Apple’s official rating for the Apple Watch is IPX7 which means it is highly water resistant and can be submerged for short periods of time. One iOS developer and Apple Watch user, Craig Hockenberry, has put this rating to the test by swimming in the ocean with his Apple Watch for extended periods of time. Conditions don’t get much more grueling than that with debris, sand, salt, and rocking waves added to the stress of the watch being pulled through the water while swimming. Amazingly, he found that the Apple Watch was entirely undamaged by the process though there were some technical hiccups in terms of the watch functioning.
When underwater, the screen would reportedly register touch inputs or not function at all. This would be expected given how conductive salt water is and the water being entirely surrounded. This makes it less than ideal for monitoring ocean workouts but it is still entirely usable and more importantly, there is no discernible damage to the watch. Hockenberry recommends washing the Apple Watch after using it in the ocean or other unusual environments which is a great suggestion given that salt could crystallize and damage the surface.
The best thing about these experiments is that they prove how robust the waterproofing on the Apple Watch really is. If you had any doubts about washing your hands, splashing, brief swims in a pool, or even showering with the watch, it’s pretty safe to say that the Apple Watch should hold up just fine. It’s nice to know that Apple was conservative with their rating and the watch is better with water than advertised. Of course that doesn’t mean you should be reckless with it. It’s still prone to physical damage if you scrape or hit it on something, so don’t get too careless. Otherwise, feel free to go take a dip with your Apple Watch.