Waterproof smartwatches are still mostly niche products, but that is starting to change with the introduction of smartwatches that are water-resistant to 50-meters and beyond. Most 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 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.
“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 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 2016.
Nixon Mission Android Wear Smartwatch with 100-Meter Water-Resistance
The Nixon Mission is currently the top rugged Android Wear smartwatch. Boasting class-leading 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 Android Wear smartwatch 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 will be able to choose from 20 silicon bands and 15 bezels to create their own personalized smartwatch.
Casio WSD-F10 Smart Outdoor Watch:
Rugged Android Wear Smartwatch with 50-Meter Water-Resistance
The WSD-F10 Smart Outdoor Watch is Casio’s first proper smartwatch and was one of the most talked-about products at CES 2016. According to Casio the WSD-F10 is the first smartwatch with a built-in microphone to feature 50-meter water-resistance. The WSD-F10 is also compliant with ten MIL-STD-810G stress tests and is resistant to shock and vibration. The WSD-F10 is powered by Android Wear and has a unique dual-layer display with a color 320×300 1.32″ touchscreen and a battery-saving monochrome time mode LCD. The watch is designed for outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and fishing. It is also equipped with environmental sensors including an altimeter, barometer, and compass. While Casio does not mention swimming, we assume the watch can handle it based on the rating and the excellent reputation of Casio’s product testing and other water-resistant watches.
At 61.7 × 56.4 × 15.7 mm, the WSD-F10 is a bit large for daily use, though if kept in monochrome time mode the battery can last over a month. With its unique position as a rugged Android Wear smartwatch, the WSD-F10 is one of the more interesting new releases. It is available in black, green, orange, and red. Read more about the WSD-F10 at G-Central.com.
Pebble Classic and Pebble Steel: Everyday Smartwatch with 50-Meter Water-Resistance
The Pebble Classic may be the best waterproof smartwatch for first-time buyers considering its low price and superior battery life. Is is water-resistant to 50 meters and is advertised by Pebble as pool-friendly. The always-on e-paper display with LED backlight is power-efficient and can go up to 7 days on a single charge. Smart features include music control, smartphone notifications, activity and fitness tracking, and the ability to download apps from the Pebble appstore. The Pebble Classic is available in black, white, or red with a silicone band.
The Pebble Steel has the same features but offers a more formal look with a PVD-coated stainless steel bezel in brushed stainless or matte black finishes with leather or metal bands. For waterproofing go with the metal band as the leather band is not water-resistant. The Pebble Steel also has a 2.5D scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass screen.
Apple Watch Series 2 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.
Garmin Vivoactive: Fitness GPS Smartwatch with 50-Meter Water-Resistance
The Garmin Vivoactive is Garmin’s most accessible GPS watch and a good entry-level choice. It is 50-meter water-resistant and has a bright 205 x 148 color touchscreen that is viewable in sunlight. It is also very slim and measures 43.8 x 38.5 x 8.0 mm. The Vivoactive is designed for multi-sport fitness tracking (done independently without a smartphone) and outdoor use. It has built-in apps for running, walking, biking, swimming, and golf. It also has activity tracking to count your steps when you’re not working out. Connect a smartphone with Bluetooth for caller ID alerts, full text messages, email alerts, and social media notifications. The Vivoactive can also control control music playback, locate your phone, and let friends track your activity. The battery lasts up to 3 weeks in watch mode and up to 10 hours with GPS on.
The Vivoactive is attractively priced, full-featured, and properly water-resistant. It is a sleek-looking watch but has a less rugged build than the other models featured here.
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.