Best Apple Watch for Women iMore 2021
When the Apple Watch was first announced, I wasn't sure I could pull it off with my small, female wrist. But after seeing it looking chic on an even smaller woman's wrist, I was convinced. I ordered my Apple Watch the same day, and it's been one of my favorite things ever since. Though it's not in my budget to purchase a new Apple Watch every generation, if it were, I'd absolutely pick up the latest Series 5.
- Best Overall: Apple Watch Series 5
- Best Splurge: Apple Watch Hermès
- Best for Athletes: Apple Watch Nike
- Best Value: Apple Watch Series 3
Best Overall: Apple Watch Series 5
When I worked at the Apple Store, I spent weeks in training learning precisely how to match each person with the right tech for them. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to technology. But for most people, I recommended the newest tech that fits in the budget. The newer the technology, the longer Apple will support software updates on it, so you can hold on to it for years to come.
The lowest-priced option of this series is a GPS-only 40mm aluminum Apple Watch Series 5 with a Sport Band or Sport Loop. Going up in price from there, you can go for the larger 44mm size, get the cellular model, upgrade the case materials, or get a more expensive band. Unlike previous generations, now you can purchase your Apple Watch with the precise band you want, rather than a few pre-set case and band combinations.
The Apple Watch Series 5 (as well as the Series 4 before it) features a slimmer form factor, so it's not as bulky on the wrist. The bezels are smaller in comparison to the Series 3 and earlier models, so you get a larger screen without the case being larger. New to the Series 5 is the much-requested Always-On Retina display, so you don't have to flick your wrist to see the time.
- The latest technology
- Wide range of colors, materials, sizes, bands, and price
- Small bezels
- Slim form factor
- Always-On Retina display
- Somewhat pricey
Latest and greatest
This is the watch I'd buy if I were buying an Apple Watch today.
Best Splurge: Apple Watch Hermès
There is no denying that this is a splurge, and I cannot justify the extra expense from a technology standpoint. Tech-wise, this watch is no better or worse than the rest of the Series 5. Yes, it has the sapphire face, stainless steel case, and cellular capability of upper-middle of the Series 5 price range, as you would expect. But all of the extra money you'd pay for the Apple Watch Hermès on top of that is purely for fashion and brand name recognition. It sure is a beaut.
The Apple Watch Hermès comes with your choice of gorgeous, high-quality Hermès leather bands, and the selection is updated seasonally. Additionally, the Hermès watch comes with exclusive Apple Watch faces that you only get if you purchase this particular model.
- All of the Series 5 features
- Top-quality leather Hermès band
- Exclusive faces
- Very pricey
Luxury branding times two
For fans of the Hermès brand, this will be a worthy splurge.
Best for Athletes: Apple Watch Nike
This is just another variation of the Apple Watch Series 5, but this has some fun additions. Like the Apple Watch Hermès, there are exclusive bands and faces. Unlike the Apple Watch Hermès, there is no extra charge for them. The Nike bands include a Sport Loop and a Sport Band that has holes in it for added ventilation. Both of the Nike band styles are designed to keep your wrist cool while you work up a sweat.
The color options do change seasonally, so don't wait too long if Nike releases a color band you like. In addition to the special Nike bands, you also get exclusive Nike watch faces. While anyone can purchase a Nike band after the fact, the Nike watch faces are only for the Apple Watch Nike and cannot be added later.
- All of the Series 5 features
- Exclusive Nike watch faces
- Comes with perforated Nike Sport Band or a Nike Sport Loop
- No extra charge for Nike brand exclusives
- Must choose a Nike band
- No stainless steel option
Best for Athletes
Run, bike, swim, and more
Nike fans will enjoy the branded faces and sweat-friendly breathable bands.
Best Value: Apple Watch Series 3
The Apple Watch Series 3 is what I am currently rocking. Of course, it wasn't a "best value" when I bought it two years ago, but it is now. I still love it as much as I did on day one. Sure, you won't get the newest features such as the slimmer form factor, narrower bezels, fall detection, Always-On Retina Display, and new watch faces. But you'll still have everything the Apple Watch is known for, from the health and fitness tracking to the convenient notification and communication features. I expect Apple to support Apple Watch Series 3 with updates for years to come since Apple is still selling it new.
For anyone just wanting to get into the Apple Watch life and not overly concerned about having the "latest and greatest," the Apple Watch Series 3 is still an excellent choice. It runs about half the price of the least expensive Apple Watch Series 5. This the watch I own, and it doesn't yet feel out of date to me at all. Even as a tech writer, I can wait another generation or two to upgrade.
- Great value
- Fantastic health and fitness tracker
- All of the core Apple Watch features
- Released in September 2017
- Thicker form factor and bezels
- No fall detection or Always-On Retina display
While it's an older model, it's still a fantastic device at half the price.
When I worked at the Apple Store, customers often referred to the smaller Apple Watch as the "women's" and the larger one as the "men's." Of course, any gender can wear any Apple Watch, and that goes for this entire article, so take it as you will. There certainly are no "shoulds" or "musts" when it comes to gender and the Apple Watch. I know quite a few women rocking 42/44mm Apple Watches as well as men rocking 38/40mm Apple Watches. I believe everyone should wear what they like. My suggestions reflect my own personal taste (and frame) and what I'd recommend to my mom, my daughters, and my girlfriends.
If I were handed an Apple gift card and instructed to go buy a new Apple Watch today, I'd go with the Apple Watch Series 5. Specifically, I'd go for silver-toned stainless steel with the Milanese Loop, because I think that the stainless steel has a more jewelry-like aesthetic. If the gift card weren't enough to cover it, I'd go for the gold aluminum with the pink sport band instead, because it's just darn cute.
Credits — The woman that worked on this guide
Karen S. Freeman is a teacher, writer, social media person, avid Apple Watch user, and family woman. She loves to travel, play with tech stuff, drink coffee, discover amazing new restaurants, and experience new things.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.