Home / Tech / How to tell if your Apple Watch is waterproof or water-resistant, and to what extent

How to tell if your Apple Watch is waterproof or water-resistant, and to what extent

Apple Watch

  • All Apple Watch models are varying degrees of water-resistant, but none are waterproof.
  • This means that, with an undamaged Apple Watch Series 2 to 4, you can use it when swimming at a depth of up to 50 meters, and that getting it wet on a rainy day is also fine.
  • But Apple does not recommend wearing any Apple Watch during certain activities, like scuba diving and waterskiing.
  • Here’s how to tell the water-resistance rating of your Apple Watch, along with how to properly clean it and use it while swimming. 

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 looked into the matter much before getting into a kayak and paddling away, vaguely knowing my device was “water-resistant” (it did have workout options for swimming, after all) but not much else.

Apple Watches are varying degrees of water-resistant

Apple Watch Series 4

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, and 4 (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 does not recommend submerging your Apple Watch or Series 1 watches under water, 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, and 4) is okay in theory, you’ll probably want to take off your Apple Watch during this particular activity 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 cannot 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 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

apple watch band

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 the 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. Do not use soap or other cleaning products to clean Apple Watch.

6. Dry the front, back, and sides of your Apple Watch with a non-abrasive, lint-free cloth.

More cleaning tips, from cleaning the Digital Crown to the band, can be found on this Apple Support page.

How to activate Water Lock

The Water Lock feature locks an Apple Watch’s screen to avoid accidental taps during swimming and other water-based activities. 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.

Apple Watch water resistance

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.

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech: 

  • How to turn your Apple Watch on and off, and force-restart it for troubleshooting

  • How to add and remove apps on your Apple Watch

  • How to change the activity goals on your Apple Watch

  • How to change the band on your Apple Watch

SEE ALSO: The best smartwatch you can buy

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