Is it just me or is the display on the SS S4 easier to scratch than the SS S0?

Silver Idaten

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I had an SS S0 and the sapphire display on that is still flawless to this day, or at the very lease appears flawless. I’ve discovered last night that if you rub it hard with your finger and hold up to the light in an exact certain way, it has micro-scratches. I discovered this by complete accident and honestly I think that’s pretty cool, because never once before last night have I ever seen a single scratch on that thing from normal use, and even holding it up to the light you can’t see anything. Only if you really mark the **** out of it and hit the light JUST right.

But for the SS S4 which I got yesterday, the first one had a scratch that was really visible as soon as the light hit it only a few hours after bringing it home. I figured maybe this was a weird defect or something, so I brought it back for another, but sure enough after a couple hours of use on the new one that too has gotten a scratch in the middle. What’s going on here? Is this sapphire (or the coating) easier to scratch on the S4? It’s pretty disappointing because the whole point I got the SS was for the sapphire display which performed above and beyond on the S0, but seems to be just as fragile as the glass on the aluminum on the S4. If I had known that, I would’ve just gotten the aluminum and a Skinomi or something.

It’s definitely a scratch because it doesn’t come out with a microfiber cloth. I know, I know, it’s a watch and scratches from daily use are to be expected, but this is supposed to be the premium model with a scratch resistant sapphire screen with a bar set really high by the S0, and a scratch on Day 1? Come on now.
 
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Newtons Apple

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I’m likely going to because I’m considering the Space Black anyway, I’m just wondering if anyone else has had any personal anecdotes comparing the sapphire on the S4 versus previous models and if it scratches easier.
I have had every SBSS from when the watch was introduced. Have worn them every day and they look like new. No scratches on either the face or body. Space Black DLC coating is awesome!
 

Silver Idaten

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I have had every SBSS from when the watch was introduced. Have worn them every day and they look like new. No scratches on either the face or body. Space Black DLC coating is awesome!
The reason I went for SS is because any scratches that happen on it can be polished out, but I realized on the S0 I never polished it, so I guess that kind of doesn’t matter. I might return this, hold off for a bit and figure out what to do about the screen, and maybe pick up the SB in a few months. It was kind of an impulse purchase anyway, maybe this is a sign. I’m just a bit disappointed that the sapphire screen that was so damn nice and resillient on the S0 seems more scratch prone on the S4, again maybe it’s just me.
 

Newtons Apple

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The reason I went for SS is because any scratches that happen on it can be polished out, but I realized on the S0 I never polished it, so I guess that kind of doesn’t matter. I might return this, hold off for a bit and figure out what to do about the screen, and maybe pick up the SB in a few months. It was kind of an impulse purchase anyway, maybe this is a sign. I’m just a bit disappointed that the sapphire screen that was so damn nice and resillient on the S0 seems more scratch prone on the S4, again maybe it’s just me.
Maybe just bad luck.

Happy New Year!
 

Relentless Power

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I’m likely going to because I’m considering the Space Black anyway, I’m just wondering if anyone else has had any personal anecdotes comparing the sapphire on the S4 versus previous models and if it scratches easier.
Space black owner here, multiple generation Apple Watch(es) with space black and never had a scratch on the display or casing. Sometimes scratches occur on the Oleophobic coating, which can dissipate over the course of time, but it’s very rare that the Sapphire display would scratch, but it all depends what the watch came in contact with the cause the scratch to begin with.
 

Starship67

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I have an aluminum and a stainless series 4 not a scratch on the screen of either one. The SS has micro scratches on the body which is to be expected, the aluminum looks as new not a scratch. I find myself wearing the aluminum way more often and it’s not babied. I came from a series 0 SS micro scratches on the body and none on the screen.
 

Cashmonee

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May 27, 2006
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A sapphire crystal should not scratch without using a very hard object. It is far more likely to shatter than scratch. Coatings can "scratch" and maybe that is what you are experiencing, but a scratch in the crystal should be close to impossible.
 

Silver Idaten

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I ended up returning the watch, no point in paying the premium for the sapphire if it’s just going to get visible scratches anyway with normal use, very disappointing after the S0 lasted as long as it did. I definitely think something must’ve changed along the way. If I’m going to end up putting a Skinomi on it anyway, might as well get the aluminum GPS-only at that point.
 

Relentless Power

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I ended up returning the watch, no point in paying the premium for the sapphire if it’s just going to get visible scratches anyway with normal use.
This is not been the case with my stainless Apple Watch at all (And I have owned six stainless Apple watches) . I have no scratches on the displays whatsoever, which is one of the main reasons why I even purchased the stainless model in the first place was due to the Sapphire display. So whatever you encountered, it’s not likely for everyone else’s scenario either.
 

nepatriot

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Dec 30, 2018
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New to Apple watches: purchaser a series 4 right before Xmas, just out of curiosity. I enjoy mechanicals, divers mostly, and have been buying and flipping for 15 years now. Always viewed Apple watches as fashion watches, like Swatch or Fossil or other mall-store watches for fitness people more than anything. Disposable, not collectables.

I did a lot of searching on SS vs the ALU, and decided to go ALU. Figured since I've owned Apple phones from 2010 and never scratched the glass, and never scratched any of my watch crystals, including Seiko Hardex, the regular glass should be fine for a few years. I'm very careful with watches, except my Gshock.

Looked perfect after a week of daily wear. Then I noticed a scratch right across the face, dead center. I'm not sure if it was an actual scratch into the glass, or just an anti-glare coating.

So back to more searches on the SS sapphire.

Despite my misgivings of the AW4, I found it useful in several ways, and decided to keep it. But returned for a SS and sapphire.

I'm not an expert on materials, nor am I an engineer. I do have 30+ years in marketing for major brands, however. So here's my take on this issue.

First, it has to be sapphire. Apple would be open to serious FTC fines and class actions if it were anything less. And the impact to their reputation and brand proposition would far exceed any direct fines or law suites. Regardless of what many may think about Apple playing loose on things, they would be suicidal foolish to take any risk what so ever with something clear and verifiable as this. Apple would get no passes here: this would drive global headlines, consumer back lash, and Apple would be prosecuted by every country on earth where they sell their products.

Second, it's not some kind of second-rate, pseudo-sapphire. Apple has touted this as sapphire, claiming all the benefits of sapphire, without any qualifications beyond what any watchmaker using sapphire would state. If there were special qualifications, Apple would have somehow included those with their statements. Same as above, their statements are marketing claims, and as such must be accurate and verifiable; they cannot be misleading.

Third, AW sapphire is not used the same way as on a traditional watch. On a traditional watch, the crystal has to be able to absorb a certain amount of force in order to protect the dial and movement inside. It that way, it's an extension of the case, and it's thickness is measured in mm's.

On the AW, the crystal must be much thinner, so as to not impede the touch control of the display beneath. Too thin to absorb much of a hit on its own, like a traditional watch crystal. The display and crystal must be fused together in such a way as to become structurally one component. Otherwise this thin sapphire layer would crack when applying pressure, if there was any flex between the sapphire and display below.

Next, because sapphire has more glare than glass, most watch makers apply anti-reflective coatings, either underweight, on the exterior, or both. I'm guessing Apple if did this, it would have to be on the exterior due to the display beneath. One test suggests there is no AR, but I believe that was not a series 4.

Because there seems to have been comments in the past on glare, perhaps Apple had added some form of AR to the ? I believe on my ALU 4, the scratch was not in the sapphire: it remained perfectly smooth, like the rest of the glass. I have felt sapphire with scratches, and they were noticeable to the touch. Sp perhaps a coating.

I would not expect my AW 4 sapphire SS watch to be as durable as a traditional watch, certainly not compared to ones with thick sapphire. But based all the real life experience from the overwhelming majority of owners, going back to the first models, I think it should hold up considerably better than the glass versions.
 
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Silver Idaten

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Well I guess I just got two bad watches then, because both of my supposedly scratch resistant sapphire watches scratched on Day 1, and my S0 didn’t do that. I just ended up returning it, if I’m going to put a screen protector on anyway I might as well save $400 and get the aluminum.
 
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nepatriot

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Dec 30, 2018
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Well I guess I just got two bad watches then, because both of my supposedly scratch resistant sapphire watches scratched on Day 1, and my S0 didn’t do that. I just ended up returning it, if I’m going to put a screen protector on anyway I might as well save $400 and get the aluminum.
Perhaps so. Or perhaps both of your new 4's each took one of those 1-in-a-million hits on day 1, that your 0 never encountered over the course of time you owned it. Luck often plays a role. Sometimes lighting can strike twice in the same spot.

I've been driving over 40 years now, and up until about 20 years ago never had a speeding ticket. Half-dozen warnings, but never a ticket. The one day, in the span of less than 1 hour, I got 2. None since.

Maybe there is an AR coating in the new 4's, and that's what scratched?
 
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Relentless Power

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Well I guess I just got two bad watches then, because both of my supposedly scratch resistant sapphire watches scratched on Day 1, and my S0 didn’t do that. I just ended up returning it, if I’m going to put a screen protector on anyway I might as well save $400 and get the aluminum.
The Ion-X Glass is obviously less durable than the sapphire display, my suggestion either way, is take advantage of a screen protector, unless you can look past micro scratches or any other type of inadvertent damage to a watch display, it’s just inevitable being how much contact our wrists manage on a daily basis.
 

Silver Idaten

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The Ion-X Glass is obviously less durable than the sapphire display, my suggestion either way, is take advantage of a screen protector, unless you can look past micro scratches or any other type of inadvertent damage to a watch display, it’s just inevitable being how much contact our wrists manage on a daily basis.
Oh yeah, I put on one of those crappy Skinomi protectors (poorly) as a temporary one, I’m waiting on the Armorsuit which looks a little better as a more longer term one until my Zagg glass comes in in the middle of the month.

The way I see it, if I’m putting one on either way, there’s no point in getting the more expensive steel one because I’m fine with aluminum for right now, it’s lighter, I’m not forced to buy the cellular, and it saves me $400 for what’s otherwise the same exact watch internally.
 

mdhaus72

macrumors newbie
Dec 29, 2018
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Well I guess I just got two bad watches then, because both of my supposedly scratch resistant sapphire watches scratched on Day 1, and my S0 didn’t do that. I just ended up returning it, if I’m going to put a screen protector on anyway I might as well save $400 and get the aluminum.
The bottom line is this: About the only thing that can easily scratch the sapphire surface of the stainless steel Apple watches (including Series 4) is another item with DLC coating. Unless you are running that or diamonds across the screen, everything else is going to be softer in hardness and will not damage it.

I find it a little hard to believe that nobody else is having this problem and yet you supposedly have had two screens "scratch easily."
 

Silver Idaten

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The bottom line is this: About the only thing that can easily scratch the sapphire surface of the stainless steel Apple watches (including Series 4) is another item with DLC coating. Unless you are running that or diamonds across the screen, everything else is going to be softer in hardness and will not damage it.

I find it a little hard to believe that nobody else is having this problem and yet you supposedly have had two screens "scratch easily."
Okay, well good for everyone else. I had two sapphire watches that both scratched from normal use, and I could see it just from having my kitchen light on. The S0 didn’t do that after three years of ownership. The store display models are the same way, the S4s by me are all beat and scratched, but I remember when the S0 was on display the sapphires looked flawless.
 

mdhaus72

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Dec 29, 2018
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Okay, well good for everyone else. I had two sapphire watches that both scratched from normal use, and I could see it just from having my kitchen light on. The S0 didn’t do that after three years of ownership. The store display models are the same way, the S4s by me are all beat and scratched, but I remember when the S0 was on display the sapphires looked flawless.
If you had two separate stainless steel sapphire crystal watches that "scratched from normal use," then you need to seriously evaluate what your concept of "normal use" is. As I said, they won't scratch from normal wear and tear...ONLY if they are contacted with something that is harder then the sapphire material. And if you don't have diamonds laying around (or another item on the watch like the milanese bands that have a DLC coating), then the supposed "damage" is not from normal use.

I was just at two Apple stores yesterday looking at bands as a potential gift for a friend and I handled probably 30-40 demo watches in that time while looking at and trying band combinations. None of the stainless steel watches had any damage of any kind to their screens. Several of the aluminum watch screens were indeed a mess. These things get man-handled throughout the day and if any are going to show some inherent flaws, it's those watches.
 
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yui4

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In fairness, the SS demo models in my local Apple store did have fine scratches which was attributed to the oleophobic coating rather than the glass itself, but still didn’t look too good regardless of what the cause was.
 

Relentless Power

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In fairness, the SS demo models in my local Apple store did have fine scratches which was attributed to the oleophobic coating rather than the glass itself, but still didn’t look too good regardless of what the cause was.
Just an FYI, those demo models are sometimes _intentionally_ scratched by customers to see how durable the displays are. Someone could have easily used a sharp object in nature to scratch the display, besides being handled by thousands of hands. I wouldn’t compare a demo model to the sapphire display on the stainless model to real world usage.
 
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yui4

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Just an FYI, those demo models are sometimes _intentionally_ scratched by customers to see how durable the displays are. Someone could have easily used a sharp object in nature to scratch the display, besides being handled by thousands of hands. I wouldn’t compare a demo model to the sapphire display on the stainless model to real world usage.
Have you found the oleophobic coating to be as resistant to scratching?

My concern would be if somebody buys the sapphire because it doesn’t scratch easy, yet the coating does. The look of the watch will still be impaired if that is the case
 

nepatriot

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Dec 30, 2018
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Okay, well good for everyone else. I had two sapphire watches that both scratched from normal use, and I could see it just from having my kitchen light on. The S0 didn’t do that after three years of ownership. The store display models are the same way, the S4s by me are all beat and scratched, but I remember when the S0 was on display the sapphires looked flawless.
As others have pointed out, are the scratches in the oleophobic coating rather than the sapphire? Perhaps series 0 didn't have an oleophobic coating? I recall reading about glare on earlier AW versions, so did Apple add coatings later?
 

yui4

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May 26, 2011
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As others have pointed out, are the scratches in the oleophobic coating rather than the sapphire? Perhaps series 0 didn't have an oleophobic coating? I recall reading about glare on earlier AW versions, so did Apple add coatings later?
Even if It’s the oleophobic coating though is still not very good cosmetically. It’s not like u can renew the coating so for all intent and purposes the watch looks scratched.