Like it or not, a lot of what Apple does, others follow. In other words, what’s important to Apple, you can bet will become very important to others within as well as outside of its industry. As such, the ninth Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Series 9 (or Apple Watch S9) is notable not just for its technological advancements, which we are looking at in this article, but also because it is the first-ever fully carbon-neutral Apple product – and likely the first carbon-neutral watch ever made. The greater luxury watch industry, despite the considerable margins and relatively rather more leisurely pace it has been operating with, has barely lifted a finger as far as this matter is concerned, but that might begin to change soon.

Hands-on images by our Ripley Sellers.

Apple Watch Series 9 new features at a glance.

Apple Watch Series 9 new features at a glance.

First, here’s what’s new in the latest Apple Watch Series 9 at a glance:

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  • Available in 41mm and 45mm sizes in starlight, midnight, silver, (PRODUCT) RED, and a new pink aluminum case, as well as stainless steel in gold (color), silver, and graphite cases.
  • New S9 SiP chip allows new double tap gesture: On your watch-wearing hand tap your thumb and index finger twice to access and modulate various features e.g. answer calls, snooze alarms, start timers, trigger your iPhone to take a picture, etc.
  • Brighter display up to 2,000 nits, double that of Series 8, for easier visibility in direct sunlight
  • Darker display down to 1 nit for when waking up or using in the dark, etc.
  • 18-hour battery life.
  • Precision Finding with 2nd-gen Ultra Wideband (UWB) will help you find your iPhone 15 with visual, haptic, and audio guidance.
  • New watch faces: Snoopy, Palette, Solar Analog, and new Nike Globe that lights up the lines on the globe with each passing second.

Other notable features of watchOS 10 and the Apple Watch S9 include redesigned apps and a new Smart Stack to show relevant widgets when they are needed; expanded Bluetooth connectivity with power meters, speed sensors, cadence sensors, new metrics and Workout Views, and cycling workouts. New Compass Waypoints and Maps capabilities are also here to help outdoor adventure navigations. Functions of the Apple Watch Series 9 linked to health and well-being include a “state of mind logging” in the Mindfulness app which sounds rather futuristic in a questionably positive way and the ability to measure time spent in daylight using the ambient light sensor that comes across as something a whole lot nicer and less upsetting.

The new Apple Carbon Neutral logo.

The new Apple Carbon Neutral logo that’ll featured on applicable Apple Watch packaging.

Returning to what is perhaps the most important milestone introduced by the Apple Watch Series 9 not just in the eight-year history of the Apple Watch but also Apple itself: a fully carbon-neutral product. Carbon neutrality is a touchy subject because it ranges anywhere from unashamed greenwashing to genuine efforts made to significantly decrease the carbon footprint of a product. We still have to look deeper into Apple’s claims but here is what the company has shared so far about the Apple Watch Series 9 in terms of sustainability: “Emissions were reduced from the three biggest sources of greenhouse gases — materials, electricity, and transportation. The small amount of emissions remaining are offset with high-quality carbon credits from nature-based projects.” This matters because Apple plans to be carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030 — they refer to this undertaking as “Apple 2030.”

These are the carbon neutral Apple Watch Series 9 case and strap combinations.

These are the carbon neutral Apple Watch Series 9 case and strap combinations.

It’s important to know that not all Apple Watch and Apple Watch strap combinations make for a fully carbon-neutral choice, but any aluminum Apple Watch Series 9 with a new Sport Loop band is carbon neutral, while the new Apple Watch SE (available in 40mm and 44mm aluminum cases) is carbon neutral when paired with a new Sport Loop band. Further initiatives linked to reducing the environmental impact of Apple Watch Series 9 include redesigned product packaging that is smaller and 100% fiber-based (a new logo on the packaging indicates models that are carbon neutral) as well as Apple abandoning leather straps (and also leather iPhone and other product cases) completely.

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Apple Watch Series 9 with Hermes Kilim strap.

Serious luxury watch details in the elastomer Hermès Kilim strap and buckle of the Apple Watch Series 9.

This also means that high-end expensive Apple Watch Hermès straps no longer have a leather option either. Instead, the new Apple Watch Hermès straps draw on the Parisian brand’s history in textiles and craftsmanship with woven, knitted, and hand-braided models, as well as a waterproof molded rubber supplemented by a new watch face called Hermès Radial.

The new FineWoven Apple Watch straps are here to replace leather straps with a smaller environmental impact.

Apple seems to have understood the importance of a leather strap option as something preferred by customers looking for a more elegant and refined look, arguably more suitable to be worn in the office or in more formal settings. To make up for the absence of leather, Apple is introducing FineWoven which in its name already implies that it’s designed to intrigue the customer looking for a leather strap option. Apple presents it as “a luxurious and durable microtwill made of 68 percent post-consumer recycled content that has significantly lower carbon emissions compared to leather.” It has a suede-like feel and is available with the Magnetic Link and Modern Buckle bands.

The rather cool randomized pattern of the new Nike Apple Watch Series 9 straps. Nike produces apparel items with a similar pattern.

Other straps have been updated, as well: The Sport Loop band has been redesigned to include 82 percent recycled yarn and all new Apple Watch Sport Loops are carbon neutral, while the Nike Sport Band now contains 32 percent or more recycled fluoroelastomer, including colorful flakes made from excess bands that create a randomized pattern. The Nike Sport Loop with a space-dye pattern repurposes yarn from previous seasons.

Here’s all you need to know on the availability of the Apple Watch Series 9: The Apple Watch Series 9 starts at $399 in aluminum with GPS and $499 with GPS and cellular while the Apple Watch Series 9 in stainless steel starts at $699 and comes with GPS and cellular. Customers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, the UAE, the U.K., the U.S., and more than 40 other countries and regions can order Apple Watch Series 9 (and Apple Watch SE) already, with availability in stores beginning Friday, September 22. watchOS 10 will be available for Apple Watch Series 4 and later on Monday, September 18, and requires iPhone XS or later running iOS 17. Not all features are available on all devices and in all regions. You can learn more at the brand’s website.

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