How to Buy an Apple Watch as a Gift

Make sure you get the right model, size, and band.

Edition Apple Watches on display

Pablo Cuadra / Getty Images 

The Apple Watch can make an excellent gift, but purchasing one requires you to choose a model, a size, and a watch band—which can be a challenge if you don't know a thing or two about the recipient. If you’re thinking of getting an Apple Watch for a friend or loved one, here's what you'll need to consider.

Pick a Model

Unless you go with a refurbished or second-hand purchase, you have two options to choose from: the Apple Watched Series 3 and Apple Watch Series 5. Apple sells a few other tiers like the "Edition" and "Hermès" Watches, but they're still either Series 3 or Series 5.

Price is usually the biggest factor in choosing between the two models. The Series 5 ($399) costs twice as much as the Series 3 ($199). Unlike the Series 3, the Series 5 has a retina display that is always on, an electrical heart sensor or ECG, a larger hard drive, a slightly more powerful dual-core processor, a compass, and a fall detection feature. The digital crown—the dial on the of the watch that's used to control it—also has haptic feedback whereas the Series 3 does not.

Both models, however, have a suite of features for active users, including an altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, water resistant casing, emergency SOS, and the option of GPS or cellular connectivity for an additional $100. With both models, you have access to the Apple Watch app library, ApplePay, and GymKit as well.

Pick a Size

The Apple Watch has two sizes for each Series, with the pricier Series 5 being a couple millimeters (mm) larger. With the Series 5 you can select either a 40 mm or 44 mm case. The Series 3 comes in either 42 mm or 38 mm. While watch bands offer better control over how the Apple Watch fits on the wrist, the size of the watch head is still important for getting the right fit. Some people prefer slim designs while others like their watches to be big and showy.

Pick a Watch Band

There are hundreds of bands to choose from, and not all are made by Apple. While Apple's bands are, on average, pricier, the option to choose from third-party sellers means your recipient won't have to stick with the band you choose for them. So don't overthink it. Active users may prefer a colorful sport band. Minimalist owners might like the look and feel of buckled leather band. Flashy recipients may prefer a metal link bracelet. Watch band styles and materials can range from $50 to $600.

Keep Your Receipt

An Apple Watch is a personal (and pricey) gift. If you buy a watch or accessories as a gift, be sure to hang on to the receipt so that your recipient has the option to exchange it for a different model, size, or band.