Having a waterproof watch is great for practicality, not having to think about removing your watch when it rains or taking a shower is definitely an advantage. We’ve compiled our best waterproof watches for 2021 below, however not all waterproof watches are the best at tracking swimming activities. If you are looking specifically for swimming watches, please check out our article here.
What do ATM ratings mean?
Most smartwatches, waterproof or not, now come with an ATM rating but do you know what this means?
Your watch can withstand splashes and rain but is not suitable for swimming, showering or prolonged time in the water.
Your watch can withstand the same as above, but you can also keep it on during a shower.
Again, your watch can withstand all of the above and a time in the swimming pool; however, it is not suitable for water sports or diving.
These watches are suitable for all of the above as well as snorkelling but not diving.
20 ATM and above
At this level, watches are suitable for all aspects of water sports, including high-impact sports and diving.
The Waterproof Watches
Garmin Swim 2 – 5ATM
Apparent from the name, the Garmin Swim 2 is designed specifically for swimming and open water use and is a great choice if this is what you require from your smartwatch.
One of the best waterproof watches, the design is very much in line with other Garmin products; however, at a smaller 42mm, it is ideal as a unisex watch, and at just 36g it is light on the wrist, ideal for when you are in the pool. The display is transflective MIP (memory in pixel) makes it clear to read the screen underwater whilst not using additional battery life. Although this isn’t a touchscreen watch, it is easy to navigate, and the silicone strap is well secured with two loops, so you don’t have to worry about the watch coming loose as you swim.
As a swimming watch, it has all the features you would expect, such as GPS for open-water swimming and the ability to track pace, stroke count, and SWOLF, ideal for pool swimming. Furthermore, it will let you know when you need to slow down or speed up with Critical Swim mode. Garmin has also added an excellent heart rate tracker monitored from the wrist rather than needing a chest strap. You can monitor your heart rate as your swim and rest, and further analysis is available on the Garmin Connect App. The Garmin Swim 2 does not have a great range of other smartwatch features as it is predominantly a swim watch; however, it does offer smartphone notifications, calendar, weather and sleep tracking. Unfortunately, the bigger features such as Garmin Pay and music are missing from the Swim 2.
The Garmin Swim 2 claims to give 7 days between charges when in smartwatch mode, 72 hours in pool mode and 13 hours in GPS mode.
- Excellent for serious swimmers
- Accurate heart rate tracking
- Lightweight and secure on the wrist
- Advanced swimming features
- Limited smartwatch features
- Battery life is not as long as the Garmin Swim 1
Garmin Vivoactive 4 – 5 ATM
Garmin is great at producing waterproof watches. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is the follow up to the Vivoactive 3 and whilst not a swimming watch specifically it does offer great features and at 5 ATM is suitable for pool swimming. It is a great watch for runners, hikers, swimmers and generally anyone who loves to be outdoors, and all at a great price.
Apart from size, there has been very little change to the design and display since the Vivoactive 3. The Vivoactive 4 now comes in 45mm with a 1.3-inch display and 40mm with a 1.1-inch display. The two sizes make the watch ideal for all wrist sizes. The display is always-on, sunlight-readable, and housed under Corning Gorilla Glass.
Packed full of features, it is hard to know where to start. This is a multisports watch and offers more than 20 preloaded sports including walking, running, golf, cycling, swimming, and using the Garmin Connect app, you can also design and download your own custom workouts. Furthermore, you can access the Garmin Coach and animated on-screen workouts such as Yoga and Strength training. With more and more emphasis on tracking our own health, the Vivoactive 4 offers several features such as stress, hydration and respiration tracking, and menstrual tracking for female users. There are also all the standard smartphone features you would expect including notifications, music and Garmin Pay,
Garmin claims up to 8 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 6 hours in GPS mode.
- Good battery life in smartwatch mode
- Sleep tracking
- Accurate health and fitness tracking
- Only Android users can respond to notifications
- Limited third-party app support
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 – 5 ATM
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a great all-around smartwatch, particularly for Andriod users, and whilst not a specific swimming watch, is still suitable for use in the pool.
The watch is available in stainless steel or aluminium and in two sizes. The 40mm weighs 37g in stainless steel or 26g in aluminium with a 1.2-inch display and the 44mm weighs 42g in stainless steel or 30g in aluminium with a 1.4-inch display. All designs are circular super AMOLED and feature full-colour always-on display. There are also various colours and watch faces to choose to truly make your watch your own.
The Samsung Galaxy Active Watch 2 offers some great fitness features. It can track seven different activities including walking, running, cycling, swimming and rowing and the running coach gives you performance improving advice in real-time. Health features include stress tracking and guided breathing exercises for those times you need some peace of mind, and the heart rate tracking will send you an alert if your heart rate goes above or below normal levels. The watch will also track your sleep, hydration, caffeine intake and menstrual cycle. Whilst you can receive notifications, you cannot respond to calls, messages, or emails with the Galaxy Active 2.
With any watch, the battery life depends on usage; however, you can expect around 2 days of battery life with typical use. Furthermore, the watch charges wirelessly so no need for charging jacks or wires.
- Slim, lightweight design
- Automatic workout tracking
- Good battery life
- Poor contactless payment support
- Limited use with iPhone
- Limited third-party app support
Fitbit Ionic – 5 ATM
Fitbit are another great brand for creating waterproof watches. Although there are newer models available, the Fitbit Ionic is still a great watch for 2021 and because it is not the latest model it is suitable for most budgets.
With an aluminium build, the Fitbit Ionic is extremely light compared to most other smartwatches, so it is great for all-day wear, which is needed to get the most accurate readings. It comes in three different colours and has a unique square design, for those that prefer a softer look or round watch may want to consider a different model. Furthermore, the full-colour touch screen is protected by Gorilla Glass.
The Fitbit Ionic is suitable for tracking running, cycling, swimming and more and comes with built-in workouts that you can follow on the watch. With built-in GPS and an accurate heart rate tracker, this is a solid choice for fitness enthusiasts. The watch does lack a little in smart features. Fitbit Pay still works very well, and you can receive notifications; however, once you have received them, you can’t do very much, and longer messages or emails can not be read.
Fitbit claims to have up to 5 days of battery life but, as always, this depends on usage.
- Good fitness features
- Battery life
- Fitbit Pay
- Limited smart features
- The design is not for everyone
- Limited Apps
If you have enjoyed our article about waterproof watches then have a look at our article about great swimming apps to go with your watch
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Last Updated on January 15, 2021
Emma is an experienced multifaceted writer and is our Copy and Visual Editor, Social Media Manager and regular Content Contributor. When not working, Emma enjoys life with her little girl, partner and Jack Russell Terrier in the lovely countryside of the South West UK.