There are now three versions of Apple Watch. Here's what you need to know about each.

Trying to figure out which Apple Watch to get for Black Friday or the Holidays? Not sure if you should splurge on Series 2 or save some cash on Series 1? Buy new or look for a discounted Series 0 original Apple Watch? Whether you're shopping in-store or on-line, here's what you need to know!


With Apple's introduction of the next-generation Apple Watch, there are now three distinct versions of the company's wearable: the first-generation, which we've taken to calling "Series 0"; the speed-bumped Series 1; and the latest and greatest, Series 2.

Of course, it's all well and good to have generational labels, but as anyone who's ever read anything about "millennials" can attest, there's a lot of nuance and differences behind those monikers. What's the difference between each series of Watch — and more importantly, which should you buy? Here's the deal.

Everything you need to know about "Series 0"

The first-generation Apple Watch (or, as I've started calling it, "Series 0") was released April 2015, and discontinued in September 2016. Every watch Apple has manufactured up until September 2016 falls under this designation.

What models fall under Series 0?

  • 38mm & 42mm Sport: Silver, Space Grey, Gold, and Rose Gold aluminum
  • 38mm & 42mm Watch: Silver and Space Black steel
  • 38mm & 42mm Edition: Gold and Rose Gold 16k gold
  • 38mm & 42mm Hermes: Single Tour, Double Tour (38mm only), and Cuff (42mm only)

What are the dimensions of the 38mm and 42mm cases?

  • 38mm: 38.6mm x 33.3mm x 10.5mm (height x width x depth)
  • 42mm: 42mm x 35.9mm x 10.5mm

What are the features of Series 0?

  • An aluminum, steel, or 16k gold case
  • S1 single-core system-on-a-chip
  • IP7 water resistance, or "splash-proof"
  • Ion-X glass or Sapphire crystal display and composite or ceramic back
  • OLED Retina Display (450 nits* brightness)
  • Up to 18 hours battery life
  • Runs watchOS 3

*Nit = Unit of measurement that measures the light from a single candle. Thanks, Apple!

What's it missing?

Series 0 watches are different from Series 1 and 2 like so:

  • They run on a single core processor
  • They don't have a GPS antenna
  • They're not "swim-proof" (resistant up to 50m/150 feet)
  • No direct fire speaker (a speaker that ejects water after you've been swimming)
  • Sport watches don't have ceramic backs (composite only)
  • Retina display isn't as bright (450 nits vs 1000 nits)

Will I be able to run all my apps on a Series 0 watch?

There's currently nothing in watchOS 3 or the developer documentation that would bar you from running an app on a Series 0, 1, or 2 watch. It may run more sluggishly on a Series 0 wearable, but you should still be able to launch it without problems.

Anything else?

Series 0 models have been discontinued from sale, so if you own an original Apple Watch, you now own a limited-edition piece of the company's history. If you have an Hermes Cuff watch, this is doubly so: Both the Cuff and the Cuff version of the watch have been discontinued in Series 2.

Everything you need to know about Series 1

Rather than keep Series 0 watches around as entry-level models, Apple has revamped the processor and released a new version of its original design.

What models fall under Series 1?

As Series 1 is designed solely as an entry-level option, the only casings available are the low-cost Sport aluminum designs. If you want a steel casing, you'll have to pick up a Series 2 watch.

  • 38mm & 42mm Sport Silver Aluminum with White Sport Band
  • 38mm & 42mm Sport Space Gray Aluminum with Black Sport Band
  • 38mm Sport Gold Aluminum with Concrete Sport Band
  • 42mm Sport Gold Aluminum with Cocoa Sport Band
  • 38mm Sport Rose Gold Aluminum with Pink Sand Sport Band
  • 42mm Sport Rose Gold Aluminum with Midnight Blue Sport Band

How much does a Series 1 Apple Watch cost?

38mm watches are $269, while the 42mm version is $299.

What are the dimensions of the 38mm and 42mm cases?

  • 38mm: 38.6mm x 33.3mm x 10.5mm (height x width x depth), weighing 25g
  • 42mm: 42.5mm x 36.4mm x 10.5mm, weighing 30g

What are the features of Series 1?

  • An aluminum Sport casing
  • S1P dual-core system-on-a-chip
  • IP7 water resistance, or "splash-proof"
  • Ion-X glass display and composite back
  • OLED Retina Display (450 nits brightness)
  • Up to 18 hours battery life
  • Runs watchOS 3

What's it missing?

Series 1 watches are different from Series 0 and 2 like so:

  • They run on the same dual-core processor as Series 2
  • They use the S1P system on a chip because they don't have a GPS antenna
  • They're not "swim-proof" (resistant up to 50m/150 feet)
  • No direct fire speaker (a speaker that ejects water after you've been swimming)
  • They don't have ceramic backs (composite only)
  • Retina display isn't as bright (450 nits vs 1000 nits)
  • They're a tad bit thinner and lighter (10.5mm vs 11.4mm for Series 2), with 25g weight for the 38mm Series 1 Sport vs 28.2g for the Series 2 Sport.

When are they available?

You can pre-order a Series 1 Apple Watch on September 9, or pick one up outright on September 16.

Should you buy a Series 1 Apple Watch?

If you have a Series 0 Apple Watch, the main reason to upgrade to Series 1 would be to get the dual-core processor; until we've done more thorough testing on what kind of speed and battery benefits you'll receive, I can't definitively recommend upgrading.

If you have no Apple Watch and are debating between a Series 1 or Series 2, the question is whether GPS, swim resistance, and a ceramic back is worth a $100 increase in price. If you want to dip your toe into the Apple Watch ecosystem and don't plan to do much run-tracking or swimming, you can easily grab a Series 1 watch and enjoy the same internal performance improvements.

If money is no object, keep in mind that Series 1 is limited to the Sport aluminum casing; if you want a steel or ceramic casing, Hermes edition, or Nike+ edition, you'll want to invest in a Series 2 watch.

Everything you need to know about Series 2

Series 2 is the latest and greatest in Apple Watch, and encompasses the current Sport, Steel, Hermes, Edition, and Nike+ versions of the watch.

What models fall under Series 2?

  • 38mm & 42mm Sport: Silver, Space Grey, Gold, and Rose Gold aluminum
  • 38mm & 42mm Nike+: Silver and Space Grey aluminum with custom Sport bands
  • 38mm & 42mm Watch: Silver and Space Black steel
  • 38mm & 42mm Edition: Ceramic with Cloud Sport band
  • 38mm & 42mm Hermes: Single Tour, Double Buckle Cuff (38mm only), Double Tour (38mm only), and Single Tour Deployment Buckle (42mm only)

How much does a Series 2 Apple Watch cost?

These are the base prices for each model; specialized bands or anodizations will bump up the price.

  • Sport: $369 for 38mm, $399 for 42mm
  • Watch: $549+ for 38mm, $599+ for 42mm
  • Edition: $1249 for 38mm, $1299 for 42mm
  • Nike+: $369 for 38mm, $399 for 42mm
  • Hermes: $1149+ for 38mm, $1199+ for 42mm

What bands/accessories can you pair with the watch on purchase?

Sport

  • Sport band
  • Woven Nylon

Steel

  • Sport band
  • Leather bands (Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle)
  • Link bracelet

Edition

  • Cloud Sport band + Magnetic Charging Dock

Nike+

  • Custom Nike Sport band with perforations (not sold separately)

Hermes

  • Single Tour
  • Single Tour Deployment Buckle (42mm only)
  • Double Tour (38mm only)
  • Double Cuff (38mm only)

All Hermes watches additionally come with a custom Orange Hermes Sport band.

What are the dimensions of the 38mm and 42mm cases?

Sport

  • 38mm: 38.6mm x 33.3mm x 11.4mm, weighing 28.2g
  • 42mm: 42.5mm x 36.4mm x 11.4mm, weighing 34.2g

Steel/Hermes

  • 38mm: 38.6mm x 33.3mm x 11.4mm, weighing 41.9g
  • 42mm: 42.5mm x 36.4mm x 11.4mm, weighing 52.4g

Ceramic

  • 38mm: 39.2mm x 34mm x 11.8mm, weighing 39.6g
  • 42mm: 42.6mm x 36.5mm x 11.4mm, weighing 46.5g

What are the features of Series 2?

  • An aluminum, steel, or ceramic casing
  • S2 dual-core system-on-a-chip
  • GPS antenna
  • Water resistance to 50m/150 feet, or "swim-proof"
  • Direct fire speaker that ejects water after a swim
  • Ion-X glass (Sport or Nike+) or sapphire crystal display (Steel, Ceramic, Hermes) and ceramic back (all models)
  • OLED Retina Display (1000 nits brightness)
  • Up to 18 hours battery life
  • Runs watchOS 3

What's different?

Series 2 watches are different from Series 0 and 1 like so:

  • They sport a dual-core processor (50% faster than the single core and 2x as fast for graphics)
  • They use the S2 system-on-a-chip, which includes a GPS antenna
  • They're swim-proof
  • They have a direct fire speaker (which ejects water after you've been swimming)
  • All models have ceramic backs
  • Retina display is more than twice as bright as other models (1000 nits vs 450 nits)
  • They're bigger and heavier (11.4mm depth vs 10.5mm for Series 0/1), and weights range from 28.2g on the 38mm Sport to 46.5g on the 42mm Ceramic. (In contrast, the Series 1 38mm Sport weighs 25g.)

When are they available?

You can pre-order a Series 2 Apple Watch Sport, steel Watch, or ceramic Edition on September 9, or pick one up outright on September 16.

The Apple Watch Hermes will be available for pre-order on September 9, and in stores late September, while Nike+ will be available in late October.

Should you buy a Series 2 Apple Watch?

If you have a Series 0 Apple Watch, there are a few reasons to upgrade to a Series 2 model, including the faster chip, GPS, and higher water resistance. If you care about either of the latter two, the watch is a pretty great upgrade; if you're only in it for speed and battery benefits, I can't definitively recommend upgrading until we've done more thorough testing on what kind of speed and battery benefits you'll receive vs Series 0.

If you have no Apple Watch and are debating between a Series 1 or Series 2, the question is whether GPS, swim resistance, and a ceramic back is worth a $100 increase in price. If so, the Series 2 is a no-brainer: Starting at $369, it's the best version of Apple's smartwatch yet, and with new apps like Pokemon Go and Sky Guide set to further expand its abilities, it's a great model with which to enter the Apple Watch ecosystem.

Series 2 is also your only option for special versions of the watch, like the Nike+, Hermes, or Ceramic Edition models.

Questions?

Still have questions about how Series 0, Series 1, and Series 2 of the Apple Watch differ? Let me know below.