For many watch collectors, the water resistance is one of the most important elements to consider when selecting a new timepiece. The water resistance rating of a watch will affect how and when it can be worn and how much care it will require. Different watches are suited to different lifestyles, and a collector will need to assess how they intend to wear their new watch before selecting an appropriate water resistance rating to search for. Water resistance ratings can be confusing, and often misleading, so if you are searching for some clarity on what the water resistance rating of a watch actually means, keep reading for a guide to watch water resistance.
What is Watch Water Resistance?
Watch water resistance refers to how well a watch will cope when it is exposed to water. However, the depth rating that is used to measure water resistance does not refer directly to how deep in the water a watch will be able to go. The depth rating actually signifies the results of a static pressure test that is held in a laboratory. The results of this test have fairly accurate real-life application, but the depth rating does not strictly mean that a watch can safely be worn to that depth.
The water resistance of a watch is normally expressed in metres, bar, or atmospheres. One bar equates to around 10 metres, so it is easy to convert the units. Atmospheres (often shown aa ATM) and bar are both units of pressure. They are approximately equal and are often used interchangeably.
What do the Different Levels of Water Resistance Mean?
It is important to know what the water resistance rating of a watch means before wearing it for an activity that may cause it damage. The water resistance of a watch can often be found written on the dial or case back. However, if there is any uncertainty surrounding the rating of a watch, it is always best to check with the manufacturer.
Some watch brands list their watches as being waterproof. This is not strictly true as it would imply that no amount of pressure will cause water to enter the watch. Every watch will have a limit. If a watch is said to be waterproof, it will likely just have a high level of water resistance.
If a watch is said to be simply ‘water resistant’, it is likely that it is resistant to very small amounts of water. It will be safe to wear these watches in small rain showers as they should be able to withstand accidental splashes of water. Watches with this rating should not be submerged in water.
30 metres (3 bar/3ATM)
A watch with a water resistance rating of up to 30 metres (3 bar/3ATM) can withstand small accidental splashes. It will be very similar to a watch that is said to be simply ‘water resistant’. Some watches that are water resistant to 3 bar can be worn in the shower if they have recently been resealed, but it is always best to check with the manufacturer.
50 metres (5 bar/5ATM)
A water resistance rating of 50 metres means that the watch will be resilient to splashes, showers and some light swimming. It is advisable to avoid sudden pressure changes, so watches with this rating should not be worn for any kind of diving activities.
100 metres (10 bar/10ATM)
Watches that are listed as having a water resistance rating of up to 100 metres are suitable for swimming and snorkelling. A watch with this rating will be very resilient to daily life and can be worn for showering and handwashing without any fear of damaging the watch.
200 metres (20 bar/20ATM)
This is considered a rather high water resistance rating for a watch. Timepieces with a water resistance rating of up to 20 bar can be worn for swimming, high-impact waters sports and scuba diving. A watch with this rating would be perfect for avid swimmers and surfers.
300 metres (30 bar/30ATM)
A watch that is said to be water resistant up to 300 metres can be worn for all high-impact water sports. It could also be worn for scuba diving and saturation diving. This high level of water resistance is perfect for someone who loves water-based adventure with their wristwatch as a reliable companion.
Tips for Maintaining the Water Resistance of a Watch
- To ensure that the water resistance rating is maintained, and the watch properly looked after, the watch should be tested by the manufacturer. It is often recommended that the water resistance of a watch be tested annually, but it may be worth testing more frequently if the timepiece is often pushed to the limits.
- Water resistance ratings rely on the seals being intact. These seals can be damaged or disturbed when the battery is replaced. For this reason, it is advisable to have the battery in the watch replaced by the manufacturer in order to be confident that the seals have not been compromised by the process.
- Whilst the watch itself may be water resistant, the same is not necessarily true for the strap. Care should be taken when selecting a strap to ensure that it can withstand contact to water.
- If a watch is worn when swimming in salt water, it may be necessary to rinse the watch in fresh water afterwards, Salt water can be corrosive and could cause damage to the case of the watch. Rinsing with fresh water should clean the watch of salt and prevent corrosion.
Water Resistant Watch Recommendations
The Rado Captain Cook collection is part of the brand’s Tradition collection which is inspired by designs from the 1950s and 1960s. This gives the watches a traditional vintage design, but Rado have ensured to add a contemporary twist. This watch uses the classic Captain Cook design with the addition of high-tech ceramic which is one of watchmaking’s newest and most technologically advanced materials.
This watch has a skeleton dial that is protected by black tinted sapphire crystal that is treated with an anti-reflective coating. The dial exhibits large luminescent indices and rhodium plated hands. The dial is surrounded by a ridged stainless steel bezel that features a high-tech ceramic insert. A black high-tech ceramic case houses an automatic movement of the calibre R734 which gives the watch a power reserve of up to 80 hours. This model is water resistant up to 300 metres (30 bar), so it can be worn for a wide range of swimming and diving activities. The watch is finished with a black rubber strap that fastens with a stainless steel extendable folding clasp. The rubber strap will ensure for comfortable wear when worn in the water.
Squale MATIC LIGHT BLUE LEATHER | Automatic | Blue Dial | Brown Leather Strap MATICXSE.PTC-CINU1565CM
This Squale model will be eye-catching on the wrist due to its bold blue dial. The dial exhibits silver baton indices and a date aperture in the 3 o’clock position. The hour hand is silver, and the minute hand is orange, ensuring that the dial is easy to read at a glance. The watch is powered by an automatic ETA 2824-2 movement which is housed in the polished stainless steel case. The case measures 44mm in diameter. A light blue and white unidirectional rotating bezel surrounds the dial, giving the watch additional functionality as a diving watch. This model features a screw-in crown and case back to aid with the water resistance rating, allowing the watch to be water resistant up to 60 ATMOS. This watch is secured on the wrist with a classic light brown leather strap that fastens with a pin buckle.
The Longines Legend Diver watch is a relaunch of a model that the brand produced in 1960. Longines have made use of the original design and have powered it with a modern mechanism to ensure for a better performance. This watch has a blue gradient dial with clear indices and hands and a date aperture at 3 o’clock. The watch exhibits an internal diving flange with domed sapphire crystal protecting the dial. This model is powered by an automatic L888 self-winding mechanical movement. It beats at 25,200 vibrations per hour and gives the watch a power reserve of up to 72 hours. A stainless steel case frames the dial and measures 42mm in diameter and 12.7mm in thickness to provide a comfortable fit on the wrist. The watch is finished with a brown leather strap that fastens with a pin buckle. This model is water resistant up to 300 metres (30 bar), making it the perfect model for water sports enthusiasts.
Alsta are famous for their long history of producing diver’s watches. The brand rose to fame when the Superautomatic was worn by Richard Dreyfuss in the movie Jaws. Alsta have managed to maintain the iconic design of the original Superautomatic model but have updated it with modern technologies to ensure for high performance.
This model is a limited edition with only 1975 pieces having been made. This makes it a highly desirable collector’s item. The watch has a black dial with luminescent hands and indices to ensure that the dial can be read in the dark and underwater. Sapphire crystal protects the dial and a satin-finished stainless steel case frames it. The 38mm case houses a Seiko NH35A automatic movement. The screw-in crown aids in the water resistance rating of up to 300 metres (30 bar). This rating allows the watch to be worn for a variety of swimming and diving activities. This model is secured on the wrist with a stainless steel porthole bracelet.
This Oris watch features a black dial with large luminescent indices and hands. The dial is surrounded by a black ceramic bezel and protected by anti-reflective sapphire glass. An automatic movement is housed in the stainless steel case. The movement gives the watch a power reserve of up to 38 hours. This watch is unusual due to its unique feature of the Aquis Depth Gauge. This gauge allows water to enter through a small hole into a milled channel around the sapphire crystal. There is a watermark to clearly indicate the depth at which the diver is. This model is precisely engineered for diving, meaning that it is water resistant up to 500 metres (50 bar). This watch is finished with a stainless steel bracelet that fastens with a security folding clasp with an extension to ensure it can be made to fit a range of wrist sizes.
What are your thoughts on our guide to watch water resistance? Will you be adding a water resistant watch to your collection? Let us know in the comments below!