WATER RESISTANCE OF WATCHES
“Water resistant” is used to describe the ability of a watch to withstand water pressure to a stated depth/water pressure. Water resistance is a common feature of most watches, but there is a lot more to it than most people are aware of. Whether you are a swimming enthusiast, never take your watch off, or just curious about water resistance. Our advice and recommendations are to help you keep your watch safe and protected for years to come.
• Waterproof vs Water Resistant
• Swimming, Showering & Bathing
• Water Resistance Testing
• Battery Replacement and Water Resistance
• What Water Resistance Really Means
WATERPROOF VS WATER RESISTANT
What does it mean for a watch to be “waterproof?”
No watch is waterproof. There is always a limit to how much water pressure a watch can handle. The term “waterproof” implies that a watch can’t leak under any circumstance. However, under certain circumstances anything can leak. Therefore, in the watch industry, we refer to a watch’s ability to withstand water pressure as “water resistance”.
SWIMMING, SHOWERING & BATHING
What should I do if I accidentally go swimming with my watch?
One drop of water inside the watch can do major damage. Bring your watch as soon as possible to a watch repair service to have it opened and dried, before having the possible water damage assessed.
At home, the first thing you can do is place the watch on a warm surface or even on top of a radiator to warm up the back. This will move the moisture away from the delicate movement.
Can I shower or bathe with my watch on?
It is strongly recommended not to shower or bathe with your watch on.
Water temperatures in a hot bath or a hot shower can change the shape of the gasket seals which can effect the water resistance.
Shampoo, soaps and other liquids are highly corrosive to the delicate components of the watch and will wear it out much sooner. If you accidentally expose your watch to soap, you should rinse it off with fresh water and dry it as quickly as possible.
Here are some tips for protecting your watch in water:
• Never turn the bezel, adjust the crown, or push any buttons while underwater as this will break the seal of the gasket, leaving the watch open for water to enter.
• Always check to make sure the crown is properly pushed in or screwed down to ensure that the gasket is fully sealed.
My watch says it’s water resistant up to 100 meters; can I dive into the pool wearing it?
Diving into a pool causes an immediate change in pressure – even though it only lasts for a few seconds – and can cause a major shock to a watch that is not meant for diving. Water resistance is all about pressure; the moment you hit the water, there is an immediate shift in pressure, which forces the watch to go above its recommended water resistance level. Diving into the pool multiple times (and smacking the water’s surface each time) will eventually push the amount of pressure applied to the watch over its limit, at which point water will be forced through the gaskets and into the movement.
WATER RESISTANCE TESTING
Water is the biggest enemy of a watch. If you go swimming you should have your watch checked for an accurate pressure test of its water resistance levels every year. Watch gaskets form seals around the stem of the crown & pushers and sit inside the case and the glass. Over time, they can dry out and lose elasticity and the ability to form a proper seal. This explains why regular testing is so important for maintaining the water resistance of a watch.
How often should I have my watch tested?
We suggest having a watch pressure tested at least once a year, but much of this depends on your lifestyle. For example, a person who swims regularly or going in and out of salt water and in and out of sandy places – should have the watch tested a few times a year. Salt water especially causes a lot of corrosion and wear & tear on all parts of the watch, which ultimately causes the water resistance level of the watch to drop over time.
Battery Replacement and Water Resistance
It’s advised to have your watch battery changed as soon as possible after the watch stopped working. Empty batteries can leak and can cause serious damage to your timepiece.
To make sure your watch is still water resistant after a battery change it is highly recommended to have the watch pressure tested.
WHAT WATER RESISTANCE REALLY MEANS
If your watch doesn’t say “Water Resistant”, treat it as if it’s a piece of paper.
A watch just stamped “Water Resistant” means that it is humidity-protected. It can endure a bit of water splashes from washing your hands or rain, but not suitable for swimming.
Water Resistant 30 Meters / 3 ATM / 3 Bar
If your watch claims to be water resistant to 30 meters, it actually means it’s just splash resistant. It does NOT mean the watch will be fine if you bring it 30 meters below sea level or use it in the shower, bath or swimming pool.
Water Resistant 50 Meters / 5 ATM / 5 Bar
With a watch stating 50 meters of water resistance you are allowed to swim with. However, you should minimise exposure to the water and probably still take it off. And by no means whatsoever should you dive into the water with your watch.
Water Resistant 100 Meters / 10 ATM / 10 Bar
This is snorkelling territory. A watch with 100 meters of water resistance has no problem hanging out in the water for a while. Scuba diving, however, should be out of the question.
Water Resistant 200 Meters / 20 ATM / 20 Bar
Though it might seem like it, this actually isn’t dive watch territory. While 200 meters seems to be scuba dive ready, even down to 10 meters, it’s probably best not to risk it. But by all means, swimming is fine, but only push the buttons with your watch above water.
Water Resistant 300 Meters / 30 ATM / 30 Bar
This is the dive watch territory, even though it hasn’t been certified to the ISO 6425 standard.
Diver’s or ISO 6425
If your watch has “ISO 6425” or “Divers” and then a depth number written on the dial or case, you’ve got a watch designed for diving. This ISO standard means the watch is guaranteed by the manufacturer to handle depths of at least 100 meters (if no number is given) as well as an extra 25 percent of the given depth if the water is completely static. Additionally, watches that measure up to this standard have significant shock, magnetic, and salt water tolerance, and provide an indication that it’s running in total darkness.