Catalyst has been my go-to case company for the past three years. Known for amazing waterproof 360-degree protection, they have expanded their line into non-waterproof Impact Protection. Debuting at Pepcom Digital Experience in San Francisco, Catalyst has introduced the Impact Protection case for Apple Watch Gen 2 and Gen 3. The 0.1-ounce impact protection case is available today in Stealth Black, Coral, Army Green and the Blueridge/Sunset (reviewed product). You can think of this product like the little brother of the 165-foot waterproof IP68, 6.6-foot drop resistant Catalyst Waterproof Shock Resistant Case for Apple Watch. Catalyst wanted to provide a minimalistic, stylish, yet super-protective case for your smartwatch. I enjoyed the Waterproof case on my Apple Watch Gen 1 and when I purchased the Gen 3, I hurriedly found a Catalyst case for my new watch. I loved the look, the feel, the weight and the feeling of protection that the case provided to my watch. I was amazed at how many people asked me what kind of watch I was wearing and then did not believe it was an Apple Watch. At 2.1 ounces, the watch/case was hardly noticeable and went with me everywhere. I found I was less likely to need the Waterproof feature and more likely to experience a drop/fall or strike to the watch. The Impact Protection case allowed me to enjoy the same amazing digital crown button and bezel protection as the Waterproof case but I was able to gain an added 3 feet of drop protection (9.9 ft/3meter).
One of the things that I really appreciate about Catalyst, beyond their outstanding products, is their stylistic approach to product packaging. In fact, their Apple AirPod case was named as a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree and their product line won the World-Renowned iF Design award. The Catalyst Impact Protection Apple Watch 42mm case enjoyed the same focus on design as the other Catalyst gear, arriving in a stylish 3 1/8 inches wide by 4 7/8 inches tall by 3/4 inches thick retail package. The cover artistically utilized a top-down, dark-to-light gradient, which captured the essence of a sunrise. The use of bright white font for the Catalyst title/logo and bright yellow for “Apple Watch 42mm” and “Drop Proof” starkly contrasted the darker black background. Along the bottom of the cover, Catalyst included three icons that detailed the 9.9-foot drop proof nature (3 meter), Impact Truss System, and the Feather Lightweight 5 gram weight. The main image along the cover provided a lifelike representation of your Apple Watch, with surrounding blue/orange impact case. The screen of the watch showed a female running along a trail with a beautiful background and an image of a bright sun towards the left. The image on the screen of the watch played beautifully with the gradient of the cover. Each aspect of the cover added to the overall Catalyst ambiance. The attractive cover was definitely easy on the eyes.
The back cover of the packaging utilized one of my favorite forms of packaging, a clear plastic window. Being able to directly visualize the case, you can fully appreciate what you are getting. For example, the blue and orange colors displayed on the cover appeared lighter than the actual blue of the impact case. To the side of the window, you can see an exploded diagram, detailing the dual-layer bezel protection. The right side panel of the packaging showed an image of the side of the watch, detailing the direct connect buttons. The left side was rather bland, providing icons for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and #CatalystCase and a multi-lingual warning “that this product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause birth defects or reproductive harm. To access the case, remove the tabs along the upper back of the packaging and slide the thin black tray out of the box. To install the watch cover, simply slide the digital crown button over the crown button of the watch and then clip the cover over your watch. The installation process could not have been simpler.
The case measured 1 13/16 inches wide from side to crown button, 1 7/8 inches tall, 1/2 inches thick and slid easily over my watch. Along the bottom and top bezels, you will notice a black 5/8 inches tall by 15/16 inches wide rectangle. The lower bezel proudly displayed an attractive etched “catalyst,” and the upper rectangle was blank. The orange accents located on the side button and crown button provided a refreshing visual contrast to the blueridge coloration. The case wrapped around the side bezels of the watch and provided a good grip on the watch horizontally. The upper and lower edges skirted the watch band ports on the Apple Watch. Many of the covers that I have used, split and encase the band ports. I do not feel that this was a negative for the Catalyst case, but this may increase the chances that the case will pop off of the watch. To remove the case, simply provide a small amount of upward and leftward lift on the left of the watch. The curve around the bezel added to the staying power of the case and did improve the grip. Visually appealing and protective, the case sits above the screen about 1/16 of an inch and strives to reduce glancing and direct blows to the screen. After 1 week of use, the case has not shown any signs of wear, has remained affixed to my watch and my watch remained fully intact. The crown button and side buttons were responsive and the screen was fully accessible. One more interesting point that I discovered was that occasionally I would awaken to a partially charged watch with the Waterproof case. It seemed that occasionally, the silicone would block the charging port. I did not experience this phenomenon with the Impact Case as the unadorned backing slid perfectly into the charger. Over the past week, I have not experienced the problem like I have occasionally found with the waterproof case.
It is important to note that the Impact Protection Case does not come with a watch band. Instead, you can either use the stock band that came with your watch or you can expand into any number of other watch band options. Luckily Catalyst also released the Sport Band for Apple Watch in Stealth Black, Space Gray, Blueridge/Sunset and Army Green. The Blueridge/Sunset color matched the case perfectly and matched the feeling of the Impact Case. Combined with the Impact case and the sport strap, the watch weighed 0.4 ounces less than the Waterproof case at 1.7 ounces. It was amazing to find that you can gain 3 feet of protection in a device that weighed less than its waterproof big brother. IF you have a Generation 2 or Generation 3 Apple Watch, you need this case!