Best Apple Watch in 2023

If you're after the best Apple Watch, we have a selection of five choices for you to look though, covering different budgets and needs.

Best Apple Watch contenders arranged in a triangle formation over a Pocket Tactics background.

What is the best Apple Watch in 2023? With several models to choose from, it depends on whether you want your watch to monitor your health, take you on extreme adventures, or just look good on your wrist.

When Apple’s smartwatch first arrived in 2015, many thought that Apple would fail and would go back to what it does best – making computers and smartphones. That didn’t happen, of course, and Apple now controls around 50% of the global smartwatch market, becoming the timepiece of choice for those who have bought into the Apple ecosystem of iPhones and Mac computers.

An Apple Watch is arguably one of the best iPhone 15 accessories, and a perfect companion to the best gaming iPhone. These are the best Apple watches to adorn your wrist in 2023 and beyond.

Why you can trust our advice ✔ At Pocket Tactics, our experts spend days testing games, phones, tech, and services. We always share honest opinions to help you buy the best. Find out how we test.

The best Apple Watches are:

  1. Apple Watch Series 9 – best for early adopters
  2. Apple Watch Hermès – best looking
  3. Apple Watch Ultra 2 – rugged option
  4. Apple Watch SE – most affordable
  5. Apple Watch Series 7 – best for bargain hunters

Best Apple Watch: the Series 9 model.

1. Apple Watch Series 9

The best Apple Watch for early adopters.

Apple Watch Series 9 specs:

Display size 41mm or 45mm Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display
Brightness 2,000 nits
Battery life Up to 36 hours
Storage 64GB
Dimensions (W x D x H) 41mm: 35 x 10.7 x 41mm
45mm: 38 x 10.7 x 45mm
Weight 41mm Aluminum: 31.9g
41mm Stainless Steel: 42.3g
45mm Aluminum: 38.7g
45mm Stainless Steel: 51.5g


  • Super-bright screen
  • Fast, powerful processor
  • Double-tap has potential


  • Design is unchanged
  • Expensive

The pinnacle of Apple Watch design is Apple’s newest model, the Series 9. It is, predictably, achingly slick and polished. Any creases were ironed out generations ago, and it now falls to Apple to introduce tweaks and creeping upgrades to keep the public’s interest year-on-year.

This year, however, things are a little different. The latest S9 chip is a leap forward in Apple Watch terms. Using the same architecture as the A16 Bionic chip in the iPhone 14 Pro, the S9 silicon comfortably outperforms the Series 8’s S8 chip.

So, in processing terms at least, the Series 9 is moving in the right direction. What else? Well, there’s double tap gesture control, enabling users to control the Watch without even touching it by tapping their fingers together. For now, it’s a very impressive party trick without a killer application. As the Series 9 makes its way into more hands and the tech becomes more mature (early watches didn’t even ship with double tap), you’ll see more and more use cases for it. But is it a case of a solution to a non-existent problem? That remains to be seen.

The new display is one feature that’s no white elephant. With 2,000 nits of peak brightness, it’s twice as bright as the Series 8 and, more impressively, the one-nit minimum brightness means it won’t disturb a sleeping partner or ruin a cinema experience by lighting up everything like the 4th of July every time you tap the touchscreen.

For the first time in recent memory, the latest Apple Watch is a must-have upgrade. It’s as slick as always but now boasts the performance to match the latest iPhones. If you’re looking for even more detail on this device, check out our Apple Watch Series 9 review.

Best Apple Watch: the Hermès model.

2. Apple Watch Hermès

The best Apple Watch for fashionistas.

Apple Watch Hermès specs:

Display size 41mm or 45mm Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display
Brightness 2,000 nits
Battery life Up to 36 hours
Storage 64GB
Dimensions (W x D x H) 41mm: 1.38 x 0.42 x 1.6in (35 x 10.7 x 41mm)
45mm: 1.49 x 0.42 x 1.77in (38 x 10.7 x 45mm)
Weight 41mm:  1.49oz (42.3g)
45mm: 1.82oz (51.5g)


  • The last word in smartwatch style
  • Exclusive Hermès watch faces
  • Hermès fashion band and extra Sports Band included


  • Very expensive
  • No additional features

If you’re looking for the best Apple Watch for style-conscious users, the Apple Watch Hermès takes center stage. The Hermès and Apple collaboration began back in 2015, mere months after the original Apple Watch was released, and has been a staple of the range ever since. The latest Apple Watch Hermès shares an identical feature list with the Series 9 because it is a Series 9. Which begs the question: What do you get for the additional $800 premium? Well, you get an exclusive Hermès strap, a sport band, and a specially-designed Hermès watch face.

For 2023, the Apple Watch Hermès features webbing, knit, and rubber straps, reflecting the brand’s rich textile history and craftsmanship. The options include two woven bands – Toile H and Twill Jump – and the Bridon – the first-ever knitted Apple Watch strap. Additionally, the Clou de Selle – a strap made from prized Barénia calfskin – pays homage to the brand’s leatherworking prowess, and, finally, there’s the Kilim, a matte, waterproof rubber strap. The final touch is the new Hermès Radial watch face, inspired by Cape Cod’s nautical history, with numerals that light up to evoke the stars guiding ships home after nightfall.

If you hanker after the ultimate combination of smartwatch functionality and style and have the budget to match, the Apple Watch Hermès is the closest thing to a proper designer smartwatch. You could argue the case for Tag Heuer’s Connected Calibre E4, but this Hermès model offers better functionality and a larger helping of fashion house style.

Best Apple Watch: the Ultra 2.

3. Apple Watch Ultra 2

The best Apple Watch for outdoor types.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 specs:

Display size 49mm Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display
Brightness 3,000 nits
Battery life Up to 72 hours
Storage capacity 64GB
Dimensions (W x D x H) 1.73 x 0.57 x 1.93in (44 x 14.4 x 49mm)
Weight 61.4g


  • Huge battery life
  • Super-rugged
  • Emergency Siren is a neat touch


  • Too chunky for small wrists
  • Expensive

Sometimes, you have to go outside. It’s unavoidable. There are, however, those who walk among us who actively seek the outdoor life. Strange as it may seem, some people like to spend time in the ‘great’ outdoors, doing things like kayaking, running, hiking, or wild swimming. And it’s for those people that the Apple Watch Ultra 2 has been created.

The second most expensive (the Hermès model trumps it by $400), most rugged, and most powerful watch in Apple’s range has a 49mm, MIL-STD 810H-tested titanium case, which means it’s as tough as they come and more than up for anything you care to throw at it.

Its size can make it look a little daft if you have slender wrists, and it’s expensive, but those are the only two major criticisms you can lay at the Ultra 2’s door.

In addition to its rugged exterior, it has a few internal tricks up its sleeve. It features a depth and water temperature gauge for a start, and it’s EN13319-certified, so it can be used as a dive computer for recreational dives up to 40m in conjunction with the Oceanic+ app. It also boasts the battery power to match its outdoorsy potential, with up to 55 hours on a single charge.

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is a seriously impressive piece of wrist-borne tech that’s as comfortable sitting on a sofa as it is halfway up a mountain or 40m under the sea. It’s arguably the most useful Apple Watch we’ve yet seen, and the idea of this tech filtering down into the standard models is a really exciting proposition. Of late, Apple has been keen to double down on the Apple Watch’s safety features, and the Ultra 2 shifts those features into overdrive.

Best Apple Watch: the SE.

4. Apple Watch SE

The best Apple Watch for the whole family.

Apple Watch SE specs:

Display size 40 or 44mm Retina LTPO OLED display
Brightness 1,000 nits
Battery life Up to 18 hours
Storage capacity 32GB
Dimensions (W x D x H) 40mm: 1.34 x 0.42 x 1.57in (34 x 10.7 x 40mm)
44mm: 1.49 x 0.42 x 1.73in (38 x 10.7 x 44mm)
Weight 40mm: 0.93oz (26.4g)
44mm: 1.16oz (32.9g)


  • Affordable
  • Uses last year’s S8 chip
  • Fall and crash detection


  • Not as rugged as other models
  • Missing some health features
  • Older Apple Watches have better specs

So, the Apple Watch SE isn’t for you if you’re obsessed with owning the latest tech, want cutting-edge features, and don’t care how much it all costs. It is for you if you’re new to the world of smartwatches and want the best Apple smartwatch a limited budget can buy, or if you want to give an Apple Watch to someone in your family that doesn’t already have an iPhone. Family Setup means you can configure it for a family member without them having an Apple smartphone themselves.

As Apple’s entry-level model into the smartwatch ecosystem, the Apple Watch SE – like its iPhone SE counterpart – is a year or so off the pace in terms of tech. In this case, the Apple Watch SE has remained the same since 2022 and doesn’t have the feature set of even the older Series 7 watches; things like blood O2 and ECG functionality are missing.

However, the SE represents serious bang for your buck at a much keener price than even a refurbished Series 7 and around $150 less than the base model Series 9. And it’s easy to dwell on the features the SE lacks, like the U1 ultra-wideband chip that allows pinpoint location of other Apple devices, or the bigger, brighter screen found in the Series 9, or the latest S9 chip – it does have the S8 version from the Series 8 Apple Watch, however, so it’s only one generation behind.

Ultimately, the Watch SE isn’t for the spec-obsessed, die-hard Apple aficionados. It’s for people who want the convenience and feature-rich experience of a smartwatch that works seamlessly with their smartphone.

Best Apple Watch: the Series 7.

5. Apple Watch Series 7

The best Apple watch for bargain hunters.

Apple Watch Series 7 specs:

Display size 41mm or 45mm Always-On Retina LTPO OLED display
Brightness 1,000 nits
Battery life Up to 18 hours
Storage 32GB
Dimensions (W x D x H) 41mm: 1.38 x 0.42 x 1.6in (35 x 10.7 x 41mm)
45mm: 1.5 x 0.42 x 1.77in (38 x 10.7 x 45mm)
Weight 41mm Aluminum: 1.13oz (32g)
41mm Stainless Steel: 1.49oz (42.3g)
41mm Titanium: 1.3oz (37g)
45mm Aluminum: 1.37oz (38.8g)
45mm Stainless Steel: 1.82oz (51.5g)
45mm Titanium: 1.6oz (45.1g)


  • Unique blue and green colors
  • Refurbished models are the same price as the SE
  • Water- and dust-resistant with a tough touchscreen


  • Battery life can’t rival Series 9
  • Series 9 display is brighter
  • Missing some of the latest health functions

For around the same money you’d spend on the Apple Watch SE, you can get hold of a refurbished Apple Watch Series 7. Yes, it has the older S7 chip – although there’s precious little difference between the S7 and S8 chip anyway – but it also adds the ECG and blood O2 functionality that’s missing from the SE. If you want to use your Apple Watch to monitor your health, those features are pretty useful.

From an aesthetic perspective, you might be interested in the Apple Watch Series 7 for two reasons: the blue and green color options. Unique to the Series 7, if you’re looking for a standout color scheme, you might want to consider the Series 7.

Then there’s the 50% thicker crystal face and the IP6X dust-resistant rating, features that still aren’t standard on the Apple Watch SE.

If you’re a bargain hunter looking for a deal on a great Apple Watch, the Series 7 is the way to go. While 2022’s Series 8 offered minor updates, it lacked the big sensor upgrade we hoped for. As a result, the Series 7 has remained popular. Refurbished models represent spectacular value for money, and while it’s no rival to the Ultra 2, the Series 7 is water-resistant to 50m, so it can be used for swimming in the pool or the sea.

If you don’t have to have the absolute latest tech, you can save around 50% and still have an attractive and feature-packed Apple smartwatch on your wrist.

Is an Apple Watch worth buying?

While not essential, like a laptop or smartphone, an Apple Watch gives you access to a fair chunk of your smartphone’s functionality when you’re out and about. Also, the health monitoring elements of an Apple Watch can help you keep track of fitness or monitor your heart health and sleep patterns, which can help put your mind at ease. It also means you won’t miss crucial emails, messages, and news while you’re away from your phone.

An Apple Watch gives you access to a whole host of watch-specific apps that can help you in the gym, on your commute or when you just happen to be away from your phone.

What can you do with an Apple Watch?

From a health perspective, the Apple Watch can monitor your heart rhythm, bpm, and help you track your fitness with stats like VO2 and bloody oxygen levels. It’s a great fitness partner, and since it’s waterproof, you can even take it swimming with you.

If you’ve got a cellular contract for your watch, you can also pair it with your existing number and leave your phone at home – just remember to pack some earphones, or you’ll be sharing your whole conversation with the train carriage.

While relatively simple, one of the most useful features of the Apple Watch – and particularly the Series 9 – is that it can help you locate your phone by playing a tone via Bluetooth. The latest Apple Watches feature an Ultra Wideband chipset that allows precision location without letting everyone else know you’ve lost your phone (again).

Do you need an iPhone to use an Apple Watch?

Apple’s Family Setup lets you configure an Apple Watch for a family member without them needing to have an iPhone. Once it’s set up, your family member can use a variety of features, including the music player, maps, and health apps. However, if you’re streaming content, you’ll either need a cellular plan or to be connected to Wi-Fi. And you do need an iPhone to set it up in the first place.

If you just want to buy an Apple Watch independently and have an Android smartphone, for example, you won’t be able to set it up without first pairing it with an iPhone.