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Protecting the Apple Watch from scratches – what’s necessary?

Apple is officially launching the Apple Watch on April 24th with pre-ordering available now online. Customers who sucessfully pre-ordered are waiting for their Watch and thinking about what accessories they will need to complement the device. One major area of concern is whether they will need something to protect the device from scratches and broken screens. In this post, we will examine how fragile the Apple Watch may be and offer ways that you can protect your investment.

Will scratching be a problem?

Apple confirmed that it would be offering the Watch with two different display materials — Ion-X glass in the Watch Sport and sapphire in the Watch and Watch Edition. The Ion-X glass was included in the Sport model because it is lightweight yet strong, matching the design aesthetics of the deivce. Ion-X also is cost efficient to produce as it uses a relatively simple ion exchange process to strenthen the glass.

Ion-strengthened glass is known to be impact resistant, absorbing the bumps of daily wearing without cracking. It also offers some scratch resistance, but it is not as scratch-proof as sapphire, leaving many Watch customers wondering if they should pay more for the sapphire display.

Watch Sport

How scratch prone will the Sport edition be? We won’t know until the Watch is available publicly, but we can look to the iPhone 6 for some guidance. Though Apple divulges very little about its display technology, we do know that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus also shipped with ion-strengthened glass which may be similar to that being used in the Sport Watch. If you want to gauge the potential durability of the Sport Watch, you should look down at your phone if you are an iPhone 6/6 Plus owner, or browse YouTube for iPhone 6 scratch tests.

Sapphire Watch and Watch Edition

Sapphire, on the other hand, is widely used in watches because of its strength and scratch resistance. A recent torture test by UK electronics repair shop iPhonefixed shows the durability of the Watch’s sapphire screen. Even after hammering and drilling, no marks remained on the material. This bodes well for customers looking for a Watch that’ll remain scratch-free in most circumstances.

Sapphire may be scratch-proof but it has an Achilles’ heel; the material is brittle and has a tendency to shatter under impact. These frailties were highlighted by Corning in a recent series of videos comparing the breakability of Gorilla Glass with sapphire.

What about the Casing?

Another area that may become scratched is the casing that surrounds the Watch. Though not as critical as the screen, a blemish on the case may mar the appearance of the device and lower its resale value. In the casing department, the Watch Sport is at a disadvantage, being constructed from relavitely soft aluminum. Even though Apple may take steps to improve the aluminium in its devices, the material still is susceptible to small dents and scratches.

Similar to most watches, the Apple Watch is constructed of stainless steel, which offers improved protection from scratches and dents. You still can scratch stainless steel, but it takes a decent impact with another object to leave a blemish. Gold watches, such as the Watch Edition, also will be susceptible to scratches, but a skilled jeweler likely will be able to buff out minor imperfections.

A Personal Decision

In the end, it’s a personal matter — do scratches on a screen drive your crazy? If you nodded in agreement, then you should consider purchasing the sapphire-equipped Apple Watch. It costs a bit more, but you can relax and use it without worrying whether each little bump ror brusie will leave a damaging scratch.

If you are like me and more concerned about bumping your Watch, then you should consider the Watch Sport. I am less concerned about scratching and more worried that I will shatter my screen the first time I put my kayak in the lake with my Watch on my wrist. I rather take one of the other preventative measures below to reduce scratches in order to keep my purchase price low and impact resistance high.

Protective Measures

If you are concerned about damage to your Watch display, there are several protective measure you can take. First, you can purchase a screen protector, such as these 42mm protectors and body skins from Armorsuit. The screen protectors and skins also are available for the 38mm Watch models.

For more stylish protection, consider a bumper case. Right now, case choices are limited to a handful of options from manufacturers like Spigen, but this cottage industry should explode once the Watch is available later this month.

Last, but not least, there is AppleCare+. This extended warranty provides two-years of repair service and two replacements due to accidental damage. I’ve added AppleCare+ to previous iPhone and iPads, and it has been a lifesaver more than once. You can purchase AppleCare+ along with your new Apple Watch or buy it within 60 days of your Apple Watch purchase. The price varies based on which Watch model you purchase. For example, the Watch Sport plan is available for $49 and includes a deductible of $69 for each damage replacement, while the Apple Watch plan is priced at $69 with $79 replacements.

Do you know how you will protect your Apple Watch? Are you concerned about its durability? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Steve is the founder and former publisher of Apple World Today and has authored a number of books about Apple products. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist. Steve and his wife Barb love to travel everywhere!