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Rugged Apple Watch Explorer rumors: Everything you need to know

Spigen Apple Watch Rugged Case Hero
Spigen Apple Watch Rugged Case Hero (Image credit: Spigen)

While Apple is almost a shoo-in to release a new flagship Apple Watch every year, 2022 is rumored to be a little different. If those rumors are accurate, a new rugged Apple Watch will join the lineup — here's everything we know about it so far.

It starts with a name

We've been hearing rumors of a new rugged Apple Watch since March 2021 when Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported on its existence. At the time Gurman said that Apple was referring to the product as the "Explorer Edition," and while that might not be what the name is at retail, that's the name they're going with for now.

It definitely sounds cool, right? It's definitely the best Apple Watch name, but whether Apple plans to use it is another matter.

Apple Watch Explorer release date

Rumors for when the new rugged Apple Watch will go on sale haven't been plentiful, but we can make a calculated guess based on when Apple has released its other Apple watches. That would mean that we can probably say that the rugged version of the 2022 Apple Watch will go on sale in or around September/October.

However, note that things could change before that launch. Worldwide component shortages could see Apple change its plans, while it's important to remember that Apple hasn't announced anything at this point — it's possible it could push its rugged Apple Watch to 2023 still.

Apple Watch Explorer models and sizes

Another fact about the rugged Apple Watch that we haven't heard all that much about is the models and sizes. Given the expectation that the wearable will be used in extreme situations, it seems likely a cellular option will be available. People partaking in extreme sports aren't likely to be carrying their iPhone around, for example. Cellular seems a safe bet at this point.

In terms of sizes, this is another interesting one. We've already been told to expect a watch that is impact-resistant and similar to Casio's G-Shock watches. That would likely mean a larger watch in terms of the wearable's chassis, but whether that extends to the display remains to be seen. The Apple Watch Series 8 is expected to top out at 45mm so we can take that as a ballpark figure at the very least. Whether a 41mm option will be included, we'll have to wait and see. Regarding further details about the watches, Gurman said:

If Apple goes ahead this time, the rugged version would be an additional model similar to how Apple offers a lower-cost option called the Apple Watch SE and special editions co-branded with Nike Inc. and Hermes International. Sometimes dubbed the 'Explorer Edition' inside Apple, the product would have the same functionality as a standard Apple Watch but with extra impact-resistance and protection in the vein of Casio's G-Shock watches."

Casio G Shock Watches

Casio G Shock Watches (Image credit: Casio)

Apple Watch Explorer design

This is where Apple Watch Explorer will surely come into its own. If the rumors are correct, the new wearable is designed to be capable of taking a knock or two without suffering any adverse effects like scratches or cracked displays. With that in mind, a stronger look is a given — expect something similar to a current Apple Watch Series 7 but inside with a rugged case, and you're likely to be on the money.

While information is sparse, it seems likely we should expect chunkier bands and an overall rubbery look and feel to help with shock absorption.

In terms of colors, Casio offers its G-Shock in a variety of different colors and we can surely expect something similar from Apple — although perhaps not quite as many.

Apple Watch Explorer chip and connectivity

If Apple really is to release this new rugged Apple Watch alongside Apple Watch Series 8, expect it to sport the same chip — whatever that winds up being called. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman previously claimed the name would be S8, but that it would be similar to previous chips used in older Apple Watches.

As mentioned earlier, a cellular Apple Watch seems like a given, especially considering the use case for this kind of wearable. People are unlikely to want to take their iPhone when enjoying the kinds of sports where a rugged wearable would be required.

Apple Watch Explorer expected price

The price of Apple Watch Explorer will likely greatly depend on whether it has features similar to Apple Watch Series 8 or something else. Apple could decide to make the wearable more specialist, adding sensors and features that are more useful to people enjoying extreme activities. Or it could pare things down, making this a more simplistic experience and actually removing sensors and features as a result. The price of Apple Watch Explorer will very much depend on which approach Apple takes.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

2 Comments
  • According to this article, we literally know *nothing* except what Gurman already said ... in 2021. So ... absolutely *nothing* has happened in terms of this product that we know about for an entire *year*, yet you guys thought it was a good idea to write an article about that complete *lack* of information/action? sounds about right for iMore, lol.
  • Gotta get those clicks lol.