Apple Watch and water: what you need to know

Apple Watch (lifestyle 001)

There seems to be a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, and maybe a bit of misinformation when it comes to the water resistance aspect of Apple Watch. Apple itself hasn’t been very helpful as the company has been providing contradicting information when explaining what you can and cannot do with your watch. Add those misleading videos of guys jumping in the pool with their Apple Watch, and you can easily understand why one might be puzzled at whether or not it is acceptable to dunk Apple Watch in water. In this post, we’ll try to put an end to the speculation about Apple Watch and water.

Note this article was written for the original Apple Watch. We have since then published updated information relating to Apple Watch Series 2.

Is Apple Watch waterproof?

Listed as a footnote on the Apple Watch Health & Fitness section on the company’s website, we learn that Apple Watch is not waterproof, but is indeed water resistant. If both terms seem very similar, one should in fact not be misunderstood for the other.

Apple Watch is splash and water resistant but not waterproof. You can, for example, wear and use Apple Watch during exercise, in the rain, and while washing your hands, but submerging Apple Watch is not recommended. Apple Watch has a water resistance rating of IPX7 under IEC standard 60529. The leather bands are not water resistant.

If Apple wasn’t quite clear in the footnote shared above, the company wasn’t much clearer in its Apple Watch Guide:

Submerging Apple Watch is not recommended. Apple Watch has a water resistance rating of IPX7 under IEC standard 60529. The leather bands are not water resistant. Water resistance is not a permanent condition and Apple Watch cannot be rechecked or resealed for water resistance.

They keywords here seem to be “not recommended,” which suggests it is acceptable, yet not endorsed.

What is IPX7?

IPX7 is an international standard which technically means the device can withstands incidental exposure to water of up to 1 meter (about 3 feet) for up to 30 minutes. With that said, any immersion of more than 1 meter, regardless of the duration, or any immersion of more than 30 minutes, regardless of depth, can affect the water resistance of the device, even though it might not be visible immediately.

IPX7 is also different from other ratings that may allow for pressurized water resistance. The best example of pressurized water is the stream of water that comes out of your shower head. This being said, based on the IPX7 rating, taking a shower with Apple Watch is not recommended.

But Tim Cook said he showers with his Apple Watch, didn’t he?

There was a report coming from reputable Apple blog suggesting that Tim Cook mentioned during an official visit to a company store in Germany that he showers with his Apple Watch.

Although iGen is a very trustworthy source, there has been no actual backing of what Tim Cook reportedly said. For what it’s worth, we should all take this report with a grain of salt, or just completely dismiss it.

Besides, as noted above, not only Apple officially says you should avoid showering with your watch, but its water resistance rating of IPX7 makes it clear that showering with it is not a suitable activity. My advice? Don’t shower with it.

What about these videos of guys jumping in the pool with Apple Watch?

This is another point of contention that needs to be addressed. The key notion to understand is water resistance.

Water resistance is not a one time thing. Because a device is water resistant today doesn’t mean it will be water resistant tomorrow. As Apple notes, “water resistance is not a permanent condition and Apple Watch cannot be rechecked or resealed for water resistance.” In this regard, special attention must be given to ensure that you take good care of your device in the long term. Following Apple’s guidelines is a start.

All those videos showing guys jumping in the pool or spending the day at the water park are fun to watch, and although Apple Watch always comes out intact, it would be foolish to believe the water resistance seal has been left untouched.

It can’t be stressed enough that there will be long term negative effects to whatever you do with your Apple Watch when it comes to water if you don’t stay within the limits of the IPX7 rating.

What about bands?

Once again, Apple isn’t very explicit here, as the only thing the company says in this regard is that leather bands are not water resistant. So what does that mean?

It probably means that you should avoid putting your leather band in contact with water. I’d assume that working out, thus sweating on a leather band, will leave stains on it in the short term, and damage it in the medium to long term.

The fluoroelastomer bands and link bracelets should be totally fine with water though.

Can you ______ with Apple Watch?

  • Can you put Apple Watch under water for long periods of time?
  • Can you swim with Apple Watch?
  • Can you bathe with Apple Watch?
  • Can you shower with Apple Watch?
  • Can you surf with Apple Watch?

Apple is once again not very clear about all this as it says on its website that these activities should be avoided. It doesn’t say you shouldn’t though. In its user guide, the company specifically notes that exposure to the following substances should be minimized as well: “soap, detergent, acids or acidic foods, and any liquids other than fresh water, such as salt water, soapy water, pool water, perfume, insect repellent, lotions, sunscreen, oil, adhesive remover, hair dye, or solvents.”

This is very confusing because IPX7 rating says you can’t shower with Apple Watch, yet Apple suggests you can although you should avoid it. On top of that, the company says soapy water should be avoided as well. Confusing indeed!

Our final advice

When it comes to water, I personally don’t believe we should try to interpret what Apple suggests.

Is Apple Watch waterproof? No, it is not. Apple Watch is water resistant and that’s a big difference. It means extra care must be taken to avoid contact with water, besides the occasional splash while washing your hands, or when sweating too much.

After reading much about IPX7 rating, I came to the conclusion that I will not shower with my Apple Watch anymore, and I will certainly not take it for a swim in the pool or for a surf session in the Pacific ocean. Instead, I will limit my water activities with Apple Watch to what IPX7 suggests (no deeper than one meter, and no longer than 30 minutes).

Apple doesn’t give clear yes/no answers about what you can or cannot do with your Apple Watch, but do you really want to risk damaging the seals that make your device water resistant? Probably not.

My final advice? Keep that IPX7 rating in mind! Avoid contact with water, and you will be fine. As Apple suggests, sweating on it, or washing your hands with it is acceptable, but nothing more than that. Of course, this is not an ideal situation, but this is the best way to guarantee your Apple Watch will function past the one-year warranty coverage that comes with it.

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