Apple Watch Face Design Studio Showcases Detailed Photography Process

Wired earlier this morning posted an interview with Apple Human Interface Chief Alan Dye, in which Dye discusses a few lesser-known details of the Apple Watch, specifically giving Wired an inside look at the obsessive level of detail that went in to making each of the Watch's customizable faces.

AppleWatch_Process_Book_HI-kwc01-16-1024x691

An Apple designer works to capture a jellyfish for a photograph in Apple's design studio

During the interview, Dye elaborates on his team's enormous talent, but says what makes them work so well is that they "really care" about what they create. Echoing back to Steve Jobs' creative concern over every bit of minutiae within any one of Apple's products, Dye begins discussing the process of capturing a simple flower bloom for one of the Apple Watch faces.

Yet what Dye seems most fascinated by is one of the Apple Watch’s faces, called Motion, which you can set to show a flower blooming. Each time you raise your wrist, you’ll see a different color, a different flower. This is not CGI. It’s photography.

“We shot all this stuff,” Dye says, “the butterflies and the jellyfish and the flowers for the motion face, it’s all in-camera. And so the flowers were shot blooming over time. I think the longest one took us 285 hours, and over 24,000 shots.”

The same goes for the jellyfish face, which was captured by the team after building a tank within the design studio and shooting a variety of different species at 300 frames-per-second with high-end Phantom cameras. The resulting 4096 x 2304 images were shrunk down to fit the Watch screen, Dye noting “when you look at the Motion face of the jellyfish, no reasonable person can see that level of detail. And yet to us it’s really important to get those details right.”

AppleWatch_Process_Book_HI-kwc01-5-1024x691

A look at Apple's detailed process in photographing jellyfish, butterflies, and flowers for the Watch.

The Mickey Mouse face features a similar level of detail, with the popular mouse's feet tapping in exact rhythmic beat to a one second count. Dye claims that if one were to line up 100 Apple Watches with the Mickey face on, his foot would tap in perfect unison on each one. The astronomy faces are some of Dye's favorites, however, with the Apple chief noting how hard the team worked to perfect the Earth and Moon's daily orbits and cycles.

Dye points out the subtlety of this face. “When you tap on the Earth and fly over the moon: We worked really hard with our engineering team to make sure the path you take from your actual position on the Earth to where the moon is and seeing its phase, is true to the actual position of the Earth relative to the moon.”

Wired interviewed both Dye and Apple vice president of technology Kevin Lynch earlier in April, with the two providing some behind-the-scenes knowledge on everything from the origins of the Apple Watch to the reasoning behind the look of the fitness-related medals.

Check out the full Wired interview here.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 7
Related Forum: Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

pee jay bee Avatar
84 months ago
Some aspects of the UI I absolutely hate - the confusing fitness milestone icons, ugly glossy emojis, creepy white hand, exploding hearts etc. Way too skeuomorphic and just plain ugly. Just my opinion, of course.

I think people are misunderstanding skeuomorphism, which is about real world features represented on a screen. Stitches in leather, shadows under watch hands, torn paper calendars etc.

3D emoticons and hands are not skeuomorphic.

Mind you, I totally agree, those emoticons are horrible and the worst thing about the Watch. I like the fitness rings though.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
2457282 Avatar
84 months ago
So, skeuomorphism is back?

:D
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Michaelgtrusa Avatar
84 months ago
Some quality people at Apple.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pee jay bee Avatar
84 months ago
So, skeuomorphism is back?

:D

A photo or movie on a screen isn't skeuomorphic. I think they're nice and just show the attention to detail within the RandD of this Watch
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kagharaht Avatar
84 months ago
I for one appreciate the level of detail that Apple does for their products. Some blows it off as a waste of time and effort. Thats fine, everybody is different. For me, I love it. The fit and finish of Apple hardware products is astonishing.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AngerDanger Avatar
84 months ago
As impressed as I am by the level of detail strived for with the photography, this doesn't seem to be nearly as amazing:

The Mickey Mouse face features a similar level of detail, with the popular mouse's feet tapping in exact rhythmic beat to a one second count.
The exact second? Is that feat even possible in a watch?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

m1x mac mini screen feature

High-End 'M1X' Mac Mini With New Design and Additional Ports Expected to Launch in the 'Next Several Months'

Sunday August 22, 2021 5:59 am PDT by
Apple can be expected to launch an updated high-end Mac mini with a new design and a faster "M1X" Apple silicon processor in the "next several months," Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports. In the latest publication of his Power On newsletter, Gurman writes that a new high-end Mac mini, which has previously been reported to feature a new design with additional ports, can be expected to replace...
mac scanner permission error

Apple Says Fix Planned for 'You Do Not Have Permission to Open the Application' Error When Using a Scanner on Mac

Saturday August 14, 2021 6:15 am PDT by
In a newly published support document on its website, Apple has acknowledged an error that some users may receive when they try to use a scanner with a Mac in the Image Capture app, Preview app, or the Printers & Scanners section of System Preferences. A screenshot of the error message from the HP Support Community When attempting to use a scanner with a Mac, Apple said users might get an...
iCloud General Feature

iCloud+'s New Custom Email Domain Feature Now Available in Beta

Wednesday August 25, 2021 7:48 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, users with a paid iCloud+ storage plan can personalize their iCloud email address with a custom domain name, such as johnny@appleseed.com, and the feature is now available in beta. iCloud+ subscribers interested in setting up a custom email domain can visit the beta.icloud.com website, select "Account Settings" under their name, and select ...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
macbookpro13large

macOS Big Sur Update Bricking Some Older MacBook Pro Models

Sunday November 15, 2020 5:33 am PST by
A large number of late 2013 and mid 2014 13-inch MacBook Pro owners are reporting that the macOS Big Sur update is bricking their machines. A MacRumors forum thread contains a significant number of users reporting the issue, and similar problems are being reported across Reddit and the Apple Support Communities, suggesting the problem is widespread. Users are reporting that during the...
m1 imac orange

New iMac Tidbits: Headphone Jack on Side, Ethernet Port on Power Adapter, Spatial Audio and WiFi 6 Support, No SD Card Slot

Wednesday April 21, 2021 6:38 am PDT by
Apple yesterday announced a completely redesigned 24-inch iMac with the M1 Apple silicon chip. The new iMac, the first major redesign of the Mac desktop computer since 2012, has several changes compared to the previous generation. In the aftermath of the event, a few new features and tidbits may have slipped under the radar, so we’ve compiled this list of some of the less-talked-about...
General YouTube Feature 1

YouTube Premium and Music Surpass 50 Million Subscribers

Friday September 3, 2021 2:19 am PDT by
YouTube says it has passed 50 million subscribers for its Premium and Music subscriptions, making it the "fastest growing music subscription" service in the world, according to YouTube's global head of music, Lyor Cohen. YouTube says that it has more than 50 million paying subscribers collectively across YouTube Premium and YouTube Music. The Google-owned service says it attributes this...
Top Stories 75 Thumbnail

Top Stories: Last-Minute iPhone 13 Rumors, Apple Announces App Store Changes, and More

Saturday September 4, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
The finish line is in sight! Apple's annual iPhone event is likely just a week or so away and all eyes will be on the company as it unveils the next version of its most popular product line. With any luck, we'll also see the next-generation Apple Watch and perhaps even some new AirPods. Other news this week saw Apple making some more changes to its App Store policies in response to a...
omg lightning cable comparison

Security Researcher Develops Lightning Cable With Hidden Chip to Steal Passwords

Thursday September 2, 2021 6:59 am PDT by
A normal-looking Lightning cable that can used to steal data like passwords and send it to a hacker has been developed, Vice reports. The "OMG Cable" compared to Apple's Lightning to USB cable. The "OMG Cable" works exactly like a normal Lightning to USB cable and can log keystrokes from connected Mac keyboards, iPads, and iPhones, and then send this data to a bad actor who could be over a...
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...