What to do when your Apple Watch gets wet

Surprisingly, "Run in circles while screaming" is not one of the recommendations.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

"Apple Watch is water resistant but not waterproof."

That's the official word from Apple (well, Apple's user guide) when it comes to liquid and your very expensive timepiece. But what does that really mean, and what should you do if a splash becomes a dunk?

For starters, remember that although the watch itself can withstand a few drops, leather wristbands cannot. (This is one of the great mysteries of the universe, especially as told by Jerry Seinfeld.) Obviously the plastic and metal bands will hold up much better to moisture.

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The Apple Watch can survive a swim -- but you should probably think twice about keeping it on in the pool.


As for the hardware, the Apple Watch has a "water resistance rating of IPX7 under IEC standard 60529." Oh, well, that clears it up. If you want to geek out over those details, check out Dan Graziano's explanation of water and dust resistance ratings for your gadgets.

If you just want the important takeaway, it's this: "A device with the rating IPX7 is protected from accidental submersion in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes, but it has not been tested against the entry of dust."

In theory, then, the Apple Watch should be able to join you in the bathtub, let alone the shower, as long as you don't soak for more than half an hour. But Apple expressly notes that submerging the watch is "not recommended" and suggests that you avoid bathing with it as well.

So what does all this really mean? Don't take the watch into the shower, but also don't worry if it gets splashed while you're doing the dishes or having a squirt-gun fight with the kids. You should also be able to go running or hit the gym -- any activity that produces sweat -- without any adverse effects. Indeed, a few Aussies took the Apple Watch into the shower and then a swimming pool, and it emerged unscathed and fully functional.

But here's the upshot: If the watch gets wet, dry it off as soon as you can. The longer it stays wet, the greater the likelihood of damage.

What to do when your Watch gets wet

Okay, what if the watch takes a spin in the washing machine, falls off your wrist into the pool or suffers some other kind of dunk situation -- and now won't turn on?

You have a couple options -- neither of them great. First, you could try the old bag-it-with-silica-gel-packets trick, which has been known to resurrect water-logged phones by absorbing all the moisture. Given the sealed, water-resistant nature of the device, my guess is this won't help -- but there's no harm in trying.

Second, if the watch is still under warranty, take it to your nearest Apple Store and show them it's dead. Whether or not you explain that it got soaked is up to your moral compass. If they don't ask, you certainly don't have to tell. If you shrug your shoulders and mentally plead the Fifth, chances are excellent you'll walk out with a replacement watch.

Your thoughts?