Smartwatch Water Resistance Ratings

Smartwatches come with water resistance ratings. These water ratings help you know about the essential characteristics of the smartwatch’s water resistance or water proof abilities. In most cases, we do not pay heed to the smartwatch’s water resistance rating. Most people end up asking questions about swimming at a later point of time.

It is a fair assumption that most smartwatches can be used for swimming. Unfortunately, that is not the case. For swimming, you need to ensure that the water resistance of ratings ensures good water resistance or water proof capability on the watch. At the same time, the smartwatch needs to withstand pressure posed by water when you are under the water surface.

Below, we look at the main water resistance ratings from the standpoint of a smartwatch.

IP68 Rating

IP68 rating is an Ingress-Protection rating. Ingress Protection indicates the ability of the smartwatch to protect against ingress or entry of a foreign substance into the internal body or compact unit of the watch.

IP68 contains two numbers, 6 and 8. The first number 6 indicates resistance to dust. Dust protection can have a value between 0 to 6. 6 implies maximum ingress protection to dust. That is akin to saying that the smartwatch is dust resistant.

The second number contains water resistance rating. Water rating can be issued between numbers 0 to 8. 0 implies no water resistance and 8 means that the smartwatch with water resistance of 8 has adequate protection against ingress of water into the watch body.

Therefore, an IP68 rating means that smartwatch is dust resistant and water resistant. In terms of water resistance, you can wear an IP68 smartwatch between 1 to 3 meters below water surface level.

However, the key thing is that an IP68 watch is not water proof. It is water resistant. The resistance is feeble. If you expose your IP68 watch to a stream of gushing water, there is a high likelihood of the water seal giving way. This, eventually, leads to water damage to the watch. As a consequence, we are of the opinion that an IP68 watch is not fit for swimming, diving or showering. Unless, the IP68 rating is combined with one of the ATM ratings shared below. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is IP68 rated and 5 ATM rated. So, it is water resistant on the surface and can sustain a pressure that is exerted at depths of 50 meters below the water surface level.

5 ATM Water Rating

Most contemporary watches carry a 5 ATM water rating. 5 ATM is equivalent to saying 5 Atmospheres of pressure. 5 ATM rating is also considered a ‘SWIM‘ rating for the watch. For the uninitiated, ‘Atmosphere’ is a unit of pressure. So, what does a 5 ATM watch mean in terms of water resistance? A 5 ATM watch means that your smartwatch can sustain a pressure that is equivalent to 5 Atmospheres or 5 bars. Such a pressure of 5 Atmospheres is exerted at a depth of 50 meters or 165 feet below the water surface level.

What this means is that you can wear a 5 ATM rated watch up to a depth of 50 meters or 165 feet below water surface level for brief periods of water exposure. Such brief periods of exposure could be as low as 5 minutes. In most cases, you may not use a 5 ATM watch beyond 30 minutes at the depths of 50 meters below the water surface level.

But, most swimmers swim at higher water levels. Pool swimming would seldom go under 5 meters anyways. This, therefore, implies that a 5 ATM smartwatch is fine for wearing during swimming in the pool. Most budget Garmin smartwatches come with 5 ATM water ratings. These include Venu Sq, Venu Sq 2, Vivoactive 4 and the Venu 2 Plus series of smartwatches. On a similar note, an Apple Watch 7 carries a water resistance rating of 5 ATM. Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and the Watch 5 Pro also carry a 5 ATM water rating.

A 5 ATM watch can be used while showering. But, these watches must not be used while scuba diving, deep water activities and snorkeling. There is a high risk of the water seal being compromised, leading to water induced damage to the watch’s internal unit.

10 ATM Watch

10 ATM watch has a much improved pressure handling capacity. A 10 ATM watch can sustain a pressure of 10 Atmospheres. A pressure of 10 Atmospheres exists at depths of 100 meters or 330 feet below the water surface level. That depth limit is quite deep into the water body. Therefore, a 10 ATM watch is fine for pool swimming, open water swimming and diving. With diving, you need to be sure that the water body is not too deep.

10 ATM watches should not be used for scuba diving or deep water sports. This is because the depths can cause instant pressure on the watch body and break the water seal of the smartwatch.

Some examples of the 10 ATM watches are the Garmin Fenix 7 smartwatch, Garmin Epix 2 smartwatches and the Forerunner 955 series fitness watches.

DIVE Rating

Dive rating is equivalent to 100 ATM water rating. A water rating of 100 ATM means that the watch can sustain pressure of 100 Atmospheres. Such levels of pressure are seen at depths of 1000 meters or 3300 feet below the water surface level. The limits come with time based exposure warnings from different manufactures. It is safe to assume that you can use a 100 ATM watch at 100 meters under water for brief periods only. Extended use of the watch at those depths have a high risk of posing damage to the water seal. Water seal on the watch protects the watch against water entering the inside unit of the smartwatch.

DIVE rated or 100 ATM rated watches are expensive. These watches can be used while scuba diving, snorkeling or deep water activities. Some examples of the DIVE rated watches would include the Garmin Descent series smartwatches.

Summary

A smartwatch’s water rating must be considered before its intended use for water activities and sports.

  • People looking to swim in the indoor pool or shallow water pool may choose a SWIM rated or 5 ATM rated smartwatch.
  • For swimming, snorkeling, diving and high speed water sports, you should consider a 10 ATM watch.
  • For scuba diving, please consider a DIVE rated smartwatch.
  • IP68 rating by itself can be considered a basic water resistance rating. You can swim at 3 meters under water surface for a maximum period of 3 minutes. For practical reasons, IP68 rating for a smartwatch is not a very sound basis for being used for swimming.

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