Garmin’s Connect IQ app store currently boasts over 1 800 different custom watch face options for you to choose from. Here are five of our top favourites that you can download today and have some fun with this weekend. 

Custom watch faces add a fun element to your Garmin sportswatch, letting your personality and interests shine through for the world to see. You get colourful ones, playful ones, aesthetically-pleasing ones, right up to professional-looking options with serious faces for the no-nonsense crowd. But fun and aesthetics aside, the biggest advantage of these apps is users get to choose watch faces that display much more information than the standard built-in options Garmin provides – allowing users to see all their desired information at a glance. Most apps specialize in optimizing the display to show as much information as possible. Many also allow users to configure some settings themselves, such as changing the colours of certain elements on the display – making sure you really get what you want and satisfy your needs.

However, not all custom watch face apps are created equal. Although Garmin develops their own (which you can categorically rely on), the majority are developed by a community of passionate hobbyists using the Connect IQ SDK platform. As a consequence, some can be a bit buggy or drain battery power more than you’d like. So before downloading anything it’s always a good idea to read the comments and see what others have to say. Another good indicator that the watch face you like is worth the bother is the number of downloads. If thousands are using it and the comments are good, then it has to be okay!

Quality watch face designs take a number of factors into account. Centurion-based custom watch face developer, Hermo Terblanche, explains: “First, the app must honour the unit settings of the device. So if a user’s preferred unit for distance is km, it shouldn’t display miles. Same for the time format. If your system’s setting is a 24 hour format, it shouldn’t display the time in a 12 hour format. It should also allow you to configure certain aspects yourself so you can get exactly what you want. Finally, you have to consider the overall design, layout and attention to detail. But this is subjective, you’ll know what you like when you see it.” He also suggests that you go for developers who provide adequate support and are easy to communicate with via social media platforms.

That said, here’s our top 5 custom watch face picks of the week that you can download now and have fun with this weekend:

Better Original
Better Original is like the original watch face made by Garmin, except with a few minor improvements to clean up its act. It shows daily steps, daily distance, calories burned (resting and active), day of week, day in month, phone connection and percent of battery remaining (toggle-able) – all in an easy to read design. The colour of the hour digits changes, corresponding to whether it’s day or night, but can also be changed in the app settings. An exclamation mark indicates the number of notifications you have, and the bell (with a number) represents the number of alarms set. This app also supports 12 and 24 hour time formats, as well as distance walked in kilometres or miles.

You can customise the following yourself: Background colour (black or white); hour and minute colours; turn on or off battery percentage; turn on or off daily statistics; turn on or off the leading zero on the hour; show or hide movement bar (currently disabled until the developer fixes a bug that keeps crashing the app).

Download Better Original here

Moonstruck is an astronomical watch face showing sun, moon, twilight, altitude, second time zone and some basic tidal data. This fun app lets you follow the “sky-race” between sun and moon on your watch. And you can configure the colours of the background, numbers and hands to suit your personal style.

Features include: Graphical sunrise and sunset (requires last known position from a GPS activity); twilight (civil and nautical); sun hand (24h hand) shows position of sun in the sky; moon hand shows position of moon in the sky; moon age and moon phase; altitude; second time zone; different colour styles for twilight; step goal gauge, showing percentage of your daily goal (if activity monitor is activated on your watch); battery and Bluetooth indicators.

Download Moonstruck here

The NoFrills watch face gives you just that – a colourful, easy to read watch face with no frills. One great feature though is the way the large clock digits get used to represent your accumulating step count. They progressively “filling up” with water as you work towards your goal. It gives this app a fun, jaunty look. However, if you don’t like this feature, it’s easy to disable.

Other features include the ability to configure the step counter to display distance and calories instead of steps and goal, 12 / 24 hour format and move bar (which can be disabled). It shows your heart rate (but only on models with built-in wrist/optical HR). Date options include a number of configurable formats and it comes with a number of set alarms, too. Plus you get a good few notification icons, including Bluetooth and battery percentage, and all colours are fully configurable.

Download NoFrills here

If you’re an unashamed data geek, then the Line watch face will definitely work for you. And it’s clean, easy-to-read face packs in a lot of detail. Features include distanced walked during the day, your heart rate, a calorie count and message notifications, along with the normal battery level indicator and Bluetooth icon.

It also has the ability to provide real-time weather and temperature updates via (however, you need to register and get your own API key). If your watch has a built-in pressure sensor it’ll connect automatically for updates, but if not it’ll use your phone. Naturally, it tells the time and the date. And 64 available colour options let you configure it to look the way you like.

Download Line here

Steam Gauge
A firm favourite, Steam Gauge evokes a decidedly traditional aviation theme with its “steam gauge” style analogue dials. Default complications include “power reserve” (aka battery remaining), date and day of week, and seconds or UTC time hour hand depending on device capabilities. Large, decorative 12 O’clock “sword” watch hands and Eurostile typeface complete the classy design.

What’s great about this app is how configurable it is – giving you the opportunity to come up with your own bespoke design and stand out from the crowd. To give you an idea, it can be “tweaked” to provide over 750 different unique looks. You get 24 different coloured backgrounds, two 12 O’clock colours, 4 left gauge options and 4 bottom gauge options. You can also change the function of the left and bottom gauges to show battery life, steps, UTC time, or an alternate time zone. – (c) 2017 NavWorld

Download Steam Gauge here

About The Author

Sean Woods

Originally a photographer for the Star newspaper in the bad old days, Sean Woods turned to writing after the first democratic elections in '94. The career shift paid serious dividends, culminating in him becoming associate editor for Popular Mechanics magazine with a number of technology writing awards under his belt. His interests include anything to do with boats, motorcycles and all those fancy tech gadgets that help the modern world go around.

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