February 10, 2020

7 Best Watches for Swimming (Review) 2020

February 10, 2020

Swimming is one of the most popular activities in lake or bayside cities and towns. Whether racing in an olympic sized pool or playing water polo with friends on the beach, a watch is a perfect functional or fashionable swimming accessory to have. The Spring Bar has collated the best watches for swimming for 2020.

There is a multitude of watches that can be used for swimming. In fact, any watch above 5 bar or 50m water resistance can be used for swimming. Even if this list is narrowed down to watches that use only water resistant bands, the number of watches to choose from are still inumerable. In order to narrow the list down, the Spring Bar has used the following criteria: water resistance, readability, functionality, and durability.

Water resistance and readability are the most basic criteria for determining if a watch fits the bare requirements of a swimming watch. A watch with faulty water resistance would be destroyed immediately when its electronics or machinery are exposed to small amounts of water. Readability or design clarity is just as important since there are times a swimmer will look at his watch underwater or through wet goggles.  Functionality and durability remain necessary criteria on this list as they will differentiate the best swimming watches from each other purpose and quality-wise. All the smartwatches chosen for this list specifically include swimming mode functions that allow for tracking swimming statistics.

The list is composed of a mix of watches both smartwatches, digital, and analog watches in order to showcase different options for swimmers depending on their functional requirements and design preferences.

7 Best Watches for Swimming (Review) 2020

ProductsPrices Key Features
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
SM-R830NZKAXAR
$279.00
Military grade shock protection
Automatically Track Workouts
Garmin Forerunner 945
010-02063-00
$599.00Training status with adjustments
Incident detection and assistance
Apple Watch Series 5$499.00
Built-in GPS
Electrical heart sensor
Polar Vantage V
90069667
$499.95
Advanced wrist-based heart rate
Training Load Pro
Recovery Pro
Suunto 9
SS05001900
$599.00GPS Navigation
Over 80 Sport Modes
Estimated Wrist HR
Fossil Gen 4 Explorist
FTW4018
$269.00Rapid charging
Activity Tracking
Custom Goal Tracking
Fitbit Ionic watch
FB503GYBK
$249.95Dynamic Personal Coaching
PurePulse® Heart Rate
Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 4G/LTE$299.0024hr heart rate monitoring
Detects your motion
Timex Ironman Sleek 150
TW5K96400
$82.00199 lap counter
Tap-screen technology™
Seiko Prospex Diver Chronograph
SSC617P1
$372.62
Chronograph
200m wr

1 Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 SM-R830NZKAXAR {Best Overall}

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True to its name the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is an active-feature loaded smartwatch. It’s functions include automatic workout tracking, an accurate heart rate monitor, and even a Running Coach function that gives workout advice in real time. It is an excellent watch for swimming athletes.

The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is housed in a lightweight aluminum case with the tough Gorilla Glass DX+ protecting its dial, and a  strap made of a strong chemical resistant synthetic rubber called fluoroelastomer. It also boasts military grade shock resistance perfect for rigorous training. 

The design of the dial of the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is very clear with ts default watch face showing very large digits for easy reading in the water or straight out of it.

+PROS

  • Lightweight aluminum case
  • Multiple Sports Functionalities
  • Very clear watch face

-CONS

  • Battery life
The Basics:

Brand: Samsung

Model: Galaxy Watch Active 2

Price: $279

Reference Number:  SM-R830NZKAXAR

Diameter: 40mm

Case Material: Aluminum

Crystal Material: Gorilla Glass DX+

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: Fluoroelastomer

Strap/Bracelet Width: 20mm

Watch Type: Smartwatch

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Battery 

Thickness: 10.9mm

Weight: 25.52g

Key Features:

Brand: Samsung

Model: Galaxy Watch Active 2

Price: $279

Reference Number:  SM-R830NZKAXAR

Diameter: 40mm

Case Material: Aluminum

Crystal Material: Gorilla Glass DX+

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: Fluoroelastomer

Strap/Bracelet Width: 20mm

Watch Type: Smartwatch

2 Garmin Forerunner 945 010-02063-00 {Premium Pick}

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The Garmin Forerunner 945 is another excellent athletic watch for swimming. Among its features is a status Training Status function which is designed for optimum training performance. Included in this function are heat, altitude acclimation status, training load focus, recovery time and aerobic and anaerobic training effects.

The Forerunner 945 has 3 different battery modes: a smartwatch mode which allows for up to 2 weeks battery life, a 30 hour GPS mode, and a 60 hour UltraTrac or training mode. This allows for efficient use of battery power, especially in swims remote locations for extended periods of time.

This smartwatch is housed in fiber reinforced polymer with a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 + DX coating and rests comfortably on the wrist with a silicone band. The Forerunner 945 is a heavy-duty watch that could keep up with the intense training of athletic swimming.

+PROS

  • Training specific functions
  • Clear dial design
  • Battery mode switching

-CONS

  • Pricey
The Basics:

Brand: Garmin

Model: Forerunner 945

Price: $599

Reference Number: 945 010-02063-00

Diameter: 47mm

Case Material: Fiber reinforced polymer

Crystal Material: Corning Gorilla Glass 3 + DX coating 

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: Silicone

Strap/Bracelet Width: 22mm 

Watch Type: Smartwatch

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Battery

Thickness: 13.7mm

Weight: 48.19g

Key Features:

Brand: Garmin

Model: Forerunner 945

Price: $599

Reference Number: 945 010-02063-00

Diameter: 47mm

Case Material: Fiber reinforced polymer

Crystal Material: Corning Gorilla Glass 3 + DX coating 

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: Silicone

Strap/Bracelet Width: 22mm 

Watch Type: Smartwatch

3 Apple Watch Series 5

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Compared to the previous entries, the Apple Watch Series 5 is a smartwatch marketed not as an athletic smartwatch, but a watch fit for day to day use. While it still has athletic features like its optical and electrical heart sensors, most of its features are for more casual swimmers. 

However, Apple watches can be fitted with a host of apps from the Apple Store. The functions may not be as effective as specialized athletic watches for swimming, but these apps allow your casual day to day smartwatch to be used for sports. Having the option to download apps also allows for more variation.

Housed in the aluminum case and sapphire crystal of the Apple Watch Series 5 is a powerful 64-bit dual-core processor with 32GB memory, and an Apple watchOS 5. This microcomputer is powered by a lithium-ion battery with up to 18h of battery life, which is relatively short compared to others on this list. It makes up for this shorter life through its formidable set of features. Its LTPO OLED retina-display makes this watch easily readable even underwater.

+PROS

  • General use smart-watch

-CONS

  • Quartz powered
  • Comparatively lower quality
  • Known common brand
The Basics:

Brand: Apple

Model: Apple Watch series 5

Price: $499

Diameter: 44m

Case Material: Aluminium

Crystal Material: Sapphire

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: Silicone

Watch Type: Smartwatch

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Battery

Thickness: 10.7mm

Weight: 47.91g

Key Features:

Brand: Apple

Model: Apple Watch series 5

Price: $499

Diameter: 44m

Case Material: Aluminium

Crystal Material: Sapphire

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: Silicone

Watch Type: Smartwatch

4 Polar Vantage V 90069667

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The Polar Vantage V is another smartwatch specifically designed for athletic use. It has multiple athletic programs geared towards cross-training athletes. The general training features along with its swimming and running programs collect a hefty amount of data which include distances, heart rates, and even calories.

The Polar Vantage V is marketed as a heavy duty triathlon watch, promising military grade durability, and a 40 hour battery life. Training for triathlons demand quite a lot from the athlete and the Polar Vantage V is a watch that intends to keep up with the rigors involved. 

The Vantage V is encased in stainless steel which makes it slightly larger and heavier than the other entries on this list, but makes up for it in increased durability and increased functionality. The large dial also allows for increased readability during a swim.

+PROS

  • Multiple athletic programs
  • Statistics for fitness test

-CONS

  • Slightly heavier than other entries
The Basics:

Brand: Polar

Model: Vantage V

Price: $499.95

Reference Number: 90069667 

Diameter: 46mm

Case Material: Stainless steel 

Crystal Material:  Corning Gorilla Glass

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: Silicone 

Watch Type: Smart watch

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Battery

Thickness: 13mm

Weight: 68.04g

Key Features:

Brand: Polar

Model: Vantage V

Price: $499.95

Reference Number: 90069667 

Diameter: 46mm

Case Material: Stainless steel 

Crystal Material:  Corning Gorilla Glass

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: Silicone 

Watch Type: Smart watch

5 Fitbit Ionic watch FB503GYBK {Best Value}

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Famous for its pioneering of wrist-strapped fitness gadgets, Fitbit has entered the smartwatch space with the affordable yet robust Fitbit Ionic Watch. Most of its features like the heart rate monitor and swim tracker are available on other entries on this list, but what makes it stand out is its copyrighted SmartTrack function.

SmartTrack automatically recognizes and records data on activities that the user does, giving accurate statistics of your workouts and daily activities including your heart rate, respiration, and calories through the day. 

The Ionic Watch is housed in an aluminum case and Corning Gorilla Glass much like other pricier watches on the list, and beats most of them through a multi-day battery life. What makes it stand out is that it only asks for almost half the price.

+PROS

  • Affordable Smartwatch
  • Lightweight aluminum case
  • Brand established in Athletic wear

-CONS

  • Smaller than other entries
The Basics:

Brand: Fitbit 

Model:  Ionic watch

Price: $249.95

Reference Number: FB503GYBK

Diameter: 30mm

Case Material: Aluminium

Crystal Material: Corning Gorilla glass 3

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: elastomer

Watch Type: Smart watch

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Battery

Thickness: 21mm

Key Features:

Brand: Fitbit 

Model:  Ionic watch

Price: $249.95

Reference Number: FB503GYBK

Diameter: 30mm

Case Material: Aluminium

Crystal Material: Corning Gorilla glass 3

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: elastomer

Watch Type: Smart watch

6 Timex Ironman Sleek 150 TW5K96400

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The Timex Ironman Sleek 150 is a digital watch that could compete fairly well with the Smartwatches on our list. While its digital interface and quartz battery make it extremely affordable, it manages to carve a niche in the market among more high-tech swimming watches through basic exercise features.

Ironman Sleek 150’s features include a target time pacer, lap management system, lap memory, chronograph, and 199-lap counter. These features come in a simple but hardy all-resin case and band covered by acrylic glass. It is also water resistant up to 100m which means it can also be used for more demanding water activities like snorkeling.

The main advantage of the Timex Ironman Sleek 150 is its price. It can not keep up with the microcomputers and the technology inside modern smartwatches, but for the swimmer who doesn’t need any expensive features, the Ironman Sleek 150 is the way to go.

+PROS

  • Extremely affordable
  • Very large screen with large digits

-CONS

  • Limited features
The Basics:

Brand: Timex

Model: Ironman Sleek 150

Price: $82

Reference Number: TW5K96400

Diameter: 46mm

Case Material: Resin

Crystal Material: Acrylic

Water Resistance: 100m

Strap/Bracelet: Resin

Strap/Bracelet Width:  20mm

Watch Type: Sport watch

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Quartz

Thickness: 13mm

Weight: 58.9g

Key Features:

Brand: Timex

Model: Ironman Sleek 150

Price: $82

Reference Number: TW5K96400

Diameter: 46mm

Case Material: Resin

Crystal Material: Acrylic

Water Resistance: 100m

Strap/Bracelet: Resin

Strap/Bracelet Width:  20mm

Watch Type: Sport watch

7 Seiko Prospex Diver Chronograph

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The Seiko Prospex Diver Chronograph is the fashionable choice among the watches on this list. Its only features are a 24 hour hand and a chronograph, but its beautiful design, water resistance, and practically limitless battery life make this watch worthwhile. It’s just the right watch for the casual swimmer.

The Prospex Diver Chronograph is, as its name implies, a diver’s watch. It has a water resistance of 200m making it sturdy enough to withstand swimming, snorkeling, jet skiing, and diving. The movement of the Prospex Diver is powered by solar energy, eliminating the need to charge and giving its quartz battery a much longer battery life even compared to other quartz powered watches, which usually have batteries lasting up to 5 years.

Swimming in the Prospex Diver Chronograph, while limited in its athletic capabilities, deserves a place on our list as it serves swimmers who are much more into making a statement on the beach than fine tuning their athleticism. 

 

+PROS

  • Beautiful analog design
  • Solar powered quartz
  • Very high water resistance

-CONS

  • Limited features
The Basics:

Brand: Seiko 

Model: Prospex Diver Chronograph

Price: $372.62

Reference Number: SSC617P1

Diameter: 43.5mm

Case Material: Stainless Steel

Crystal Material: Hardlex

Water Resistance: 200m

Strap/Bracelet: Silicone

Strap/Bracelet Width:  22mm

Watch Type: Diver’s watch

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Solar powered Quartz

Functions/Complications: 24-hour hand

& Chronograph 

Thickness: 13mm

Key Features:

Brand: Seiko 

Model: Prospex Diver Chronograph

Price: $372.62

Reference Number: SSC617P1

Diameter: 43.5mm

Case Material: Stainless Steel

Crystal Material: Hardlex

Water Resistance: 200m

Strap/Bracelet: Silicone

Strap/Bracelet Width:  22mm

Watch Type: Diver’s watch

Best Watches for Swimming Buyer’s Guide and FAQs

Key Features to Consider In Buying a Watch for Swimming

 

In this guide, we compared the best watch options for swimmers in terms of water resistance, readability, functionality, and durability.

 

  • Water resistance: Water resistance is the most important consideration when choosing a watch to swim with. It is the basic factor which dictates whether a watch will survive when used underwater. There are different levels of water resistance, and what a swimmer needs is a minimum of 5 Bar, 5 ATM, or 50M water resistance. Watches below these resistances don’t have seals that can withstand water pressure effectively. Ultimately, watches below 50M water resistance will allow water to break into the electronics or mechanics of a watch short circuiting or damaging everything inside. Most watches on the market today have a base water resistance of 50M, but for our purposes we also considered the effectivity of a watch’s band when used for swimming

 

  • Readability: Swimmers won’t usually check their watches underwater. They would usually check their watches after they surface. However, should the need to check underwater arise, it would be good to have a watch with a dial clear enough or large enough to be read. Also, a clear, large dial on a watch eliminates the need for a swimmer to remove goggles when checking his watch – allowing for a continuous workout.

 

  • Functionality: Functionality is an important factor in determining watches for athletic swimmers. Athletic swimmers would usually use watches to record important data during their training. A good watch with great functionality allows the athletic swimmer to collect a greater amount of statistics for more efficient training. Most smartwatches already have built-in swimming functionalities, but differentiate from each other as to the kinds of statistics they can collect and the accuracy they collect these statistics. This list also considered the battery life offered by each watch on this list. Battery life has taken a backseat in making modern swimming watches in exchange of functionality. Battery life, however, remains important for swimmers who like swimming in more remote locations.

 

  • Durability: Durability is also an important criteria for considering watches for swimming. Swimming is a high impact sport which exposes the watch, not only to force exerted by the athlete when swimming in certain forms like freestyle, but also to water pressure that changes rapidly as the watch is submerged deeper into the water. While water pressure may be negligible and barely noticeable to the swimmer, it is enough to be destructive to small electronics like watches and the parts inside which are even smaller. Durable watches must survive high impact actions like the act of swimming itself and the smaller forces like water pressure. In this regard, apart from water resistance, this list also considered the case and glass material.

 

What makes a watch water resistant?

The water resistance of a watch is basically how well sealed a watch is against the entry of water and the ability of a watch to withstand water pressure. Watches are made of a multitude of tiny parts and the case itself has seams in which very minute amounts of water can get through. Watches, especially modern smartwatches, are very sensitive to water because of even a small amount of water is enough ruin and rust gears or even short-circuit microelectronics. The primary protection of a watch against water and humidity are multiple small gaskets or o-rings composed of rubber or silicone that prevent water from coming in. Higher water resistance basically means stronger gaskets. The water resistance of each watch is tested thoroughly against international standards set by the International Organization for Standardization or ISO.

How do I take care of my water resistant watch?

Taking care of a water resistant watch is boils down to its cleaning. Seals are made of rubber or silicone gaskets that can be eroded by using strong cleaning chemicals. The best way to clean a water resistant watch is to use a damp cloth with a small amount of water and very mild soap. Most watches include cleaning guides in their instruction manuals so it is good to consult these if they are available. If not, consulting forums with enthusiasts who own the same watches is another option.

What is the difference between Bar, ATM, and M water resistance measurements? And what do they mean?

The water resistance measurement ATM is an abbreviation for atmosphere, a measurement for water pressure. M is the short form of meters. 1 ATM is equal to 10M or approximately 30ft of static water pressure. Bar is another term for atmospheres. Therefore, a common swimming watch water resistance of 5ATM is equal to 5BAR or 10M of water resistance.