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Published Jun. 9, 2021

The best technology grants us the freedom to work and play whenever and wherever we want. Smartwatches embody this idea. They allow us to keep track of our activities and alerts pretty much anywhere—sometimes even underwater. Waterproofing technology allows top smartwatches to function through all types of weather, whether we’re caught in an unexpected downpour or jumping into the shower, swimming pool, or even the ocean. The best waterproof smartwatch operates safely and helps keep you connected no matter where the day takes you.

What to consider when looking for the best waterproof smartwatch

With the unpredictability of life, everyone can benefit from the added protections found in waterproof smartwatches. While it’s easy to imagine the benefit for hiking and outdoor sports, waterproofing is a smart choice for added protection from far more typical activities like handwashing or gardening. Popular brands—including Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin—all offer waterproofing features to boost their overall durability for their customers. Sport models offer even higher levels for outdoor lifestyle customers. LTE-enabled options can make calls and keep you connected without a phone, giving you even more freedom to dive headfirst into adventure. Consider your activities and choose your watch’s level of protection to match.

Going off the grid?

Whether your plans involve day-tripping into National Parks or navigating much longer trips into the backcountry, there’s a level of preparedness that can match. If you’re only worried about getting caught in the rain, or maybe navigating a tricky creek crossing, you should look for a watch with a water rating of 5ATM (5 atmospheres), meaning it can withstand underwater pressures at a depth up to 50 meters. Accordingly, 10ATM and 20ATM correspond with 100 meters and 200 meters—appropriate if you plan to go from just hiking and fishing to sailing, surfing, or snorkeling. This waterproofing protects the full suite of sensors—including GPS, altimeters, barometers, and compasses—that can make a properly specced tactical smartwatch an integral part of an expedition.

Taking kids to get wild and cool off?

If your electronics ended up near a pool, chances are you’d be conscious of whether to leave them safely in a car or locker. Your kid, however, just wants to jump right in. And if you tell them to take something off but look after it, chances are that something isn’t making it home. So a kid’s smartwatch needs to be inexpensive and durable. Luckily, brands have taken this into consideration and made their children’s smartwatches lower in price than their adult versions, but with some surprisingly handy features—like waterproofing. The best kids’ smartwatches are fun and encourage your child to keep moving. And they’re resilient enough to keep up with the child while tracking their health and whereabouts.

Need a watch to go from the workday to weekend?

If your work life is already deeply integrated with Apple’s ecosystem, it makes sense to opt for an Apple Watch to maintain and even increase your productivity. As with most Apple products, they are designed to seamlessly work together, intuitively handing off apps, alerts, and data. On top of that, they’re water-resistant and look as much at home with a sports jacket as they do sportswear…as good with a three-piece suit as a swimsuit. The point is, an Apple Watch balances functionality and finesse.

Have an Android smartphone?

Android smartwatches are offered by a variety of different brands, including TicWatch, Samsung, Fossil, Fitbit, Misfit, and more. Unlike the Apple Watch, Android smartwatch technology is conveniently compatible with both Android smartphones and Apple iPhones. The price point for Android’s best smartwatches varies depending on the number of features you are looking for, but is typically between $150 and $300. Due to the variety of manufacturers, you have a wider range of styles and looks than you do when purchasing the Apple Watch, including plenty designed to withstand the rigors of the office and the outdoors. 

Focused on fitness?

When you look at the ratings of waterproof watches, you’re usually considering extreme circumstances. But if your main focus is fitness, considering the water-resistance of a best smartwatch makes sense because of one simple factor: sweat. You want a watch that can stand up to the most intense workout, rain or shine, while also obtaining vital readings such as skin temperature, oxygen saturation, breathing rate, and heart rate. Beyond protecting those sensors, you want the watch to keep running so it can play the music and podcast you need to keep motivated. 

The best waterproof smartwatches

A great waterproof smartwatch will withstand the pressures of water and your level of activity. It won’t be daunted by rain, sleet, or snow, or by a spontaneous trip to splash in the ocean. On top of how much water it will resist, the best waterproof smartwatch can also help you track your own hydration and other levels that will keep you in optimal physical and mental health while out adventuring. The right timepiece for you will always keep pace. Here are some suggestions.

Best tactical smartwatch: Garmin fenix 6X Pro Solar

Solar-Powered Adventures

Get all the best tactical features with solar-charging technology. Garmin

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This fully-loaded Garmin tactical smartwatch is rated at 10ATM, meaning you could take it just about anywhere but diving (there are even surfing-specific features). It can survive drops and submersion, offers advanced health monitoring features to keep tabs on your blood oxygen saturation levels, altitude, sleep, and pace planning. Features to note include Multi-GNSS tracking, plus maps for at-a-glance navigation. While expensive, this solar tactical smartwatch extends the already long battery life by recharging while on your wrist for weeks of life (or days if GPS is constantly running).

Best kids’ smartwatch: Fitbit Ace 3

Slim Size, Full Features

Track fitness and health with this easy-to-use smartwatch. Fitbit

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This affordably-priced Fitbit activity tracker is swimproof, with water resistance up to 50 meters. All-day activity tracking lets you exhibit the value of healthy habits, and sleep tracking lets you know if they’re actually getting rest or staying up after storytime. The virtual badges and motivating clock faces are just as animated as your child. And up to eight days of battery life could potentially outlast your kid (yeah, right).

Best Apple watch: Apple Watch Series 6

The Lightweight Heavyweight

Take calls, reply to texts, monitor your workouts, health, and more. Apple

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Whether you jump into a project or a pool, the Apple Watch Series 6 can handle it. Rated water resistant to 50 meters under ISO rating of 22810:2010, the Apple Watch is comfortable in any environment: boardroom to beach. This waterproof smartwatch can sync seamlessly to your iPhone, use apps to measure your vitals, and keep you moving. If you’ve ever used an Apple product, you know there’s an app for that…and that…and you get the idea. For watersport enthusiasts, Apple offers a face customized with unique features like surfing forecasts and conditions from Dawn Patrol, as well as data for sailing and kayaking. If you’re spending extended periods in liquid, however, it’s best to opt for the sports band that is made from a soft, silicone rubber because it has a little stretch, making it comfortable to wear during activity. With the Apple Watch Series 6 versus a multisport fitness-specific watch, however, you will have to factor in nightly charging to keep your watch running.

Best Android smartwatch: SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch Active2

Made For Every Movement

Two-day battery life with loads of fitness-based features. Samsung

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This stylish smartwatch is also resilient, rated at 5ATM and IP68 (meaning it can withstand dust, dirt, and sand, and is resistant to submersion up to a maximum depth of 1.5m underwater for up to 30 minutes). So, whether you accidentally drop it in the pool or intentionally wear it while doing a pike and tuck, the SAMSUNG Galaxy Watch Active2 can survive and thrive. And its digital dial makes it easy to navigate menus full of options for activity tracking and smart assistants, as this smartwatch can connect to almost any phone and extend its connectivity and controls (though, it should be noted, iPhone users will have access to fewer features than Android users).

Best fitness tracker: Fitbit Sense

Smarter Workouts

Sensors track vitals to help guide your daily fitness and wellness goals. Fitbit

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Swimproof to 50 meters, so you can track laps or just splash around with your kid wearing the similarly equipped Fitbit Ace 3, this fully loaded watch takes fitness and wellness tracking to the next level—monitoring heart rate, skin temperature, oxygen saturation, workout intensity, and more to help you meet your goals. From electrodermal activity to an ECG app, it’s tracking your body’s rhythms and stress—useful information to help you and your doctor tweak your lifestyle. It’s packed with advice and enhancements, good on and off dry land.


Q: Which Samsung smartwatch is waterproof?

Samsung models Galaxy Fit, Galaxy Fit2, Gear S3, Galaxy Watch, Galaxy Watch3, Galaxy Watch Active, and Galaxy Watch Active2 offer protection from water. Waterproof Samsung smartwatches can survive for up to 30 minutes in water 5 feet deep or shallower. Luckily, that will keep your watch safe during most common uses, including casual swimming. Samsung smartwatches, like most smartwatches, are not completely waterproof. Many smartwatches are marketed as waterproof, even though there are limitations to this waterproofing. According to Samsung’s website, if used in saltwater, you should rinse your watch off afterward with fresh water. Also, note that Samsung watches are not designed for scuba diving.

Q: Which smartwatch is best for swimming?

Water ratings let you know the amount of water resistance or waterproofing your watch has, therefore helping you select the appropriate watch for your lifestyle. Swimmers should look for a minimum 5ATM-rated watch, which can withstand pressures of up to 50 meters deep. A 10ATM watch can handle up to 100 meters of pressure, and is a great choice if your swimming also includes diving and high-speed water sports. Garmin makes a nice selection of top smartwatches for swimming with 5ATM and higher levels of water protection. Some watches, such as the Apple Watch also have swim-specific tracking modes if you typically work out in the pool. The highest level of protection will be found on Dive watches, which can be found for as little as $200, though the best are typically closer to $1,000 or more.

Q: Are waterproof smartwatches worth it?

Waterproof smartwatches are worth it for most people because their improved durability will likely extend the lifespan of your device. While top smartwatches are great for a host of features, like playing music, using apps, and checking email, most consumers enjoy some of the great fitness and active lifestyle features included with these devices. Having waterproofing allows you to keep your smartwatch on for swimming, showers, handwashing, rainstorms, or any other unexpected water encounters. 

Related: The Garmin Instinct Solar smartwatch is a great choice for thru-hiking.

The final word on choosing the best waterproof smartwatch

Smartwatches can feel empowering, adding technology that allows wearers to track their vitals, fitness goals, sleep, and stress. Rugged smartwatches can be taken off the grid and offer users trackback maps and GPS-aided navigation, while simpler models help keep us all connected and motivated for a healthier active lifestyle. And the best waterproof smartwatches make sure that this motivation doesn’t end at the shoreline or when it rains.