app on it. Since it’s likely that you’ll be seeing more of the watch face than anything else on your Pebble Time it’s pretty important that you are able to find a one that appeals to you.

But what makes a good watch face? Actually, this is a pretty subjective question since it revolves around what’s most important about a watch to you. Is “coolness” or “trendiness” most important, or simple utility? Is pure functionality provided most important, or personal visual appeal? It all comes down to priorities, doesn’t it?

Well, I’m going to list some criteria that I think important in selecting a watch face, and I’m even going to tell you my priorities. These priorities may not match your own, so you can adjust the importance of each criteria to meet your own needs. Nevertheless, I hope to provide you with a usable framework for picking the best watch face(s) for your own Pebble Time.

Only One Watch Face?

Of course, one really great thing about the Pebble Time is that you don’t have to have only one watch face on it. Changing watch faces can be quickly accomplished either on the Pebble Time itself, or by using the Pebble Time phone app. I actually have 5 watch faces on my Pebble Time right now, including TicToc which is the default watch face that comes with every Pebble Time. I will list them later in this article, but the important point to understand is that it’s really very easy to switch your current watch face on a Pebble Time to meet your whims or the environment in which you currently find yourself, i.,e., work vs. a night club!

My Selection Criteria

Below are the criteria I use in selecting a watch face, in priority order – most my most important to least important:

Visibility

As I’ve mentioned before in other articles, the Pebble Time has a display that is unique among currently available smartwatches. It uses an E-Paper technology which provides a color display that actually looks best in very bright light. The downside of this technology is that it becomes less viewable as ambient light decreases. Now it does have a backlight that can be activated with a quick flick of the wrist, but I’m always looking for watch faces that are visible in a wide variety of lighting conditions even without using the backlight. This implies that the watch face will feature high contrast between displayed data and background colors, as well as display data items in a sufficiently large manner to always be easily seen. If I can’t read my watch in somewhat dim light, it’s not going to be usable to me.

Readability

Basic watch face readability is extremely important to me. Now I like stylish watch faces as much as the next person, but if the watch face is so stylish that I can’t easily see what time it is, I’m not going to be able to use it. Text needs to be sufficiently large and clear for me to be able to read the data displayed with just a quick glance. Otherwise, I’m not going to be interested in having the watch face on my Pebble Time – no matter how pretty or cool it might otherwise appear to be.

Data Displayed

I’ve got a minimum set of data elements that I want a watch face to present to me. These are: the current time, the date, the week day, the current weather, and the current state of my Pebble Time’s battery. I prefer that the percentage of battery charge be displayed as digits rather than as a graphic. This provides for greater precision in my understanding the exact state of its charge. Anything less than these data elements and I’m not going to be interested in having the watch face on my Pebble Time.

Visual Appeal

As pragmatic and practical as I am, my watch face has got to look good to me. I want to feel pleased when I glance at it, and I want to be able to show it off to others with some assurance that they will be impressed by how nice it looks. I don’t want to lose any showdowns between my Pebble Time and Apple and Android Wear watches!

Customization

The ability to customize the exact look of a watch face is important to me as well. This can be used to improve its visual appeal. Simple customizations like date formatting are vital, but more subtle features like detailed color schemes can also go a long way in making the watch face fit my exact needs and preferences.

Coolness Factor

Coolness factor is actually not all that important to me, but your priorities may vary considerably from mine. Coolness is nice, but I’ve found that the very coolest watch faces tend to be the least readable and typically don’t provide my minimal set of displayed data. There are some very cool watch faces in the Pebble App Store, though, so if that’s important to you, go for it!

The Pebble App Store

Watch faces can be found on and installed from the Pebble App Store. The Pebble App Store can be accessed by using the Pebble Time application on your phone. You can also access it on the Web for searching, but not downloading watch faces, through http://pas.cpfx.ca/. The Store is set up to display either watch faces or apps to the user. You can access the Pebble App Store watch faces from the Pebble Time phone app by selecting the Get Watchfaces menu item.

One issue I have with the Pebble App Store is actually finding watch faces on it. There are many thousands of them available and it can be quite a challenge to find what you are looking for. The store has a few broad categories of watch faces, including Color Picks and Pebble Time Watchfaces, which should be of special interest to Pebble Time owners, but there are simply not enough categories to really aid in finding apps.

The Store does have a search function, which works for both watch faces and apps, and can be used to search by name or keyword. I’ve eventually been able to find every watch face I’ve been looking for in the Store.

Installing Watch Faces on the Pebble Time

Pebble Time watch faces are installed  by first downloading them to your phone. They are then automatically sent to your smartwatch over the Bluetooth connection that’s maintained between your phone and watch.

Before attempting to download a watch face from the Pebble App Store you should confirm that your Pebble Time is actually connected to your phone. You can do this by looking at the top left corner of the Pebble Time phone app on your iPhone or Android device. If it says “Disconnected” you should be able to tap on this message to request the watch be reconnected.

Once you’ve confirmed your connection between your Pebble Time and phone and have found a watch face you wish to install, you just need to tap the Add button of the watch face’s information page. This will start downloading the watch face to your phone and then installing it from the phone to your Pebble Time. Once installed, your Pebble Time will usually vibrate and you’ll see the watch face is now being displayed  on your watch.

Pebble vs. Pebble Time Watch Faces

One thing to keep in mind about the watch faces available in the Pebble App Store is that the vast majority of them were written for the original Pebble and Pebble Steel watches, and so don’t take advantage of the color screen of the Pebble Time. Nevertheless, any watch face written for the original Pebble should work just fine on the Pebble Time. I’ve had many of them operating on my own Pebble Time without any problems.

My Favorite Watch Faces

Earlier in this article I mentioned that I currently have 5 watch faces on my Pebble Time. They are as follows:

  • TicToc – this is the default watch face that comes with every Pebble Time. If you can delete it, I haven’t been able to find out how to do it. I never use it as my watch face, primarily because it only displays the time and nothing else. It is nice looking, though.
  • DIN Time – this is the watch face I use 95%+ of the time on my Pebble Time. It’s pictured at the very beginning of this article. What I love most about this watch face is the amount of information that is very clearly displayed by it, along with the extraordinary amount of customization that is provided with it. You can change just every thing about this watch face and get the overall color scheme perfectly aligned with your own particular preferences. This is by far my absolute favorite watch face!
  • Slides of Time – some times I’ll use this watch face as a change from DIN Time, mainly because it provides almost as much information at that watch face and I find it easy to read and quite visually appealing.
  • Tally – when I want my Pebble Time to actually look like a real watch, I’ll use this watch face. It’s very easy to read and displays most of my desired data elements. It also looks quite classy to me.
  • Simple Weather – this is a watch face I occasionally use because it displays all of the data elements I want to see in a manner that is quite visually appealing to me. One tiny feature that I absolutely love about this watch face is the fact that it lets you know the exact time the current weather condition was updated.

So that’s it for my take on choosing a watch face for your Pebble Time. Of course, you can find lots more information on watch faces here on pebblestuff in the Watchfaces category. Happy hunting! Feel free to let you know about any of your own particular favorites in the comments section below.

4 thoughts on “What Makes a Good Watch Face?

  1. What is it with always wanting to have the weather on your wrist? I guess I’ll never really understand. Have you heard of lignite (www.lignite.io) yet? If not I’d suggest you have a look.

  2. Yes, I’ve seen the Lignite watch faces. I think some are quite attractive. As for weather info – different strokes for different folks!

    As I mentioned in the article, here I discuss my own priorities and urge you to adjust them for your own. If you don’t care about weather info, what you you care about? Just the time? Time and date? Next appointment? Adjust your priorities accordingly.

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