The Top Ways to Customize Your Smartwatch

The Best Options, Along with Top Software and Hardware Tweaks

woman checking the time
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When you spend a few hundred dollars on a device that sits prominently on your wrist, it's reasonable to want it to reflect your style. If you're currently on the hunt for a smartwatch that suits your needs or is looking for ways to jazz up your wearable once it's out of the box, keep reading. I'll run through some of the best smartwatch options in terms of customization, and I'll take a look at some of the top ways — from software watch faces to interchangeable watch bands — to add your own personal touch to your tech.

Top Customizable Watches

When it comes to interchangeable watch bands or straps and different materials, not all smartwatches are created equal. The following products are particularly good options for those who want something more special than a cookie-cutter design.

Note that these are only a handful of the many good customizable smartwatch options. Other products, such as those from Pebble and Samsung, come with a variety of color and band choices, so be sure to consider your price range, style, and other factors before making a purchase.

  • The Apple Watch — Apple's wearable offers a variety of customization options, starting at the casing. Choose from silver stainless steel, Space Black stainless steel, Gold aluminum, Rose Gold aluminum, silver aluminum and Space Gray Aluminum casings. After you decide on a casing option, you have your pick of band size and design. With the addition of new woven nylon straps and alternate colors for the leather, rubberized Sport, and stainless-steel Milanese Loop bands, there are more choices than ever. The Apple Watch starts at $299 for the entry-level Sport version, and some customization options may bump that price up.
  • Motorola Moto 360 — The Moto 360 Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) smartwatch from Motorola has long been a standout for its round display, and the device is also pretty much synonymous with customization. As with the company's Moto X smartphone, the Moto 360 can ship to you with a wide variety of color combinations. Pick from a variety of watch casing sizes, then select from three different bezel options (and add a textured finish if you so desire). Other customizable features include the case, band, and watch face. The Moto 360 starts at $299.
  • Huawei Watch — Like the Moto 360, the Huawei Watch sports a circular watch face, which means it looks more like a traditional timepiece than a piece of technology. Based on which of the many designs you choose, this wearable can look understated (with the stainless steel model paired with a leather strap, starting at $350) or sophisticated (with the glitzy Huawei Watch Jewel model with rose gold plated stainless steel, starting at $599).
  • Honorable Mention: Blocks Smartwatch — Though it's currently only up for pre-order, the Blocks smartwatch is worth mentioning due to its highly modular design. Choose a color, then add on modules like an NFC chip for mobile payments, extra battery, and a heart rate monitor. It's an innovative approach to this wearable category, and while the customization is more about functionality than looks, it could be worth looking into depending on your preferences. For orders placed through the Blocks site, the smartwatch appears to start at $330, with an extra $35 charge for adding another module.

    Hardware Customization

    Assuming you've already settled on a smartwatch and are still looking for ways to add some personality to the device, hardware customizations are likely the first place you'll look. Your main option is swapping out your watch band, which may be easy or a bit of a challenge depending on the particular wearable product you own. 

    • The Apple Watch — For example, if you purchased the Apple Watch Sport with the rubberized Sport band, you may be looking for a strap design that's a bit fancier. You could choose the woven stainless-steel Milanese Loop band (now available in both silver and Space Black), the calf-leather Classic Buckle strap or the quilted Leather Loop strap. All of these options start $149 when purchased individually.
    • Pebble — With Pebble watch bands, meanwhile, the process is a bit less standardized, though still fairly simple. You can buy straps for the various Pebble smartwatch models starting at $29 apiece, but any 22mm watch band will do. Spend a bit of time browsing Amazon and other sites and you're sure to find something that catches your eye. Just note that you'll need to use a small screwdriver to make the switch.
    • Wear OS Devices — With most Wear OS-running smartwatches as well as with the previously mentioned Pebble watches, any 22mm watch band should work. If you're unsure whether a particular watch strap is compatible with your wearable, make sure to ask the retailer for more information.
    • General Advice — Switching out the watch band or watch strap is about as much as you can do when it comes to customizing a smartwatch from a hardware standpoint unless you want to start from scratch and buy a new product with a different-color casing, which is probably not a good idea. To avoid regretting your smartwatch purchase, make sure you've settled on a design you'll want to wear day in and day out. Take advantage of online tools like Apple's interactive customization gallery for the Apple Watch and the Moto 360 customizer, and consider trying on a smartwatch in person before making the purchase.

    Software Customizations

    You can't beat a simple download when it comes to freeways to change up your smartwatch. Head to the appropriate app store for your smartwatch and search for watch faces — you'll be amazed at how many varied, aesthetically pleasing options are available. Below, I'll outline the basic process for changing your watch face with different products along with other ways to make the devices your own with software tweaks.

    • The Apple Watch — While Apple currently doesn't support third-party watch faces, you can change the image on your device's screen to a number of preset options. On the upside, Apple's smallish selection of watch faces can be customized with so-called complications, such as the addition of weather information or current stock prices. Plus, you can create a custom watch face using photos stored on your iPhone.
    • Pebble — Unlike the Apple Watch, Pebble products work with third-party watch faces, and you'll find plenty to choose from in the app store. Options vary from designs that mimic analog watch faces to ones that highlight the current weather and even game-style interfaces.
    • Wear OS — You can choose from a ton of third-party smartwatch options when you own a Wear OS device. There are some wonderful choices from brands like Melissa Joy Manning, MANGO, and Y-3 Yohji Yamamoto.
    • General Advice — Don't forget to take a deep dive into your smartwatch's settings menu. Here, you'll find plenty of options for software customizations as well, from the way in which you receive alerts to screen brightness and sound. While these features may seem insignificant, taking the time to tweak them to your liking can ultimately result in a product that is perfectly tailored to your needs.