Image source: Garmin

Is sapphire glass worth it for your next smartwatch?

Should you splurge on a sapphire glass smartwatch? This premium material is renowned for its exceptional scratch resistance. In this article I explore what sapphire glass is, how it stacks up against alternatives, and whether it justifies the higher price tag, using Garmin watches as a case in point.

What is sapphire glass?

Sapphire glass is a synthetic material crafted from crystallized aluminum oxide. Its incredible hardness and scratch-resistance make it second only to diamond on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. This toughness renders it a great choice for watch faces, as it can withstand a beating far better than traditional glass or even more advanced materials such as Gorilla Glass.

The main competitors to sapphire glass in smartwatches are Gorilla Glass and standard mineral glass. While these materials are less expensive, they’re also more prone to scratches and cracks.

Gorilla Glass, developed by Corning, is a type of strengthened glass widely used in smartphones and some smartwatches. It offers improved scratch resistance over regular glass but still falls short of sapphire’s durability. Mineral glass, the most common and least expensive option, is more susceptible to scratches but can sometimes be polished if damaged.

The Garmin example

Garmin offers many of its high-end models with sapphire glass options. The Fenix line, in particular, has garnered a reputation for durability among fitness buffs. Reports from long-term Garmin timepiece owners often highlight the remarkable resilience of sapphire screens. Watches with sapphire glass can be exposed to rough conditions, including rock climbing and factory work, and the screen will remain pristine after several years of use.

This longevity is a recurring theme among those who opt for sapphire glass in their wearables. Some have noticed that even though the bezel on their watch shows signs of wear, the sapphire crystal remained in perfect condition.

However, having sapphire glass on your watch does not guarantee it is immune against scratches. These things can still happen. But less often than with other options.

While Garmin serves as a prominent example, other smartwatch manufacturers also offer sapphire glass options. Apple includes sapphire crystal in high-end versions of the Apple Watch. Luxury smartwatch maker TAG Heuer frequently employs sapphire glass in their designs.

Is the extra cost worth it?

The price difference for sapphire glass can be significant. For Garmin, this is often around $80-$100 more than the standard glass version. However, this cost can be justified for several reasons.

The longevity of sapphire glass watches tends to be greater, potentially extending the usable life of the device. Due to their durability, these watches often retain their value better when it’s time to upgrade. Particularly if you are attempting to sell your old device “as new”.

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Plus, many users appreciate not having to worry about scratching their watch during everyday activities or sports. And let’s not forget, the need for screen protectors. This may be an additional expense and hassle for standard glass watches that is eliminated with sapphire.

Despite the clear benefits, there are potential drawbacks to consider. Some report that sapphire glass can produce more glare than other materials, although this isn’t a universal experience. In some cases, sapphire glass may slightly reduce the brightness of the display. The higher initial cost remains a barrier for some consumers.

So what’s the bottom line?

For those leading active lifestyles or simply desiring a watch that can withstand the rigors of daily life without showing wear, sapphire glass offers significant advantages. Particularly if they plan to hold on the their smartwatch for several years. While the initial cost is higher, the long-term durability and peace of mind may justify the expense. However, individuals who are gentler with their devices or upgrade frequently might find standard glass with a screen protector sufficient.

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Ivan Jovin

Ivan has been a tech journalist for over 7 years now, covering all kinds of technology issues. He is the guy who gets to dive deep into the latest wearable tech news.

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