Apple Watch and water resistance: a quick guide to proper use and care

By , Sep 27, 2016

Apple Watch water resistance swim

If the original Apple Watch could sustain minor splashes, starting with Series 2, new models now have a water resistance rating of 50 meters, making Apple Watch the perfect companion for swimmers, surfers, or just about anybody who wants to splash around in the pool or in the ocean.

Despite your Apple Watch being completely capable of going in the water, there are still a few things to keep in mind.

Note that this article is about Apple Watch Series 2 and newer only. Please refer to this article should you want to learn about water resistance of the original Apple Watch or Apple Watch Series 1.

The confusion of water resistance ratings

Apple clearly says that Apple Watch Series 2 has a water resistance rating of 50 meters under ISO standard 22810:2010. Yet, immediately after saying that, the company releases its liability by saying Apple Watch Series 2 “may be used for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean. However, Apple Watch Series 2 should not be used for scuba diving, waterskiing, or other activities involving high-velocity water or submersion below shallow depth.

If you wanted to go 60 feet under water with your Apple Watch, then you may think about it twice, because despite that 50 meter rating, your Apple Watch would most likely not be able to withstand the pressure.

This is extremely confusing to me, even after spending a fair share of time researching what that ISO standard 22810:2010 actually means. The best information I could find regarding those confusing water resistance ratings came from Wikipedia: “For example, a watch marked 30 metres water resistant cannot be expected to withstand activity for longer time periods in a swimming pool, let alone continue to function at 30 metres under water. This is because the test is conducted only once using static pressure on a sample of newly manufactured watches.

In short, that 50 meter rating is BS! You’re totally fine surfing, swimming, or playing in the pool with your watch, but don’t even think about going urchin fishing with it.

How to prepare for going in the water with your Apple Watch

Technically, you don’t have anything to do before going in the water. You can just get in the shower or jump in the pool without paying attention to your watch, and it would be perfectly fine.

However, Apple has introduced a new feature on Series 2 models called Water Lock that allows the speaker to eject water that may otherwise get stuck in the speaker hole. This feature can be really useful in making sure that your speaker doesn’t get muffled by stagnating water.

Apple Watch series 2 water lock

This feature has to be manually enabled, and it can be done in one of two ways.

1. You can start a Swimming workout on your Apple Watch. This will automatically lock the screen to avoid water droplets from mimicking taps on your screen while you are in the water. Once you get out of the water, you can turn the Digital Crown clockwise, and the speaker will emit a series of sounds destined to push the water out of the speaker hole. This is quite ingenious.

2. If you do not want to start a Swimming workout, you can always use the Water Lock feature manually by swiping up on your watch face to reveal Control Center and tapping on the icon that looks like a drop of water. When you’re done, you can turn the Digital Crown to unlock the watch and have the speaker eject the water.

Again, you do not have to do that, but this is the best way to go about it.

Rinse it off

Most pools contain chemicals that can be pretty harsh on the materials used in Apple Watch. Likewise, salty water from the ocean can accelerate corrosion of your watch. For these reasons, proper care after going in the water is highly recommended.

The best way to do that is to simply rinse your Apple Watch under fresh water after going in the pool or in the ocean. Personally, I just take a shower with my watch after going surfing and make sure to rinse the watch off profusely to get as much of this salt out of the watch as possible.

Speaking of taking a shower with your watch, Apple recommends “not exposing Apple Watch to soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and perfumes as they can negatively affect water seals and acoustic membranes.” Keep that in mind.

Use good ol’ common sense

When it comes to electronics (or just about everything is life), common sense can go a long way. If you’re not sure whether you should wear your Apple Watch for a specific nautical activity, then do some research, or just don’t wear your watch at all. Better safe than sorry!

It’s also worth noting that most bands don’t fair very well in water. The Sport and Nylon bands would be perfectly fine. However, anything made of leather is definitely a no-go. If you know you’re going to go out swimming, maybe swap your band before jumping in the water.

What other advice to you have?

If you’ve been using your Apple Watch in the water and have specific advice to share, please feel free to do so in the comments section.

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  • waverdr

    Anyone know of any good surfing apps for the watch yet. Maybe similar to how the Ripcurl one works where it maps your length of rides and then sync’s with a app and overlays them on a satellite map of the area?

    • I honestly haven’t looked into. I just know my go-to app, Surfline, doesn’t support Apple Watch. Would be great to find an app with basic surf conditions, tides, and temp. If you find any, do let me know.

  • jw

    On showering, from what I’ve read elsewhere, even a 200-meter Divers watch will gradually lose its water resistance through steam damage.
    Water resistance does not indicate steam or heat resistance.