Three Ways to Protect your Apple Watch (and One Way Not To)

| Dr. Mac's Rants and Raves

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #146


Soon after receiving my Apple Watch, I set out to find the best ways to protect it. I started by ordering half a dozen different Apple Watch screen protectors from, with prices ranging from $0.66 each (KlearKare) to $14.99 each (Invisible Shield). All of ‘em are self-healing protective film. Some are soft and flexible and require wetting; others are stiff and self-adhesive. Most include a microfiber cloth and a squeegee-like card for removing air bubbles; the flexible films also include a small spray bottle of application solution. While applying the flexible film protectors can be tricky, once you get it on without wrinkles or bubbles — whether flexible or stiff — they stay in place for quite some time.

Sadly, while they may have stayed in place for weeks or months, within a week or two they all began peeling or showing wear along the edges.

The flexible films — this one is from Invisible Shield — all started to peel and look ratty within a few weeks.  The flexible films — this one is from Invisible Shield — all started to peel and look ratty within a few weeks.  

They still protect the watch face while they’re doing it, but it doesn’t look very nice. That said, since most of them are super-cheap, it’s no big deal to replace them when they start looking tattered and worn (or are damaged while protecting your watch). For example, I had a SuperShieldz screen protector ($5.48 for 6 = 0.91¢ each) on last week when I noticed it had cracked. I apparently bumped into something hard enough to crack the (stiff) protector.

This inexpensive SuperShieldz screen protector cracked after an impact, but it left my screen undamaged.

This inexpensive SuperShieldz screen protector cracked after an impact, but it left my screen undamaged.

When I removed it, my watch face was still pristine. That was impressive; the crack in the shield implied that my watch face took a direct hit from something hard and unyielding. In my humble opinion, SuperShieldz (and the other screen protectors I tried) all protected my watch face without interfering with its operation or visibility. The ridiculously low prices should make this a no-brainer if you’re concerned about scratching your watch crystal. I have at least a dozen more of them; when one starts looking ratty I tear it off and apply a new one.

So, with my screen protection needs covered (pun intended), I next looked for a product to protect the rest of my Apple Watch from scratches, scuffs, bumps, and bruises.

The Ultra Thin Case from Griffin Technology is just what its name implies—a very thin, featherweight polycarbonate case that snaps easily onto your watch and protects its shiny parts without affecting its operation. They’re less than $7 each and you get three of ‘em in different colors for $19.99, so in addition to the modicum of protection they provide, they can also serve as a kind of fashion statement.

The Griffin Ultra Thin Case is both thin and fashionable.

The Griffin Ultra Thin Case is both thin and fashionable.

While the cases are so thin they feel kind of flimsy, I’ve yet to lose or damage one after several weeks. If you’re looking for something lightweight, unobtrusive, and stylish, this could be the one.

The CandyShell Fit from Speck Products is a bit thicker and somewhat sturdier than the Griffin cases. Like Griffin’s offerings, it snaps on and off your Apple Watch in seconds. But, unlike the Griffin offering, the CandyShell Fit has a raised bezel that provides additional protection for the screen and is lined with soft, shock-absorbing material for additional impact protection. So while it’s more expensive, it offers significantly more impact protection than the Griffin product (albeit without the fashion component).

Speck’s CandyShell Fit has a soft lining for impact protection (left) without bulk.

Speck’s CandyShell Fit has a soft lining for impact protection (left) without bulk.

It doesn’t feel noticeably heavier on the wrist than the Ultra Thin, so if you’re looking for something lightweight, but with more protection than the Griffin, this may be the one.

Finally, I tested the Lunatik Epik, a much more expensive option ($139.99) that combines a large cast-aluminum outer shell with a sporty silicone band. It felt heavy and bulky and required a small wrench (included) to put it on or take it off. Within a few days I knew it just wasn’t for me.

Lunatik Epik is bigger, heavier, and much more expensive…

Lunatik Epik is bigger, heavier, and much more expensive…

I sent pictures to Lunatik and was told, “Our warranty only covers the EPIK itself not the Apple Watch. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.” But when I removed it, I was horrified to discover that its bare metal interior had scratched the back of my watch.

Lunatik Epik was an epic failure, leaving these scratches on the back of my watch.

Lunatik Epik was an epic failure, leaving these scratches on the back of my watch.

While I recommend the other products I’ve mentioned without hesitation, the Lunatik Epik was an epic failure, scratching the very device it was supposed to protect. Caveat emptor.

Products mentioned:

  • KlearKare. $0.66 each
  • Invisible Shield. $14.99 each
  • SuperShieldz. $0.91 each
  • Griffin Ultra Thin Case. $6.66 each
  • Speck CandyShell Fit. $29.95
  • Lunatik Epik. $139.99

And that’s all he wrote…

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It has been widely documented online that Space Grey Apple Watch Sport owners have reported unexpected rear logo damage and other text scratching off the back of their devices, completely separate from any use of protective housings or coverings. Nearly all of the online photos showing this Apple Watch issue are in the same area as above photo. Like EPIK or not, this damage is not likely the result of the accessory, rather a flaw in the Space Grey Apple Watch Sport.

Larry Rice

This is very helpful, Bob. Thank you!

I’m curious:  do you wear the Watch on your left wrist with the controls on the left side of the case?  That appears to be the case in the pictures. That struck me as odd, or at least counter-intuitive.

Bob LeVitus

CamJ56: I’ve seen the pictures and agree the damage looks similar. But I had no damage when my watch went into the EPIK and it was damaged when it came out less than two weeks later. Since the inside of the EPIC case is bare metal… I can’t help but believe the damage was caused by the case.

I think I’m going to make a Genius Bar appointment and see what happens. 

Larry Rice: YES! I do wear it on my left wrist with the controls facing left… It’s easier to talk into the mic and hear the speaker this way.  (Thanks to Dave Hamilton for suggesting it on Mac Geek Gab…)

It feels more natural to me now than the “usual” way (with the crown/button facing right); callers say they hear me better (than when I wore it the other way); and I hear them better, too.

There’s a setting in the Watch App to switch it—give it a try, you may like it!


Thanks, Bob.

Having killed three of Space Grey AW Sports inside of 6 weeks, these might have come in handy in the beginning.

Although I’ve figured out how not to how not to kill my watches, these guards might be worth a look. The Speck looks particularly appealing for blunt force trauma avoidance, less so the Griffin.

Bob LeVitus

Wab95: I’m using the Speck myself. Seems the best combo of protection and unobtrusiveness for me.


Sadly, the black/grey 42 mm case is out of stock. Seems popular enough.

Does TMO benefit from your referral? I didn’t see a link.

Lee Dronick

Bob, can you speak to not using a protective cover? Is the glass scratch resistant enough without it?

Bob LeVitus

wab95:  Bryan takes care of referral links after I turn in my columns, so I really don’t know.

Lee: I scratched the crystal of my Apple Watch Sport the first week, which convinced me that it needs protection. The Stainless models have different (sapphire) crystals that may be more resistant to scratching, but I don’t have one of those anymore (I had one for a few weeks to review and it never got a single scratch.)

Lee Dronick

Thanks Bob, that helps me make a decision on which watch to buy. I don’t care for the protective sheets on my iPhone so I would rather not have one on my watch. I am leaning towards the stainless model though more research on my part is in order.

Ayushi Yakshi

Thanks for sharing the ways to Protect your Apple Watch.



I do not have a Watch yet - I plan to buy a second generation model when they come out. But I am interested in the mic and speaker comment.

My plans are to wear my upcoming Watch on my left wrist as well, but with the face on the underside of my wrist instead of the top of my wrist. Given your logic that you wear it the way you do to improve mic/speaker performance, I am assuming this is because those items are on the bottom of the watch (when the crown is facing ieft), correct? I am wondering if I wear it on the underside of my wrist with the mic/speaker now facing the top (with the crown facing opposite of yours) how that would work. As I rotate my wrist to see the Watch face, it will more naturally be leaning the mic/speaker toward my mouth (with the watch face angled slightly down toward my chin). If I am just working with the watch visually, I could rotate my hand further back, be able to reach the crown on the right side without crossing my right hand over the face of the watch, and also to touch the screen. However, if I am taking a phone call, I could not rotate my hand as much, so I am talking toward the top of the watch and also listening closer to my ear. I literally could almost rest my chin on my left hand and talk and listen within a few inches of my mouth and ear. Much less obvious to others that you are talking on your watch than if you are holding your arm out in front of your face with the watch up toward your mouth. Just seems to me that I will enjoy the watch more without it being so obvious when I am using it. To see it on top of wrist, you have to roll your elbow up away from your body as you raise it toward your face. On the bottom of wrist, you can pivot your left hand away from your face, not move your elbow at all, and have the watch right there.

Have you considered trying it this way? Would appreciate your opinion. This plan for me also helps with another issue - I wear my father’s Rolex on my right wrist as my primary watch, and am hoping to get a Watch band that looks more like a bracelet on my left wrist where I can wear both watches but my Watch is not as visible unless I am using it since the face is on the inside of my wrist.


BTW, I am thinking the Stainless Steel 42mm with the Milanese Loop. This way I get the sapphire crystal and the Milanese Loop would like like a simple bracelet from the top of my wrist with the loop design and the smooth magnetic end looking nice, and access to the watch from underneath as I rotate my wrist away from my body. I hope all of the sensors on the bottom of the Watch work fine from the bottom of my wrist instead of the top.

Bob LeVitus

RonMacGuy: First, the mic and speaker are on the side opposite the crown, which is why wearing it with the crown on the “opposite” side works for me. Wearing it reversed (with the buckle on the top) might be ok, but I would be concerned about the sensors, which monitor stuff in your wrist veins (I think). If you do it, you should try facing the crown both ways and see which one sounds/feels best. I hope that helps.

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