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Apple Tech Talk Scorecard
|Makes your Apple Watch water and dust proof and shock resistant.||Replacement Silicone Seals not available.|
|Extra watch bands available||Watch screen protector is optional.|
|Excellent user instructions|
Catalyst Waterproof Apple Watch Case – Introduction
When the Apple Watch was first released, it was not even close to being water resistant. By the time the Series 2 came out, that had improved and since we often get asked about the level of water resistance for the different Apple Watch models, we thought we would share what Apple has to say about swimming with the Apple watch.
“Apple Watch Series 1 and Apple Watch (1st generation) are splash and water resistant, but submerging Apple Watch Series 1 and Apple Watch (1st generation) isn’t recommended.
Apple Watch Series 2 and Apple Watch Series 3 may be used for shallow water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean. However, Apple Watch Series 2 and Apple Watch Series 3 shouldn’t be used for scuba diving, water skiing, or other activities involving high velocity water or submersion below shallow depth.”
The Catalyst Waterproof Apple Watch Case solves that problem. There are lots of third party cases available that completely enclose your Apple Watch so you can change its appearance. Hat works well if you have a Space Gray watch and would like it to look like a Gold Apple Watch for more formal occasions. While those work serve a useful purpose, they are not intended to add any protection to the watch itself.
Catalyst Waterproof Apple Watch Case – Unboxing
The Catalyst Waterproof Apple Watch Case is more than just a pretty face. This is intended to be a serious piece of protection for your Apple Watch. The Catalyst Waterproof Apple Watch Case has an IP-68 waterproof rating to protect your Apple Watch to a depth of 330 feet (100 meters). It has military grade impact protection of 6.6 feet (2 meters) and the case design is intended to give 360 protection.
The Catalyst case is composed of several layers; each designed to provide its own form of protection to your Apple Watch.
The case outer layer is made of impact resistant polycarbonate and completely surrounds your Apple Watch. Integrated into the case is a soft silicone watchband. The band is very similar to the standard band that comes with an Apple Watch but it is attached to the outer case with recessed pins to ensure a secure fit. While removable, the band does not have the quick release that you find on standard bands. While that may seem like a negative, remember that the Catalyst case is designed for rough environments and the last thing you want is for the band to come loose accidently.
Inside the polycarbonate outer case is a silicone waterproof seal that fits around your Apple Watch. The seal has its own digital crown knob that aligns perfectly with the digital crown on your watch, as well as its own side button. Once the watch is installed, you still have full control of all of the functions and features.
Also in the box is a small screwdriver that is needed to remove and replace a single screw on the back of the case, which locks everything together.
As you can see in the picture above, the Catalyst case has what looks like a false watch face in it. We are used to seeing a cardboard representation of the Apple Watch in these types of accessories so we were surprised to fins that this actually a full size “dummy” Apple Watch. When it comes time to install the Catalyst case, you remove the dummy watch and install yours. Don’t be too quick to toss it aside. Packed inside the dummy watch is an extra screw to secure the case. The dummy watch is also a great way to protect the silicone seal when not installed on your watch.
Finally, there is a multi-language user manual packed in the box. We were impressed by the detail included in the manual It is well illustrated and provides step-by-step instructions on how to install your watch. We suggest you take the time to read through all of these instructions before attempting to install your watch. The process is not difficult but being familiar with the various steps will make things go much faster.
Catalyst Waterproof Apple Watch Case – How To Install Your Watch
To see the actual Apple Watch installation process, check out our product review video below.
For those of you that prefer written directions, here are the steps to install your watch.
- Using the included screwdriver, completely remove the screw from the rear of the Catalyst case.
- To separate the top and bottom sections of the case, grip the case on its edges, near the band and use your thumbs to apply pressure to the center of the silicone seal from the rear of the case. Use caution not to puncture the seal with your finger nails or other sharp object. You will need to apply a fair amount of force to separate the sections.
- Remove the front half of the case and remove the silicone seal and dummy watch from the rear section. Carefully remove the silicone seal from the dummy watch.
- To install your Apple Watch into the Catalyst case, first remove whatever watchband is currently installed.
- Inspect you watch and the silicone seal to ensure they are clean, free from dust and dry.
- Carefully install the silicone seal around your Apple Watch, starting with the side that has the digital crown and button. Gently work the silicone seal around the edge of the watch until the silicone seal is all the way around the watch and the top edges is smooth and square. Make sure there are no gaps in the seal and it looks even around the watch face. USE CAUTION NOT TO TEAR OR PUNCTURE THE SILICONE SEAL.
- Place the top section of the watchcase over the Apple Watch and silicone seal being careful that the exposed edge of the seal is straight and smooth, and not trapped along the edge of the case as you look at the watch face.
- Take the top section of the case with the Apple Watch and drop it into the bottom half of the case. Press down firmly until you feel it click into place. Go around each side of the case to ensure all edges are securely snapped together.
- Replace the screw on the bottom of the case.
This may sound like a lot of steps but trust us; it is easier than it sounds. Do it once and you will feel like a pro.
Catalyst Waterproof Apple Watch Case – Overall Impressions
The Catalyst Waterproof Apple Watch Case is well built and has a sturdy feel to it. The outer case is strong and the polycarbonate material is designed to take a beating. We like the way the band is integrated into the case.
While the case adds slightly to the overall size of the Apple Watch, we think it is minimal, especially give the extra protection that you are getting. Even so, we found the watch to be just as comfortable when wearing it in the Catalyst case. The silicone seal protection did not interfere with the ability for the Apple Watch sensors to work and we were able to charge the watch as usual. The digital crown and side button worked perfectly and we had full control of the watch while in the case.
Catalyst says the case provides 360-degree protection and that is certainly true for the outer edges of the watch but the watch face is still exposed. Granted, the top edge of the Catalyst cased is raised above the watch face so even if the watch is dropped face down, there is a fair degree of protection but if very dirty applications like construction sites or hiking in the woods, we could see scenarios where the watch face would get scratched.
Catalyst does make Apple Watch Screen Protectors that are compatible with the Catalyst Waterproof Case and if you are wearing your Apple Watch in ultra-harsh conditions, you may want to consider adding that for ultimate protection. The screen protectors are sold in packs of three and Catalyst may want to consider including one protector in with the Catalyst case to give users an opportunity to try them out.
Our only other concern is regarding the silicone seal. While under normal use it should last a long time, we have some concern that repeated installation and removal of the seal could cause it to weaken or tear. In checking the Catalyst web site, we could not find any indication that replacement seals are available to purchase. We would hate to think that if you damage the silicone seal you have to replace the entire case. We reached out to catalyst for clarification and they confirmed that extra seals are not available for purchase. In the event the seal is defective within the warranty period, Catalyst will replace the entire waterproof case.
The Bottom Line
The Apple Watch is tough in its own right with the latest versions (Series 2 and Series 3), already providing a degree of protection against damage by water. But it is also a delicate electronic instrument and for environments like deep-water use, very dusty conditions or harsh treatment, you probably want an added layer of protection. For that, we think the Catalyst Waterproof Apple Watch Case is an excellent option.
The Catalyst Waterproof Apple Watch Case comes with a one-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects.
Our review unit was for the 42mm Series 2 and Series 3 Apple. Catalyst also makes the waterproof case for the 38mm Series 2 and Series 3 Apple Watch. There is also a model available for the 42mm Series 1 and original Apple Watch. Those are very similar in design and protection except that it is only waterproof to 165 feet (50 meters). Catalyst does not make a case for the 38mm Series 1 or original Apple Watch.
We would like to thank the folks at Catalyst for providing a sample of the Catalyst Waterproof Apple Watch case for our testing and review.
How do you use your Apple watch and what do you do to protect it? Why not join the conversation and leave a comment below.
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