The best smartwatches you can swim with, featuring at least 50-meter (5 ATM) water resistance…
Waterproof smartwatches are still mostly niche products, but that is starting to change with the introduction of more models that are water-resistant to 50-meters and beyond. Most mainstream smartwatches have an Ingress Protection rating of IP68. These smartwatches have been tested to survive submersion in shallow water for a short period of time. The reality is that you should avoid regularly exposing them to water, and you should definitely not swim with them. IP68-rated watches are designed to withstand accidental water exposure and the occasional dunking but they are not intended for regular wear underwater or for water-based activities. If you plan to expose your smartwatch to water regularly or want to swim with it, see the models below with better water protection.
Note: “Waterproof” is used as a descriptive marketing term when it comes to electronics and should not be taken literally (as increasing depth, pressure, and time will eventually overcome most waterproof devices). “Water-resistant” is the more accurate term and commonly used when referring to traditional watches. This list focuses on smartwatches that are at least water-resistant to 50 meters. A 50-meter (or 5 ATM) water resistance rating is suitable for swimming. For activities like surfing or shallow water diving, a watch with 100-meter water-resistance is recommended. Those with active lifestyles who want the best water-resistance currently available should look into the following smartwatch models for 2018.
Samsung Gear Sport Fitness Smartwatch with 50-Meter Water Resistance
The Samsung Gear Sport features 50-meter water resistance, making it the lone Samsung Gear smartwatch (other than the Gear Fit2 Pro fitness band) that is suitable for swimming. As the name implies this smartwatch is designed for fitness with a built-in heart rate monitor, GPS, and a large selection of training and tracking apps available. Along with the 1.2″ Gorilla Glass 3 color touchscreen, a rotating bezel and side buttons make navigation easy. The NFC capability (a feature lacking in most other rugged smartwatches) enables Samsung Pay cashless transactions. Though it’s not a Wear OS by Google smartwatch like you might expect a Samsung to be, the native Tizen OS has thousands of apps available. The Gear Sport is available in black or blue with silicone straps.
Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch with 50-Meter Water-Resistance
Fitbit is widely known for its fitness trackers and recently entered the smartwatch market with the Ionic, a color touchscreen model with a wrist-based heart rate monitor that runs the Fitbit OS. The Ionic has 50-meter water resistance and can track swim workouts with lap counting, duration, and calories burned. As a Fitbit product it has all the multi-sport fitness and all-day tracking features you would expect, including built-in GPS. It also has the ability to store 300 songs and play them through Bluetooth-connected headphones. Other smartwatch features include smartphone notifications for call, text, and calendar, as well as push notifications from smartphone apps. Other non-fitness smartwatch apps are also available.
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Smartwatch with 50-Meter Water-Resistance
Garmin’s new Vivoactive 3 adopts a more stylish round design that makes it more attractive than previous models for all-day wear. Like the other Vivoactive models it is water-resistant to 50 meters and includes swim tracking. Equipped with an optical heart rate monitor and built-in GPS, the Vivoactive 3 is a solid choice for those who are serious about their fitness and training. Features like the well-stocked Connect IQ app store, text message writing, social media updates, and music playback control will also appeal to more mainstream users. The new Garmin Pay feature allows payments to be made with the watch wherever a tap-to-pay card would work. The Vivoactive 3 has impressive battery life of up to 7 days.
Fitbit Versa Smartwatch with 50-Meter Water-Resistance
The Versa is Fitbit’s most recent smartwatch offering and takes some design cues from the Apple Watch, with more rounded and curved edges than the Fitbit Ionic. Like the Ionic, the Versa has 50-meter water resistance and is suitable for swimming. As a more affordable model than the Ionic, the Versa is lacking a few features. The Versa doesn’t have built-in GPS, although you can still use the GPS features if you carry a connected smartphone with you. The Versa also lacks NFC (except in special editions). Also, the Ionic gets slightly better battery life with up to 5 days, while the Versa is rated for about 4+ days. Those who don’t depend on built-in GPS for their fitness tracking may prefer the lower price and more fashionable design of the Versa.
Casio Pro Trek WSD-F20 Smart Outdoor Watch:
Rugged Google Wear OS Smartwatch with GPS & 50-Meter Water-Resistance
The Pro Trek WSD-F20 is the newest model in Casio’s Smart Outdoor Watch line. It is now under the Pro Trek brand, runs Wear OS by Google (formerly known as Android Wear 2.0), and has built-in GPS which the previous WSD-F10 lacked. This gives the WSD-F20 better outdoor capabilities with the ability to use GPS with offline color maps without a connected smartphone. The WSD-F20 is also 0.8mm thinner than the WSD-F10 and has the same rugged MIL-STD-810-compliant environmental resistance. Other features carried over from the previous generation include the dual-layer TFT color and monochrome LCD display, altimeter-barometer-compass sensors, vibration alerts, and microphone.
Update: Casio recently released the lower-priced Pro Trek WSD-F20A which has the same specs with the exception of a resin buckle (versus stainless steel) and non-textured side buttons.
Nixon Mission Wear OS Smartwatch with 100-Meter Water-Resistance
The Nixon Mission is one of the most rugged and water-resistant Wear OS smartwatches. Boasting 100-meter water-resistance, shock resistance, Corning Gorilla Glass, and built-in GPS, the Mission is the ideal smartwatch for outdoor and watersport enthusiasts. With its raised stainless steel bezel and rugged design, the Mission is likely the toughest Wear OS smartwatch on the market as well as the most waterproof. The Mission was specifically designed for activities like surfing and snowboarding and runs the Surfline and Snocountry apps to monitor ocean and mountain conditions. The Mission also has Google Fit activity tracking and access to the Google Play app store. Another unique feature to the Mission is the customization option when ordering direct from Nixon. Buyers can choose from 20 silicon bands and 15 bezels to create their own personalized smartwatch.
Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Series:
Rugged GPS Fitness Smartwatch with 100-Meter Water-Resistance
The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Series includes the latest ruggedized versions of the popular Fenix series of GPS fitness smartwatches. These watches have stainless steel or titanium bezels and are available in three sizes (42, 47, 51 mm) with a variety of lens and strap options. They feature 10 ATM (100-meter) water resistance, superior battery life (up to 7, 12, or 20 days in smartwatch mode depending on the model), and are capable of storing up to 500 songs. They have all the GPS and fitness features expected from a high-end Garmin GPS smartwatch, including a wrist-based heart rate monitor. While the advanced GPS mapping and fitness tracking features may be overkill for some, the Fenix 5 Plus Series is recommended for serious outdoor athletes and adventures. Other features like smart notifications, Garmin Pay, and the many non-fitness apps available from the Connect IQ store may appeal to more casual users.
Apple Watch Series 2 and Series 3 with 50-Meter Water-Resistance
Proper water-resistance is becoming mainstream as Apple revealed that the new Apple Watch Series 2 has a “swimproof” shell that is water-resistant to 50 meters. As is the case with other 50-meter water-resistant watches, Apple says it can be used for shallow water activities such as swimming in a pool or the ocean, but should not be used in activities involving high-velocity water or deep submersion such as scuba diving or water-skiing.
The Apple Watch Series 2 retains the same rectangular shape as before and will also have a built-in GPS chip for improved outdoor and fitness features. The Apple Watch Series 2 has a new dual-core processor and a new GPU which will provide double the performance of the original Apple Watch. There is also now an Apple Watch Series 1 with the upgraded CPU and GPU but without the waterproofing and GPS.
As the original Apple Watch was the leading smartwatch on the market and the Series 2 will most likely take its place, we expect other flagship smartwatches to follow suit with more advanced water-resistance features in the future.
Update: Apple released the Apple Watch Series 3 which also has 50-meter water resistance. New additions for the Series 3 include a more powerful and battery-efficient S3 processor, a barometric altimeter to measure air pressure and altitude, and a cellular LTE-enabled e-SIM option that can use the same phone number as your iPhone and provides connectivity without a tethered phone.
Garmin Vivoactive HR: New Design with Heart Rate Monitor and 50-Meter Water-Resistance
The Garmin Vivoactive HR has the same features as the original GPS-equipped Vivoactive with a more streamlined design that resembles a large fitness band more than a typical smartwatch. It also has a wrist-based heart rate monitor built in to provide additional fitness tracking data. The Vivoactive HR features 50-meter water-resistance like the original and also adds an altimeter, barometer, and compass sensor for outdoor activities. The Vivoactive HR is available in two sizes and fits wrists from 5.39″ to 8.86″. Read more about it here.
Garmin Fenix 3: Advanced Fitness GPS Smartwatch with 100-Meter Water-Resistance
The Fenix 3 is Garmin’s flagship multi-sport and outdoor GPS smartwatch. It is water-resistant to 100 meters with a 218 x 218 1.2” color screen. With its advanced tracking metrics and training features for running, cycling, and swimming, some may consider the Fenix 3 to be more of a hardcore fitness watch than an everyday smartwatch. It works with Garmin accessories like heart rate monitors and bicycle speed and cadence sensors to optimize training and recovery. It has smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth for music playback control and smart notifications for calls, emails, texts, and social media. Like the Vivoactive it also has a daily activity tracker with a step counter. Outdoor features include navigation, altimeter/baromter/compass sensors, and GLONASS support for superior GPS reception. Additional apps are available via the Connect IQ appstore.
The Garmin Fenix 3 is pricey and non-athletes may not take advantage of its full potential, but it is one of the most rugged smartwatches currently available. It is also available with a sapphire crystal (Fenix 3 Sapphire) and a wrist-based heart rate monitor (Fenix 3 HR). Read more about the Fenix 3 in our Best Garmin GPS Watches feature.
Suunto Ambit3 Line:
Advanced Fitness GPS Smartwatches with 50-meter and 100-Meter Water-Resistance
The Ambit3 line is Suunto’s first Bluetooth Smart compatible watch line and is designed for fitness tracking and outdoor use. Like the Fenix 3 the Ambit3 is a GPS watch with advanced tracking and training features for running, cycling, and swimming. The Ambit3 Sport and Ambit3 Run are water-resistant to 50 meters and the Ambit3 Peak and Ambit3 Vertical are water-resistant to 100 meters.
The Ambit3 Peak and Vertical models have a steel bezel while the Sport is steel and polyamide and the Run is polyamide. The Ambit3 line has GPS reception for distance measuring, outdoor trekking, and navigation, and the watch also has GPS timekeeping. The Ambit3 has an altimeter (GPS-based for Sport and Run models), barometer on the Peak and Vertical models, and digital compass. Bluetooth smartphone connectivity along with the Suunto Movescount App provide phone notifications, the ability to use the phone as a secondary display, and photos with watch data overlays. Additional Suunto Apps are available to download.
The Ambit3 has a 128 x 128 monochrome display with an impressive battery life of up to 14 days in time mode (30 for Ambit3 Peak). Those who want the toughest model and the most features for outdoor use should go with the Ambit3 Peak or Vertical models. The Peak is heavier (89g versus 74g) but has longer battery life (30 days in time mode versus 14). The Vertical is the latest model and adds vibration alert, GLONASS support, and some additional software features (show current versus route elevation, ascent graphs, 3D distance).
Suunto Ambit3 watches are available in a variety of colors and also available with sapphire crystals for better scratch-resistance.