Are Apple Watches waterproof? Here’s what you need to know

Is it safe to take your Apple Watch back in the water?

Before you dive into the deep end of the pool, or go for a dip in the sea, it’s worth considering the impact on your Apple Watch. After all, the last thing you want to do is ruin an expensive piece of hardware through incorrect usage.  

The good news is most Apple Watch models offer a useful level of water resistance. But because they have different water resistance ratings, it’s worth knowing exactly what your watch can withstand before you start that open water swim.

Scuba diver wearing an Apple Watch Ultra underwaterCredit: Apple

We’ll explain everything you need to know about the differing levels of liquid protection afforded by the various models of Apple Watch.

We’ll also highlight the important dos and don’ts that you need to be aware of, no matter which watch you’re wearing, so you can start enjoying the world of water without worry. 

Water resistance explained

First off, a quick explainer about water resistance. As we mentioned earlier, all Apple Watches offer a degree of water resistance and can therefore all withstand a little bit of moisture. This means you can wear them for exercise, while washing your hands, and you don’t need to worry about being caught in the rain, for example.  

However, water resistance does not make your watch impervious to water. Different Apple Watches have various levels of water resistance, which means some are more effective at keeping water out than others.  

It’s also worth noting that even if a device says it is water resistant to 50 or 100 metres, that doesn’t mean it’s fine to take it that deep. It just means that in a controlled lab environment, the watch managed to cope with the level of pressure you’d find at that depth. 

Additionally, according to Apple, “water-resistance isn’t a permanent condition and can diminish over time”. There are several things that can reduce the water-resistance of your Apple Watch, including the following: 

  • High impact events, such as dropping your Apple Watch, high diving, or it being struck by high-velocity water (such as water-skiing) 
  • Soaps, solvents, perfumes, sun cream, acids, insect repellent and hair dye 
  • Wearing your watch in a sauna or steam room.  

With all that in mind, let’s examine what each model of Apple Watch is capable of. 

What can you do with your Apple Watch?

Your water-related activity options will vary quite considerably, depending on which Apple Watch model adorns your wrist. And as we highlighted earlier, water-resistance tends to become less effective over time.  

The summary version is that the newer the watch, the better the water resistance tends to be. But there are some important distinctions to be aware of:

Apple Watch 1 and Watch Sport

  • If you have one of the earliest models of Apple Watch, including Apple Watch 1 and Apple Watch Sport, the water-resistance rating is IPX7, which translates to being capable of coping with full submersion up to one metre, for 30 minutes. 
  • In other words, this is not a device you’ll want to take swimming. In fact, Apple specifically says that “Apple Watch Series 1 and Apple Watch (1st generation) aren’t suitable for swimming”. They don’t recommend submerging these watches at all, although Tim Cook was rumoured to shower with his Watch.

 Apple Watch 2 and later

  • Apple Watch Series 2 and later (including Apple Watch SE and SE 2) are water resistant up to 50 metres. When brand new, these watches would be fine for swimming, snorkelling, and other low-impact water sports.
  • These watches include a swim tracker within the workout app, which has the useful function of locking the screen so that you don’t accidentally start sending garbled messages as water droplets hit the screen.

 Apple Watch Ultra

  • Finally, the Apple Watch Ultra offers water resistance up to 100 metres. However, the small print states that, “It may be used for recreational scuba diving (with compatible third-party app from the App Store) to 40 metres and high-speed water sports. Apple Watch Ultra should not be used for diving below 40 metres“.
  • This is still far deeper than any other Apple Watch. It has a built-in diving sensor, and supports the Oceanic+ app, that provides GPS tracking, safety features such as a decompression algorithm, and more.
A woman swimming in a pool with the Apple Watch on her wristCredit: Apple

Can you wear an Apple Watch in the shower?

If you have an Apple Watch 2 or newer, then in theory, keeping it on while you have a shower is absolutely fine. However, remember that Apple warns against exposing your watch to soaps, shampoos and conditioners, as these can affect water seals and reduce water resistance. 

In summary: you can, and in all likelihood it will be fine, but you do run the risk of damaging the seals if you get it consistently covered in soap. 

Given the Apple Watch doesn’t have the best battery life in the smartwatch world, it’s a far better idea to use this time to give it a daily top-up charge – you’ll be glad of it if you end up going for a longer run or cycle than expected. 

Don’t forget to check your strap

One more crucial point is to remember which watch strap you are wearing. As Apple reminds us, not all bands are suitable for water use. This applies to the stainless steel and leather bands, which include the likes of the Classic Buckle, Modern Buckle, Leather Loop, Milanese Loop, and Link Bracelet. 

If you’re planning to use your Apple Watch in the water, you’re best using a fabric, nylon or silicon strap. Most third-party watch straps are worth checking out for this reason – there are some great sporty designs out there should you want to make sure your Watch is sweat and water resistant. 

What should I do if my Apple Watch gets wet?

If you get your Apple Watch wet, whether by accident or design, there are a few recommendations worth following to keep your Watch in the best possible condition. 

Start by removing excess water with a non-abrasive lint-free cloth. If you’ve been swimming, rinse your Apple Watch under running warm fresh water to remove any chlorine or salt. Always dry your watch and strap thoroughly afterwards.  

Likewise, if you do happen to get some sunscreen or other unguent on your watch, quickly rinsing it with fresh water will help to remove any chemicals that might damage its water resistance.  

Rotate the digital crown while you are rinsing it, to ensure you get anything that may have worked its way in between the housing and the crown. 

Armed with all this information, you can now judge whether it’s safe to take your Apple Watch for a swim or not. Given most people will have a Watch 2 or later, why not use this confirmation of swimming ability to get in the pool?

Getting active charity Better has a great local pool finder, and you could be starting a new swimming journey in the next day or two – at a time when the pool is less busy to boot.  

Steven Shaw

Written by Steven Shaw he/him

Modified:

Steven is a Staff Writer for Fitness at Exceptional, primarily focusing on fitness tech, and how we can use technology to help us achieve our fitness goals. Prior to joining the team at Saga, Steven was a freelance writer for a variety of outlets, most notably TechRadar.

His degree in Medieval History prepared him less adequately for his career than you might expect, but the years spent working in technology focused retail were much more helpful.

Outside of work, Steven is passionate about health and fitness, and particularly enjoys high-intensity interval training, weight training, and increasingly, spending time recovering. Steven loves reading, films and a wide variety of sports. A particular highlight was watching Viv Richards and Sachin Tendulkar batting together in an exhibition match.

He wishes he could travel more. He can also tell you a lot about the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Carolingians. Most of his non-work time is spent with his young children, who are the living embodiment of high-intensity training.

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