It’s no surprise that the Apple Watch has become an almost permanent fixture on many of our wrists, considering the range of features it has, with the most prominent, convenient, and beloved being its fitness features.
So it makes sense that you would want to wear your Watch in the sauna or steam room.
After all, in a sauna, you’re subjecting your body to exercise-like conditions—sweating, a slightly increased heart rate, and calorie burn—and it makes sense, as it does with any other exercise session, to want to see just to what impact the sauna is having on your vitals.
It also helps you track the duration of your sauna session—a highly important aspect of sauna/steam room bathing.
However, is it advisable to wear an Apple Watch in the sauna, considering that steam, heat, and moisture are no friends to any electronics?
Here’s all you need to know to make the decision of whether or not you should be wearing your Apple Watch to the steam room/sauna.
The Apple Watch revolutionized the watch industry—there had been smartwatches before, but none as big as the Apple Watch, with the range of features and efficiency that it came with.
Within a year of its release (2015), the Apple Watch claimed the top spot in all lists of bestselling smartwatches, and with every successive edition, its popularity has only grown.
One of the reasons for the Apple Watch’s massive success has been its ability to resist water. Though the first version was not designed to survive any exposure to water (it was only water and splash resistant), the later versions come equipped with the ability to resist water to the extent of even letting you wear your watch on a swim.
Many people use ‘waterproof’ and ‘water resistant’ interchangeably, but the two definitely don’t hold the same meaning and could make all the difference between a product surviving in water or not.
Water resistance refers to the ability of an object to withstand exposure to water up to a certain limit, beyond which it starts to fail.
A water-resistant watch may be able to withstand normal, day-to-day water exposure, such as washing your hands, a splash of water, or a bit of rain, but will fail if exposed to anything more, such as being submerged in water.
You can determine how water resistant a watch is by checking the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) rating and the manufacturer’s specified depth limit for the watch.
The ISO rating is especially important—this is a standard that’s used all over the world to check how water resistant a watch is, with watches put through several tests such as condensation and pressure tests. Depending on how well the watch fares, it is awarded the appropriate ISO rating.
In addition to this, the manufacturer’s depth rating will let you know up to what depth of water the watch will function properly. This could be a low number like 30 meters, for most standard watches, or a high number like 300 meters (or even beyond), as it is with dive watches.
In the Apple Watch’s case, it’s 50 meters, as mentioned earlier.
To be waterproof means to be able to completely resist the effects of water, no matter how much of it the object is exposed to.
A waterproof watch is one that is completely impregnable to water, with absolutely no chance of water getting into the watch and affecting its functioning. However, waterproofing isn’t flawless—there are limits to waterproofing as well. With sufficient exposure to water and pressure, waterproofing capabilities also start to fail.
If you can wear your Apple Watch on a swim, where there are definitely larger amounts of water surrounding your watch, you should be able to wear it in the sauna, right? Isn’t it waterproof?
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
Apple Watches, like iPhones, are only water resistant up to a certain limit.
Apple specifies that though Series 2 watches and higher are water resistant up to 165 feet or 50 meters, they say in the very same breath that taking your Apple Watch into the sauna or steam room will damage it.
This is because, unlike solid water, water vapor has really fine particles that can seep through the watch’s water resistance defense mechanisms; in addition to your own sweat (which contains the toxins your body is expelling and could easily seep into the watch, by the way) this could all be a little too much for your watch.
There’s also the added element of intense heat which can severely damage the Watch’s internal parts and cause them to fail.
Here’s a deeper look at how saunas and steam rooms can affect your Apple Watch.
Though saunas are drier than steam rooms, there is still moisture in the air, mostly from your evaporating sweat. Even if moisture wasn’t the problem, your watch still has to contend with the heat from the infrared technology and electric radiators.
Apple Watches are engineered to only withstand temperatures between 32 and 95℉ on a consistent basis. Even though Apple says that you can store the watch in a wider temperature range (-4 to 113℉), it isn’t advisable to do so, as this could shorten battery life and cause other issues in the watch.
The ambient heat in a sauna is between 167 and 212℉, which your Apple Watch is in no way equipped to handle. The small but significant amount of moisture in the air inside the sauna doesn’t help things, either.
Even if your watch somehow manages to survive the session, there is no guarantee that it will continue functioning well after the session.
Steam rooms, as the name suggests, have steam! The main source of heat here is steam and temperatures can reach up to 110℉ in a steam room.
Though the humidity can work wonders for your health, it doesn’t do so for your Apple Watch. Water molecules, tightly packed and close to each other, don’t penetrate things as easily and as deep as loose, fast-moving steam molecules do.
Therefore, steam can work its way more easily into the Watch’s components.
One or more of the following could happen to your watch when it’s exposed to the sauna or steam room:
- Overheating and blacking out
- Lines/streaks in the display
- Shortening of overall battery life
- Physical damage to the screen
- Reduction in long-term water resistance
In some cases of accidental exposure to water, the damage can be fixed, thanks to the handy ‘water lock’ feature that the Apple Watches come equipped with.
First, dry your watch as much as possible with a lint-free cloth. Then, pressing the water lock button will help expel any water that’s in your watch. If your watch has gone off, use the water lock feature and then charge it; the heat from charging may also aid in getting rid of any leftover water inside.
However, this feature only helps expel water from the speakers. Furthermore, you shouldn’t rely on it as a fix-it-all cure for water damage. You have a better chance of taking your watch to an Apple service center.
Be warned, though—if Apple realizes that your watch is suffering from water damage (which they will from the tell-tale signs on the internal components, so there’s no point even changing the story), your warranty will not cover the repairs.
Even if the heat was the main culprit but the steam triggered the moisture indicators inside the watch, your warranty is voided. This also means that even if your watch was damaged due to some other reason but these moisture indicators have been triggered, you’re still not getting that warranty coverage.
Really not worth it to take your watch into the sauna when you consider it all, right?
Your watch’s water resistance is anyway going to eventually decrease—there’s no need to push it along, especially when a watch costs as much as an Apple Watch does.
If you want to track the time, take a simple analog watch to your sauna session and keep it aside or just listen to your body and leave the room when you need to.
In any case, a sauna sesh is about relaxation and peace, and you don’t want a continuously beeping, buzzing, active gadget with you ruining that.
So really, there are quite a few good reasons to leave that Apple Watch behind—it’s much better for you and your watch that you do so!