Should you get the aluminum, stainless steel, or ceramic Apple Watch?

Should you get the aluminum, stainless steel, or ceramic Apple Watch? Here's how to pick!

Apple Watch Series 2 comes in your choice of three different materials with distinct properties and price points all their own. There's anodized aluminum — the same material Apple uses for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. There's stainless steel, which is heavier but stronger and a favorite of many watch-wearers. And there's ceramic, which replaces last year's 18K gold on the high end with something even more scratch-proof — and expensive — than steel. So, which should you choose?

Price points

The different Apple Watch materials all come with different price points, from entry-level to high-end.

  • Aluminum starts at $369.
  • Stainless steel starts at $599.
  • Ceramic starts at $1249.

So, if price is your most important consideration, aluminum is priced the lowest.

Heavy materials

Aluminum weights:

  • 38mm: 28.8g
  • 42mm: 34.2g

Stainless steel weights:

  • 38mm: 41.5g
  • 42mm: 52.4g

Ceramic weights:

  • 38mm (rose gold): 39.2g
  • 42mm (rose gold): 45.6g

So, if you want the lightest Apple Watch possible, you want the aluminum Apple Watch.

Scratch and damage resistance

Unfortunately, with great lightness does not come great hardness. Here's how the different materials hold up to damage.

  • The aluminum Apple Watch is the "softest" and the anodization could scratch or chip.
  • The stainless steel Apple Watch is much, much harder, especially the black model with diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating.
  • The ceramic Apple Watch is even harder than steel but is potentially easier to shatter if dropped onto a hard surface.

So, if resistance to damage is the absolute most important thing to you, the stainless steel watch in general, and the space black version in particular, offer the best combination of scratch and shatter resistance.

Color matches

Apple Watch comes in a variety of colors, depending on the material.

  • Silver aluminum
  • Space gray aluminum
  • Gold aluminum
  • Rose gold aluminum
  • Polished stainless steel
  • Space black stainless steel
  • White ceramic

When you buy additional bands, though, the lugs won't always match the case.

  • Sport bands have colored lugs.
  • Woven nylon have colored lugs.
  • Leather buckles and loops have polished stainless steel lugs.
  • Stainless steel link bracelet and Milanese loop have polished stainless steel lugs.
  • Space gray steel link bracelet and Milanese loop have space black lugs.

So, if matching the lugs to the case is important to you, stainless steel offers the widest possible compatibility.

Who should get the aluminum Apple Watch?

If you're into physical fitness and you want the lightest Apple Watch you can get; if you're going to be rough enough with it — or likely to lose it — and want the most affordable replacement option possible; if you're not sure about Apple Watch and want to try it out at the lowest cost-of-entry; or if you simply love the way the bead-blasted aluminum and those gold and rose gold options look, you should get the aluminum Apple Watch.

See at Apple

Who should get the stainless steel Apple Watch?

If you love watches and want something heavy but not too heavy; classic on the outside but ultra-modern within; made out of strong materials like stainless steel and sapphire crystal; and with the widest range matching bands possible; or if you want a watch but aren't precious about your metals, the stainless steel is for you.

See at Apple

Who should get the ceramic Apple Watch?

If money is no object; if you're into ceramic watches in general, if you want the most scratch-resistant surface possible, if iPod-white is your jam, or if you simply want something that stands out in a crowd, you want the ceramic Apple Watch.

See at Apple

Your Apple Watch pick?

If you're still not sure which Apple Watch you should get, check out our Apple Watch help and discussion forums. Otherwise, let me know which material you're choosing and, once you have it, what you think of it!