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Wearable Tech

Is your Apple Watch waterproof? Sort of

Because our desire to always be connected knows no limits.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Devices of all sorts are touting water resistance or waterproofing as a selling point. From more recent iPhones to the Apple Watch, using our gadgets in the bath or at the pool is becoming more and more common.

But trying to figure out exactly what you can and can't do with your Apple Watch is important. 

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The not so water resistant models

The first-generation Apple Watch -- sometimes referred to as Series 0 -- and the second-generation Apple Watch, the Series 1, aren't really made to handle more than the occasional splash. Apple does not recommend submerging either model at all, as the speaker and microphone can get damaged.

If you do go for a dip with these earlier Apple Watch models, you'll need to take the watch off and place it on its side with the speaker facing down. This will allow any water inside the cavity to drain out. Do not use a can of forced air, or any other tool, to remove the water as you can cause damage.

Models designed for swimming

The Series 2, Series 3 and Series 4 Apple Watch models are specifically designed for swimming. Specifically, the models have an ISO rating of 22810:2010. That means they're designed to withstand water at up to 50 meters (164 feet) of depth.

Even with that rating, Apple doesn't recommend wearing the watch when scuba diving or water skiing -- basically anything that can cause water to be forced into ports of the watch at high speed or high depths.

Wearing the watch in fresh or ocean water is fine, just remember to rinse off your watch with fresh water (from a faucet) after swimming in the ocean to remove any salt.

Water lock

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When swimming, get into the habit of activating Water Lock on the Apple Watch. The feature prevents water from activating the touchscreen of your watch.

Starting a Pool Swim or Open Water Swim exercise activity automatically enables Water Lock. Otherwise, you can activate Water Lock in Control Center (swipe up on the watch face) and tap on the water icon.

To disable Water Lock you'll need to turn the Digital Crown on your watch until you begin to hear a series of beeps. The noise emitted from the speaker is used to eject any water inside the cavity.

Better safe than sorry

Even though the Series 2, Series 3 and Series 4 watches are designed to withstand fresh water, it's a good idea not to wear yours in the shower. Not only can a shower put out high-velocity water, but Apple says the chemicals in shampoos and soaps can deteriorate the watch's water resistance.

Other chemicals to avoid include perfume, bug repellent, lotion, sunscreen, hair dye and oil. If you do get some on your watch, rinse it off with fresh water.

Avoid wearing your watch in a sauna or steam room, as the heat can also impact the longevity of its water resistance.

Originally published July 5.
Update, Dec. 17: Added details about Apple Watch Series 4.

Apple Watch Series 4 review: Bigger, faster and even more health conscious.

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Apple Watch Series 4 GPS (40mm silver aluminum case, white sport band)
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