Water Resistant vs Waterproof Watch

Pop quiz: If your watch is marked water-resistant for up to 100m, then you can swim down to 100m without damaging it, right? The answer? You can’t.

While we can all agree that water is the greatest enemy of a watch, understanding water-resistance numbers is still a question to many watch owners, especially those who are just starting.
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Here, we’ll explain what your watch’s water resistance means, if a watch can indeed be waterproof, and what to do to protect your watch from water.
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Omega Seamasterbr

In the watch industry, water resistance means a watch’s ability to withstand water pressure. The depth ratings indicated on your watch, such as 300m/1000ft, is based on standard water resistance classification. These are tested on optimum conditions in a laboratory – such as a still-sitting diver or swimmer at a particular depth – which are very different from real-life situations.

Certain conditions such as diving into a pool, salt water, and hot steam can affect the amount of pressure a watch can handle and push water through its gaskets and into the movement.

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HOW WATER RESISTANT IS YOUR WATCH?

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Most watches use the measure ATM (or atmosphere) that specifies how many meters or feet the watch can be submerged without being damaged. An ATM is equal to 10 meters. It can also sometimes be referred to as BAR, most commonly used in Europe.
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Here’s a guide to how much water your watch can handle:
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Water resistant : if your watch does not mention the ATM, don’t get it wet.
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3 ATM (30 meters / 100 feet) : Everyday use such as washing hands or rain. No showering or swimming.
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5 ATM (50 meters / 165 feet) : Brief periods of showering and swimming. No diving or snorkeling.
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10 ATM (100 meters / 330 feet) : Safe for swimming and snorkeling.
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20 ATM (200 meters / 660 feet) : Safe for high-impact water sports such as jet-skiing, and recreational diving.
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Diver (250-300 meters / 660-1000 feet) : Suitable for scuba diving.
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Rolex Seadwellerbr

The term waterproof connotes that something is not penetrable by moisture and will not leak, but under certain conditions anything can leak. In fact, while the term “waterproof” is often thrown around in talks of watches, it has been discontinued by the Federal Trade Commission from watch labels since the 1960’s.

So the truth is, no watch is waterproof ; there are just varying degrees of water resistance. The Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea, for example, is water-resistant down to 3,900 meters or nearly 13,000 feet but still does not brand itself as waterproof.
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Should you want to get wet with your watch, follow the guide above and always ensure that the crown is properly screwed down, to prevent water from entering your watch. And if you’re not sure, always err on the side of dryness. Better safe than sorry!

 

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