Your Apple Watch is water-resistant, not waterproof — here’s what that means, and how you can use your Watch in the water
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- No Apple Watch version is waterproof — however, they are all water-resistant, which is slightly different.
- If you have an Apple Watch2, 3, 4, or 5, you can take your watch as deep as 50 feet underwater without worrying about any damage. You should avoid submerging a Series 1 watch, but don’t worry about wearing it in the rain.
- However, each Apple Watch still comes with a Water Lock app, which Apple recommends you use before taking your Watch into the water.
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As someone who’s experienced the panic of having to quickly dry off an iPhone or MacBook after an accidental liquid spill (a potentially expensive mistake), I was a bit apprehensive when first exposing my Apple Watch Series 3 to water.
In particular, this was because I hadn’t done any research before getting into a kayak and paddling away, vaguely knowing my Watch was “water-resistant” (it did have workout options for swimming, after all) but not much else.
So you don’t have to worry like I did, here’s everything you need to know about your Apple Watch and water, including what “water-resistant” means, how to clean it, and how to use the useful Water Lock app.
Check out the products mentioned in this article:
Apple Watch Series 5 (From $399 at Best Buy)
Apple Watch Series 4 (From $379 at Best Buy)
Apple Watch Series 3 (From $199.99 at Best Buy)
Apple Watch Series 2 (Renewed) (From $173.86)
Apple Watches are varying degrees of water-resistant
All models of Apple Watch are indeed water-resistant, but not waterproof (as Apple is careful to distinguish).
In technical terms, the original Apple Watch and Series 1 have a water resistance rating of IPX7 under IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) standard 60529, and Series 2, 3, 4, and 5 (the latest model) have a water resistance rating of up to 50 meters of depth under ISO standard 22810:2010.
In short, wearing your Apple Watch while exercising (and thus exposing it to sweat) is okay, wearing it on a rainy day is okay, and even swimming with it is okay.
But wearing it while scuba diving or water skiing (submerging the watch below a shallow depth or exposing it to high velocity water) is not.
If you’re still wearing a 1st generation Apple Watch or Series 1, however, you need to be a bit more careful. Apple doesn’t recommend submerging your Apple Watch or Series 1 watches underwater, though both models are splash- and water-resistant.
You probably shouldn’t shower with your Apple Watch
While showering with your Apple Watch (Series 2, 3, 4, and 5) is okay in theory, you’ll still probably want to take off your Apple Watch because exposure to soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and perfumes can affect the efficacy of water seals and acoustic membranes (leading to muffled speaker sounds).
The chemicals in shampoo and soap can also reduce your Apple Watch’s water resistance as a whole.
Water resistance is a feature that can irreversibly fade over time
Apple notes that “water resistance isn’t a permanent condition and may diminish over time,” adding that the Apple Watch can’t be rechecked or re-sealed for water resistance. The company lists a number of activities that can affect water resistance properties and should therefore be avoided.
The list includes dropping your Apple Watch “or subjecting it to other impacts” (ouch), wearing it in a sauna or steam room, and exposure to soap (or soapy water), perfume, solvents, detergent, acids (or acidic foods), insect repellent, lotions, sunscreen, oil, and hair dye.
It’s important to note that not all bands are water-resistant, like those made with stainless steel and leather. If you’re planning on swimming or getting your Apple Watch wet, it’d be wise to switch out the band to something more water-friendly.
How to clean your Apple Watch
Cleaning your Apple Watch is not only important for maintaining the quality of the product, it also helps to avoid skin irritation. Here’s how it’s done, according to Apple:
1. Turn off your Apple Watch. Remove it from its charger, if connected.
2.If you’re using a band that isn’t water-resistant, remove it.
3. Wipe the Watch clean using a non-abrasive, lint free cloth that’s lightly dampened with fresh water.
4. Alternatively, hold the Watch under a lightly running tap of warm fresh water for 10 to 15 seconds.
5. Don’t use soap or other cleaning products to clean your Apple Watch.
6. Dry the front, back, and sides of your Apple Watch with a non-abrasive, lint-free cloth.
For more detailed information on how to clean every part of your Apple Watch, check out our article, “How to properly clean your Apple Watch, including its band and Digital Crown.”
How to activate Water Lock
The Water Lock feature, available on the Apple Watch 2, 3, 4, and 5, locks an Apple Watch’s screen to avoid accidental taps during swimming and other water-based activities. It also cleans out your Watch’s speakers once your done, which is great if you’re going to submerge your Watch at all.
There are two ways to activate this feature:
1. Start a swimming workout. Both Pool Swim and Open Water Swim workouts will automatically activate the Water Lock feature. Simply open the Workout app and tap Pool Swim or Open Water swim to begin.
2. Manually activate Water Lock by swiping up on the Watch face and tapping the water droplet icon. Upon activating the Water Lock feature, a blue water droplet will appear in the center of the Watch face.
And once you’re done, here’s how to deactivate it:
1. After a swimming workout, press the Digital Crown and side button at the same time. This will pause the workout. Turn the Digital Crown to unlock the screen. Then, swipe right and tap the X to end the workout.
2. If you manually activated Water Lock, simply turn the Digital Crown until the blue teardrop fills the circular icon. Once unlocked, Apple Watch will make a series of sounds that are intended to clear water from the Watch’s speakers. You might even feel the water being ejected from your speakers — this is entirely normal.
Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:
‘How much is the Apple Watch Series 5?’: A breakdown of each model’s price and new features
How to change the band on your Apple Watch and customize it to match your style
A beginner’s guide to the Apple Watch: How to use its buttons and gestures, start workouts, and more
How to use AirPods and pair them with almost any phone or device
How to share your Apple Watch Activity and send messages to friends during your workout