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.
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.
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 can choose from 20 silicon bands and 15 bezels to create their own personalized smartwatch.
Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire:
Rugged GPS Fitness Smartwatch with 100-Meter Water-Resistance
The Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire is the latest ruggedized version of the popular Fenix series of GPS fitness smartwatches. It features 100-meter water resistance, a scratch-resistant sapphire lens, a PVD-coated stainless steel bezel and buttons, and a reinforced housing. It is also the first Fenix watch with full-color TOPO U.S. mapping and has all the GPS and fitness features expected from a high-end Garmin GPS smartwatch, including a wrist-based heart rate monitor. It is available in silicone and metal band versions, with the metal band version including a swappable silicone band. While the advanced GPS and fitness tracking features may not appeal to the casual user, the Fenix 5X Sapphire is recommended for serious outdoor athletes and adventurers.
Casio Pro Trek WSD-F20 Smart Outdoor Watch:
Rugged Android Wear 2.0 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 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 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.
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 50-meter 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.
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: 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.
With the recent release of the Vivoactive 3, the original Vivoactive now now available with a reduced price.
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.