I am terrified of fcking up my Apple Watch
May 24, 2017 8:51 AM   Subscribe

How can I be less precious about my $400 smartwatch?

I was a long-time Fitbit user (Flex, Alta). I am also very active. My main sports are yoga and trail running but I also do a lot of things like hiking, paddling, occasional weight lifting/kettlebells and just general active outdoor fitness stuff. I also teach yoga and stand-up paddleboarding.

I've been using a Garmin to track my running for years and a basic heart rate monitor to track non-GPS exercises, while also wearing my Fitbit. I disliked wearing two devices and I'd been wanting an Apple Watch since they first came out, so when the Sport 2 was released I decided to finally buy one (alumnimum model) and retire my Alta. That was March 18.

Since then I've been wearing the Apple Watch daily, and I like it a lot. I love the functional stuff like text notifications, Dark Sky weather, being able to control my music when I'm teaching and running. I LOVE the way it looks — so sleek compared to the Fitbit. I still prefe my Garmin but I like that I can use Strava in the event my Garmin battery is dead. There are some flaws though. Fitbit's fitness tracking app is so well-designed and intuitive, with all the tracking information in one place. I am annoyed that I have to use a third-party app to track sleep with the Apple Watch. I hate that I can't export exercises out of the Activities app. In general, fitness tracking on the Watch seems like an after thought behind all the "techy" things it can do.

But my biggest problem with the Watch is that I am TERRIFIED, absolutely terrified of fucking it up. The Sport version is water resistant and supposedly has a stronger screen, but in the two months I've had it I've already scratched the screen pretty significantly by — get this — pulling clothes out of my washing machine. I am worried the watch is going to fall off while I'm paddleboarding and sink to the bottom of the lake and I'll never see it again. I am worried the scratched and bumo of wearing it every day are going to compromise it's waterproofing. I am about to go on a 10-day sailing trip and am freaking out about the idea of exposing it to salt water, even though Apple says that should be okay.

My old Alta screen is scratched to hell from playing with kettlebells, but I didn't really care because it was like $120, not $400. I do have AppleCare+ but I'd still have to pay to replace the screen. I've thought about buying screen protectors but I've read they kinda suck for the watch. Protective cases look dorky but I might be convinced to wear one for, say, my sailing trip (not for every day).

Apple Watch owners, how do you cope with this? How has your watch held up to wear and tear? What add-ons can I get to protect it without turning it from a sleek-looking device into a bulky rubber fitness watch? What other advice do you have for super-active Apple Watch users?
posted by Brittanie to Technology (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am not an Apple Watch owner, but point of information:

The aluminum case models use what Apple is calling "Ion-X" glass, which is similar to the material that is used on most smartphone displays. It is shatter-resistant, but can be vulnerable to scratches (this trade-off makes sense with something like the surface area of a phone screen).

The stainless steel Apple Watch models use "sapphire" glass, which is basically the same material that probably covers the camera lens on your phone. It's relatively more scratch resistant, and less shatter resistant. Again, a reasonable trade-off given the surface area and function of a camera lens.

TLDR: If you are someone who uses a screen protector for your phone, it may make sense to use one for the watch.
posted by AndrewInDC at 9:37 AM on May 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

People in the (non-smart) watch collecting community console each other about new scratches by encouraging each other to be zen about it.

I think a well worn watch, like any well worn tool, can be quite beautiful.

What I love about watches is that over time they become reflections of their owners. Maybe yours starts out as jewelry but becomes a tool that reminds you of all the adventures you've had.
posted by danny the boy at 11:01 AM on May 24, 2017 [10 favorites]

I have a simple adhesive screen cover that I'm pretty happy with. (Mine only covers the flat part though, not the contoured edges.) For a while, I used something like this dorky bumper, which worked well (but again, pretty dorky). If you don't mind switching it out as need dictates, I'd still recommend it.
posted by supercres at 11:09 AM on May 24, 2017

I had my watch for an hour and took a shower. Forgot it take it off of course. Was fine.

I watched a YouTube video when it came out - they boiled it in water, submerged it for an hour, took a knife to it. All fine. It got a little messed up - still worked! - after bashing it repeatedly with a cast iron skillet. They did everything they could think of to destroy it.

Don't do any of these things. Only because it would be stupid - but the watch will still work.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 12:03 PM on May 24, 2017

I wear one every day since they launched and have not taken any special care with it other than not submerging it, and I may have a couple scratches here or there but it's held up great. I think the best thing to do is wear it as-is, accept the wear as the patina of use, and put back a little money every month into a peace-of-mind fund so that if version 3 comes out and has some new killer app that you can't live without, you can upgrade then.

They are fundamentally quite tough.
posted by oblique red at 12:05 PM on May 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

How long, realistically, will you want to own this watch? Three years? Five at the very most? By that point, you will be bored with it, something new will be out, and you will want that new thing and care not a whit for the scratches. Fundamentally, your active lifestyle is not compatible with delicate and precious things: but you bought this because of your lifestyle, not because you love delicate and precious things. So take basic precautions, but don't restrict your lifestyle to keep a little museum on your wrist. Put $20 every month into your Gadget Upgrade Fund, consider that your insurance, and get on with the outdoor fun.
posted by epanalepsis at 12:20 PM on May 24, 2017 [9 favorites]

I purchased the Series 1 aluminum Apple Watch soon after it came out. I've worn it just about everyday since then. I bicycle everyday and am generally active. I had the typical first few days of being hyper-aware of wearing an expensive (to me) watch, but quickly settled down into not really thinking about it.

After all this time/use, the watch looks practically new. A couple of tiny screen scratches. No scratches on the casing. No effects from major sweating. Even though the Series 1 is less water-resistant than the current version I've had no issues arise from biking with it in pouring rain or from snow/ice. I've dropped it a few times and slammed my wrist into a couple of things without any damaging effects.

I've never even remotely felt like the watch will fall off. There is no evidence of wear on the bands or around the holes in the band. The inside can get a bit grimy, but a quick wipe with a damp cloth takes care of it.

If you got a major scratch from using a washing machine, maybe you want to bring it in and see if the screen is somehow defective (assuming you didn't run it across a sharp exposed metal edge). Otherwise, since you have AppleCare, don't worry about scratches and just before AppleCare expires assess whether you want to pay the relatively low fee for a new screen that will then last you a couple of more years, easily. By that time you might decide to get a new watch/device instead, or decide your screen is still in good enough shape.

This is speaking as someone who wouldn't mind some of the features of a Series 2 Watch but absolutely cannot justify purchasing one with a problem-free new-looking watch already on my wrist!
posted by mikepop at 12:38 PM on May 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Just wanted to add that the nylon bands can get quite dirty from a lot of sweat/activity. I was able to clean mine up with some soap and water and a sponge but now use that band just for "dressing up" and otherwise use the standard band.
posted by mikepop at 12:42 PM on May 24, 2017

I have been wearing the Apple Watch Series 0 in dark gray (space gray?) every single day since release day. Looking at it carefully - it has a tiny scratch under the face, a couple of hairline scratches on the glass, and is otherwise fine. I've worn it non-stop, mostly with the black sport band ("fluoroelastomer", said Jony) although I also have a sparingly-used gray/black nylon band. It's pretty tough - I've taken no special precautions, although I'll probably upgrade in a year or two because it is fundamentally disposable, unlike the two mechanical watches I've owned.

> the best thing to do is wear it as-is, accept the wear as the patina of use
> you bought this because of your lifestyle, not because you love delicate and precious things. So take basic precautions, but don't restrict your lifestyle to keep a little museum on your wrist.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:00 PM on May 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

I've got the cheapest Series 2 and have hit all sorts of things with it and each time found no sign of damage, much to my surprise. I clean it by rinsing it under the tap. No problems so far (I've had it since November).
posted by BinaryApe at 11:00 PM on May 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

I currently own an Apple 2 watch. Like danny boy says upthread, the approach is: Wabi-sabi .

Here's a story:

Several decades ago, I received an expensive Tag Heuer watch for an engagement present.

Within 10 days, I’d scratched it doing parkour. It was painful but there was no way to fix the damage other than replace the band, which I couldn’t afford to do. So I took a breath, reminded myself that it was a working watch, not just a fashion statement, and moved on.

Over the years, that watch has accumulated dings and scratches from parkour, surfing, skating, and roughhousing. From hauling luggage, lumber, from working in my studio, from working with hot metal.

I still wear that Tag, it still gets compliments, and every little nick tells a story.

After going through a Fitbit and a Garmin, I settled on an Apple 2 watch. (If Tag offered a comparable device, I’d have bought it.)

Since January, it’s accumulated some dings and scratches (hit a wall at high speed at the rink; caught my wrist in a door at work; accidentally dropped it on some free weights while wrangling with the clasp). It still looks pretty good, though not 100% brand new.

But you know what?

epanalepsis is right: How long will I actually own this device?

I have owned my Tag for over 25 years. My watch repair guy says that they can last 50+ years if you regularly service them (which I do).

The Apple 2 will NOT last that long. I’ll wear it until Apple makes it worth my while to upgrade or until it can't be upgraded, which is like 3 years, max.

I got Applecare, I don’t go out of my way to trash it. But ultimately, it’s a useful, but transient gadget.

Like my phone, like the innumerable MP3 players and CD players and Fitbits and wireless mice and Inkjet printers and whatnot that I’ve owned over the years.

It will not last. It is meant not to last.

Enjoy while you own it, maximize it’s features. But it was not intended to last.

So try not to mourn its transience.
posted by skye.dancer at 6:56 AM on May 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'll sign the list of folks who bought one for activity tracking -- training for a half last summer, but also for notifications & interactivity when I'm riding, because I'm mostly a cyclist. I love it, and wear it to the exclusion of my fancy watches most of the time.

And here's the thing: Yes, I have fancy watches, but mostly they're fancy robust watches intended for activity (a Rolex, an Omega Seamaster, a very sporty Oris model, etc.). I am therefore absolutely NOT used to worrying about my watch, because most of my traditional watches are super fault tolerant. (Rolexes generally are descendants from dive watches; the Omega literally IS a dive watch; etc.)

My Apple Watch is Series 1 Sport, which is supposed to be much less waterproof, so I don't swim in it or shower in it, but I definitely DO wash dishes in it, and I sweat like a whore in church when I'm on the bike, and it's absolutely fine.

Live in your watch. It'll be fine.

BTW, if you're frustrated with the flexibility of activity tracking, you might consider using something like Strava via your watch. That's how I tracked my runs (I was already using Strava for riding).
posted by uberchet at 7:02 AM on May 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a 20 month old Apple Watch-- I'm not sure of the make as it was a gift. I replaced the silicon band with a steel one, and pretty much just wear it all the time when I'm not in the water. It's got a few scratches on the glass-- I think from accidentally dragging it along grit on the floor in a supine twist in yoga class. Otherwise, it's basically like new. It's at that sweet spot of "old enough that I'm not paranoid about it" and "new enough to still love it." If it were waterproof, it'd be perfect, so I'm envious of yours.
posted by instamatic at 5:47 PM on May 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

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