For almost a decade, Apple has released an Apple Watch every fall. Each release is greeted like the turning of the leaves; welcome, but not necessarily mind-blowing. 2022’s rugged Apple Watch Ultra (8/10, WIRED Recommends) was one of the biggest launches we’d seen in years. The Series 8 (8/10, WIRED Recommends), which also debuted last year, introduced skin temperature sensing—nice, but we’ve seen similar features on wearables like the Oura ring for years.
For its tenth anniversary in either 2024 or 2025, Apple is rumored to give the Watch a complete revamp, and maybe even a new name (the catchy Apple Watch X). In the meantime, 2023 sees a few upgrades, including a faster processor, a new pink color, and a new feature called Double Tap that lets you play music or start and stop workouts with a little flick of your fingers.
This year’s Series 9 looks basically the same as the Series 8. This year, it has a faster S9 chipset. (Apple has used the same chip for every watch since the Series 6, which includes last year’s Series 8 and Ultra.) This will theoretically make processing much faster than in the Series 8 and help improve the battery life. Siri requests can now be processed on-device, which means that requests don’t have to travel to and from the crowd. A blippy Wi-Fi connection or poor cell coverage can’t keep your from starting or stopping a workout with your watch. There’s also a new pink color. (Sweet.)
At $799, this year’s Watch Ultra 2 is still the priciest watch in Apple’s line-up. The Ultra 2 has a new, freakishly bright display that reaches 3,000 nits (for context, the iPhone 14 Pro maxes out at 2,000 nits). A new modular watch face display utilizes that bright display to check sports data that changes by the second, like your elevation.
Both the Ultra Watch 2 and the Series 9 also have a new feature called Double Tap. Starting in a month, you can tap your index finger and your thumb together on your watch hand for simple actions like hanging up a call, starting a timer, or starting your music. The watch processes data from the gyroscope and accelerometer and uses machine learning algorithms to process minute changes in blood flow to detect your tiny motions. This is helpful if, as Apple predicts, you are frequently using your other hand to walk your dog or slurp gallons of coffee.
As some Apple products get older, their update cycles get longer and longer. This year the Apple Watch SE, the company’s entry-level option, didn’t see any upgrades at all. Last year it got a refresh with a new, lighter nylon back. Just like last year’s model, the SE is mostly defined by what it doesn’t have as compared to your spendier watch options (i.e. blood oxygen monitoring, temperature sensing, or dual-band GPS).
You can pre-order all the watches starting today. The watches will be available everywhere on September 22. The SE retails for $249; the Watch Series 9 for $399, and the Watch Ultra 2 will retail for $799.
Sustainability was a huge focus for Apple this year. The company announced that the watches would use recycled cobalt in the battery and recycled materials in the case; however, it wouldn’t be an Apple Watch announcement if it weren’t accompanied by a bunch of new accessories that you can buy.