Water Resistance: Apple Series 6 Dive Watch?

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Apple Watch: how much water resistance is enough

As someone who’s called TOD on the dive watch, I may not be the best person to reveal the Apple Watch Series 6’s increased water resistance. But here we are. And here’s where Apple started: Series 2 through 5 are water resistant to . . .

5 ATM (atmospheres). For clarity’s sake, call it 50m/100 ft. (watchmakers round the number down from 164.04ft.). That may seem like a lot – the average swimming pool is eight feet deep. It’s not.

A watch’s water resistance rating is not about “survivable” water depth. It indicates the amount of atmospheric pressure (ATM) your watch can withstand. The pressure increases as you go underwater, but also as you go through water. The ATM increases as you swim, especially if you dive in.

Jaeger leCoultre Master Control Date - 5ATM water resistance

The current Apple Watch has the same water resistance rating as the Jaeger leCoultre Master Date. Both the Apple Watch and the JLC are safe against sweat, hand-washing and rainfall. Most watch manufacturers do not recommend swimming with a watch that’s water resistant to 5 ATM.

Apple isn’t one of them. “Apple Watch Series 2 and newer may be used for shallow water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean,” support.apple.com assures owners.

Acidic food ding Apple Watch's water resistance. Seriously.

And then Apple lists all the ways users can screw that up: wearing the watch in a sauna or dropping it; exposing it to soap, perfume, solvents, detergent, acidic foods, insect repellent, lotions, sunscreen, oil or hair dye.

Once they’ve discharged their legal warning, Apple encourages Apple Watch owners to take their wrist-borne computer for a swim.

When you start a swimming workout, your Apple Watch automatically locks the screen with Water Lock to avoid accidental taps. When you’re done, turn the Digital Crown to unlock the screen and clear any water from your Apple Watch. You hear sounds and may feel some water on your wrist.

Listen to the sound of this: the Apple Watch is not the water resistant smart watch you’re looking for.

Camo G-SHOCK in the wild

Which is why millions of people buy a Casio G-SHOCK, water resistant to 200m/660 ft. You can wear a G-SHOCK playing water polo, diving for dimes, engaging in impact watersports (e.g., waterskiing, board diving) or recreational scuba (down to 60 ft.).

Yema Navygraf (courtesy thetruthboutwatches.com)

Dive watch aficionados also shun the Apple Watch. The majority opt for bezel-clad timepieces rated between 200m/650ft and 500m/1640 ft. (e.g. the Yema Navygraf).

Once you hit 500m and up/down, a watch is good for all aquatic activities and happy to accompany its owner during serious scuba (any dive deeper than 18m/60ft).

Rolex Submariner - 500m water resistance

The Apple Watch will never be a Rolex Submariner. But I reckon Apple will increase the Series 6’s water resistance to 50m/165ft. That would bring the Apple Watch in line with every Fitbit save the Ace, making it perfectly safe for swimming laps and eating acidic food.

If Apple could make the Series 6 water resistant to 100m/330 ft. – rendering it safe for impact water sports and showering – the watch would find a whole new group of friends. If Apple somehow got the Apple Watch to a 200m water resistance rating, it would make a huge splash.

1932 Rolex ad

That’s the crucial point: marketing. Not practicality.

Lest we forget, water resistance is what made Rolex internationally famous (1932 ad above). The greater the increase in the Apple Watch’s water resistance, the more people will view Cupertino’s timekeeper as less of a computer and more of a, well, watch.

Could we someday see an Apple Watch dive watch? Count on it. Meanwhile, Coronageddon looks set to delay the Apple Watch Series 6. When it eventually arrives, sales will go swimmingly, helped in some measure by a more water resistant case and crown.

3 COMMENTS

  1. My only question is why would you think the way Apple rated the water resistance of an Apple Watch was at all related to the way the watch makers rate their water resistance.

    Apple is an engineering company and the way you describe how the watch company’s if very different than we would do it the aerospace engineering world.

    • Apple sells the Apple Watch as a watch. The company is familiar with the standard watch industry verbiage. 5 ATM is a commonly accepted scientific measurement. Hence it’s safe to assume that they were making a declaration of the Apple Watch’s real world capabilities, water lock or not.

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