Watch Face- All you need to know before you create one

Watch Face- All you need to know before you create one

BY Surbhi Gupta 29 Apr 2020 Tizen Studio, Tizen

It goes without saying, these days technology runs in our lives. Smartphones, computers, smart watches- we really can’t function without them. In a very short period of time, technology has evolved and so have watches, wrist watches to be specific. Gone are the days when watches were only used to check time and were a status symbol especially for the horologists. The evolution of watches from mechanical watches in the 17th century to the invention of electronic quartz watch in the 1960s to today’s smartwatches has been astonishing.

Evolution of timepiece

Today, we use smart watches for a couple of things from reading texts, making calls to keeping track of our health – all on a small screen called a Watch Face- the dial of a watch. As per Gartner, watch buyers will spend more on smartwatches in the coming future than they have ever before. Gartner also predicts that by 2023, the smartwatches sale would grow to 115 million. Seeing this data, there is no doubt that companies will focus more on smartwatches that gives the developer in you a huge platform to explore and create watch faces. Watch faces not only make a good first impression of the watch but also are considered as a fashion adornment.

Watch face- a fashion accessory

In terms of a Tizen wearable or Samsung Smart Watch, watch faces are a special application type that run on the home screen of the watch. Different watch faces have different uses and can be interacted with in multiple ways. To begin with you can use HTML and JavaScript in Tizen Studio to create a basic watch face, and then using Tizen Web, Native, or .NET APIs, you can add a great many functionalities. This blog, helps you to do your homework before creating a watch face by helping you understand the five key features that the Tizen wearable provides.

Watch face- what it’s all about

Before we walk through the Big Five key features, let’s understand the basic requirements of creating a Watch Face. Watch Face is the first screen that appears when you turn on the smartwatch. It not only displays the time but also provides many useful functions. Understand and have a clear use case for creating a watch face.  Your watch face design must act as a companion to the circular shape of the screen.  Remember, your design will have a greater impact when you focus on a simple, core idea. One tip here is to concentrate on the benefits more than the features. Think of yourself as an end user and design based on what you would expect and what would be convenient for you when you look at the dial or face of your watch, for example, having the main component in the centre of the screen such as time. Watch face creation also gives you an opportunity to awaken your creative spirit and try to make it fashionable as it is truly said “A well-designed watch face transforms the watch into a fashionable timepiece.

Now that you have an idea of watch face, let’s bring together the five key features:

Design Type

We must not forget, no matter how smart the watch is, its basic functionality is- to tell the time. Watch face can take different forms usually categorized as analog or digital. These categories are based on how they display time. You can also customize a design type for your watch face. You can provide a conventional or a vintage-inspired look that has been prevalent in the watch world and has showed no signs of abating, or an entirely modern look - a style statement that you can design to keep users on track.

What is the time?

Watch Face States

Another thing you need to decide is the state of watch face. Watch faces have two different display states. When you want your user to see the display only when they lift their hands or rotate their wrists- to check the time, then opt for the active state of the watch face. Active state is used to highlight buttons or links when you tap them, and express concepts and moods using diverse colors. The other state is an always-on or ambient state. When you want watch face to always appear on the screen then opt for this state. The always-on state is set to low-power mode and color representation is restricted. Since the battery power consumption is different for both the states, what the watch can display in each state differs. When you decide the watch state, do not forget to consider the capabilities and limitations of each state in your design.

What’s your choice- Display always on or not?


Now that you have penned down the basic design, you can think of adding additional features. You can add step count, battery indicator, heart rate, icons such as message, music, or email icons, and many more. Complications are nothing but these additional features that are displayed in a watch face in addition to time. Complications are used to show certain key information from an app in an efficient way. When you think of complications, keep two points in mind, one- display information that is relevant to your watch face concept. For example, if it is sporty concept then you can consider adding step count or heart rate. Two- take care of the layout. If you are opting for more than one complication, then ensure that they are well placed and visually balanced on the circular screen with all other elements of your watch face.

Complications- spoilt for choices

System Icons

Now that you have all in place, then what about the status or notifications? This is where system icons come handy. Watch faces use small system icons that display the status of a particular function or setting at the top of the screen. Irrespective of the number of notifications, unread notifications appear as one orange dot at the 9 o’clock position. If you plan to use this, one point you must pay attention to is the selection of background color of watch face. Select a background such that the indicator is visible. To add to this, there is also an ongoing icon using which you can help users to easily access the currently running apps. This icon is placed at the bottom of the watch screen.

System Icons- Let’s turn on 'notifs'

Hourly Chime

Last but not the least, another feature that you could consider while designing your watch face is hourly chime. Hourly chimes especially in today’s busy life are a great way to keep track of time without looking at the watch every five minutes. Example of hourly chimes are hourly notifications to stretch, take a stroll, or drink water. With all these benefits, you would not want to miss considering this feature if you want your users to receive sound or vibration notifications at the beginning of every hour. There are three options that are self-explanatory that one could select from- sound, vibrate, or mute.

Hourly Chimes- The on-again-off again bell system

This is not the end but the beginning. What are you waiting for, make use of the big five and create some amazing watch faces. At last, try not to create a complex dashboard squished with every bit of data available; try to create something that the users can easily glance at to gather pertinent info- the type of info only a connected device could provide, and the type of info they would actually need to know at a glance.


Written by Surbhi Gupta