A guide to the Apple Watch generations (2023)

By Alex Blake


Which of the Apple Watch generations is the best for you? Find out with our comprehensive guide.

A guide to the Apple Watch generations (1)

As the years have passed since the original Apple Watch launched, more and more generations have been added to the line-up. And while the golden Apple Watch Edition is no longer with us, you now have the regular Apple Watch, the Apple Watch SE and the Apple Watch Ultra to choose from. But which should you pick?

That’s what our guide is for. We’ve sifted through all the latest Apple Watch model list – and looked at a few older versions as well – to show you just what you get for your money. As we've reviewed a fair few of the Watches, we are best placed to share our wisdom and help you decide which of the Apple Watch generations you should choose.

And if you can’t decide which iPhone to buy, we’ve got an iPhone model list to help you out. Similarly, our iPad generations list should put you right if you’re not sure which of Apple’s tablets is right for you.

The Apple Watch generations available now

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A guide to the Apple Watch generations (2)

Apple Watch Series 8 (2022)

All the latest Apple Watch features


Launch price: £419

Sizes: 45mm or 41mm

Display: Always-On Retina display with up to 1,000 nits of brightness

Chip: Apple S8, Apple W3 wireless chip, Apple U1 Ultra Wideband chip

Battery life: Up to 18 hours with fast charging, or up to 36 hours in Low Power Mode

Reasons to buy


A superb device all-round


Adds crash detection and cycle tracking

Reasons to avoid


Not a huge upgrade from the Series 7


Price increase over Series 7

The Series 8 is the latest Apple Watch you can get your hands on, and it encapsulates the excellent experience the Watch has come to epitomise. It has an always-on display that stretches close to the edges of the screen, the latest Apple S8 chip, and a range of attractive colours and straps.

That said, the Series 8 is a small upgrade over the Series 7, with crash detection, temperature sensing and ovulation cycle tracking being the main new features. If you’re new to the Apple Watch then it’s a great purchase – Apple makes the best smartwatches on the market, after all – but might not be worth the upgrade if you already have a Series 7.

A guide to the Apple Watch generations (3)

Apple Watch Ultra (2022)

The ultimate Apple Watch


Launch price: £849

Sizes: 49mm

Display: Always-On Retina display with up to 2,000 nits of brightness

Chip: Apple S8, Apple W3 wireless chip, Apple U1 Ultra Wideband chip

Battery life: Up to 36 hours with fast charging, or up to 60 hours in Low Power Mode

Reasons to buy


Perfect for outdoor activities


Stronger, brighter and longer-lasting

Reasons to avoid


Very expensive



The Apple Watch Ultra is the most high-end device in the Watch line-up, and it’s Apple’s attempt to go all-out for explorers and extreme sports enthusiasts. But it also offers plenty for people who just want an Apple Watch that does it all.

It has the largest and brightest display of any Apple Watch, a super-tough chassis, 36 hours of battery life, and an Action button with a range of uses. For rugged adventurers, there’s more accurate GPS, a location alert siren, and double the water resistance (down to 100m). It’s expensive, but it’s the Apple Watch to buy if you don’t want any compromises.

A guide to the Apple Watch generations (4)

Apple Watch SE (2nd generation) (2022)

The perfect Apple Watch introduction


Launch price: £259

Sizes: 44mm or 40mm

Display: Retina display with up to 1,000 nits of brightness

Chip: Apple S8, Apple W3 wireless chip

Battery life: Up to 18 hours

Reasons to buy




Many similarities with the Series 8

Reasons to avoid


No always-on display


Lacks fast charging

The Apple Watch SE (2nd generation) is a great way to get an Apple Watch without breaking the bank. It contains many of the features found in the Apple Watch Series 8, including an S8 chip, the same 50m water resistance, and the new crash detection and cycle tracking features.

It misses out on a few things, such as the always-on display and fast charging, but in return it can be picked up for £259 compared to the Series 8’s £419 price tag, a saving of £160. If you’re not bothered by what it lacks, it’s the perfect way into the Apple Watch ecosystem without having to cut back on much.

A guide to the Apple Watch generations (5)

Apple Watch Series 7 (2021)

Great value and still very modern


Launch price: £369

Sizes: 45mm or 41mm

Display: Always-On Retina display with up to 1,000 nits of brightness

Chip: Apple S7, Apple W3 wireless chip, Apple U1 Ultra Wideband chip

Battery life: Up to 18 hours with fast charging

Reasons to buy


Still packed with quality


More affordable than the Series 8

Reasons to avoid


Missing a few features


Not everywhere sells it

The Apple Watch Series 7 may have been superseded by the Series 8, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. In fact, because the Series 8 was only a marginal update, the Series 7 still holds its own today.

It was the first Apple Watch to adopt the larger, more expansive display, and it also introduced fast charging and a much more crack-resistant metal chassis, helping it last longer than ever. As well as that, its launch price was £369 versus the £419 of the Series 8, meaning you should be able to score a bargain if you’re interested in it.

Older Apple Watch models

  • Apple Watch Series 6 (2020)
  • Apple Watch SE (1st generation) (2020)
  • Apple Watch Series 5 (2019)

How many generations of Apple Watch are there?

Right now, Apple only sells one generation of Apple Watch on its website: the Series 8, SE (2nd generation), and Ultra, which are all from 2022. However, there are far more models than that if you start looking back.

The first Apple Watch launched in 2015, and since then there have been new models every year up to the present. That means an original Apple Watch, a (confusingly named) Apple Watch Series 1 distinct from the original Watch, then Series 2, Series 3, and so on up to the Series 8. The Apple Watch SE, meanwhile, is in its second generation.

There has only been one Apple Watch Ultra generation so far. There also used to be a special high-end model called the Apple Watch Edition, which launched in 2015. However, it was discontinued in 2022, and the last new model was released in 2019.

What’s the difference between Apple Watch 8 and SE?

Apple differentiates the Apple Watch SE as a lower-cost alternative to the Apple Watch Series 8. It lacks some features but costs £160 less, making it an excellent option if you’re not fussed about what it lacks.

So, what does it go without? Compared to the Series 8, the SE lacks the always-on display, IP6X dust resistance, blood oxygen and ECG measurements, temperature sensing, more detailed ovulation tracking (although it does track cycles), and fast battery charging. Its display options are 44mm and 40mm versus the Series 8’s 41mm and 45mm, and it only offers an aluminium finish, with no stainless steel option.

What is the difference between Apple Watch SE and 7?

Interestingly, the Apple Watch SE (2nd generation) has a few advantages over the Series 7. For example, it offers cycle tracking, crash detection and Compass Backtrack, which the Series 7 does not.

However, the Series 7 pulls ahead in other ways. Like the Series 8, it has features such as fast charging and an always-on display that you won’t get with the SE. You’ll need to think carefully about which features you need the most when deciding between these two models.

Should I buy a refurbished Apple Watch?

Buying a refurbished Apple Watch can be a great way to save money, but there are some things you need to be aware of.

You’ll need to check the reputation of the company doing the refurbishment. The renewal process should mean you get an Apple Watch that looks and feels brand new, otherwise you’re just getting a used device and not a refurbished one. Check reviews and find out what the company says it does to renew the Apple Watch, then make sure it’s what you want.

Apple offers refurbished Watches on its website, and here the quality is second to none. The company uses genuine new parts and includes fresh cables and packaging. Its prices can be a little higher than third-party repair companies, although that’s not always the case. And you end up with a Watch that feels just like a new product, but without the hefty price tag.

Want to delve deeper into Apple's tech? See our iPad generations list.

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A guide to the Apple Watch generations (6)

Alex Blake

Alex Blake is a freelance tech journalist who writes for Creative Bloq, TechRadar, Digital Trends, and others. Before going freelance he was commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine, focusing on the world of Apple products. His interests include web design, typography, and video games.

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