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Watch Water Resistance Guide

About to jump in the pool with you brand spanking new timepiece? Well, it says it’s water resistant to 30m and the pool is only a couple of meters deep so shouldn’t be a problem right? Wrong! Read our guide to watch water resistance and find out exactly what the numbers mean and what else you need to be aware of before entering the water with confidence.

The water resistance figures on a watch relate to the amount of pressure the watch can withstand, rather than the depth it can go down to. A watch with a water resistance rating of 30m can withstand the equivalent pressure of immersion in static water at 30m. However, practically in everyday use outside the controlled conditions of a laboratory are you likely to ever encounter static water? Probably not.

Any movement of a watch in the water or movement of the water itself can significantly increase the pressure the watch is put under. So the acts of swimming, diving (or falling off your jet ski), combined with sea currents, shower jets or the relaxing meander of a lazy river will all have a considerable effect. So, jump in the pool with your watch on your wrist without understanding the implications and you could be looking at a bill of thousands to strip down your watch and restore it to its original condition.

There are a number of factors you need to understand before being able to take a care-free leap into the deep blue. Firstly, consult our infographic below to understand which activities you can reasonably expect to be able to undertake, given the water resistance rating of your watch. From there, read on to make sure your watch can perform to its specifications.

 

watch water resistance infographic

Watch Water Resistance – Other considerations

So you’ve checked your watch water resistance rating, and in according to our guide, your watch is fine to take to for a swim, a shower, or a plunge down into the reef, right? Well, before you take a leap into the blue stuff read the rest of our guide below, there are a number of important factors that could still affect your watch’s ability to perform to the water resistance rating given by the manufacturer.

Servicing

How long have you had your watch? Was it new when you bought it? When was the last time you had your watch serviced? Do you know exactly what that service included? All important questions you must ask yourself before you go below the surface. Over time, the seals & gaskets within your watch suffer exposure to outside elements and begin to deteriorate, having a negative impact on your watch’s water resistance. Things like chlorine, heat, sweat and salt water all take their toll and the majority of manufacturers recommend that these are checked and - if required - replaced annually to ensure there’s no intrusion of water into the case of your watch.

Heat

Whether it’s a nice steaming shower before work, or a relaxing evening in the hot tub, what initially seems like low pressure and therefore low risk environments for you and your timepiece can be the worst place you can take it. Again, the gaskets within your watch can start to expand under warmer conditions and when they start to expand it becomes much easier for water to squeeze in between the gasket and the main case of the watch.

Regular exposure to these conditions can also cause the gasket to lose its shape and – by extension - its ability to keep the water at bay. It’s also worth taking a second thought whilst sitting round the pool on your summer holiday of what the intense heat is doing to our friendly little gaskets before demonstrating your ‘top bombing’ to the kids or just taking a dip to cool off. Heat is a sworn enemy of watch water resistance and can be one of the main reasons water gets too familiar with the inside of your watch, so think twice before taking a chance.

Finally, the switch from hot to cold or cold to hot can also be detrimental. We know some of you like to try and take your watches into the sauna, but think about what effect that’s having on our poor gaskets, especially when you take a dunk in the ice cold plunge pool straight after!

Watch Pushers & Crowns

You’ve just arrived at your holiday destination and adjusted your watch to the new time zone. Time for a swim to cool off and freshen up. Double check your watch crown is fully tightened first. There are some fantastic feats of engineering built into your luxurious timepiece and the crown is no exception, but leaving it even a little undone is like leaving an open door and inviting the water to take residence in your dial. Check it twice, be sure. An expensive bill awaits if you get this wrong.

With your crown fully tightened, you’re ready to take your new watch into the pool. The 100m watch water resistance rating is fine for swimming so off we go. The kids want to see how long they can hold their breath for underwater, and Dad’s new watch has a chronograph to show off, so perfect, let’s time them. Stop right there!

Most watches with Chronographs or with other pusher operated buttons are only watertight whilst the pushers aren’t being operated. As soon as you depress that button, you’re giving a free pathway to any water that wants to run in. Ouch, Dad’s new Daytona is suddenly ready for some recovery time of its own, back with Rolex at Dad’s expense as water damage isn’t covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

Watch Straps

So we’re now confident that our timepiece is watertight and we’re ready to style it out in the water at once with your eye catching wrist wear. Just one more thing to consider, what strap does your watch sit on? Stainless steel, rubber or titanium, then away you go. Leather, calfskin, croc or alligator strap? These straps all deteriorate over time anyway, but submerge them in water for any length of time and you’ll only accelerate this deterioration process. Add saltwater or chlorine to the mix and the breakdown of your watch strap becomes even more rapid. It may not be something that prevents you taking your watch with you whilst bobbing around on a lilo, but you may not want your watch to accompany you whilst demonstrating your bodyboarding skills for a couple of hours in the ocean waves.

And Finally

As you will now be aware, there are a huge number of variations that can affect a watch’s water resistance and the ability it has to keep water out of its inner workings. This article is written as a guide to help you understand the risks involved when you take your timepiece into a wet environment to help you make better decisions that could save you thousands of pounds in restoration fees.

To be on the safe side, we at Global Watch Shop would always recommend you get your watch pressure tested to ensure its ability to repel water at least once a year before taking any chance with water contact. Here’s a summary of the factors you should consider to allow you to step out with confidence with your wrist wear continuing to accompany your evening wear after a long day in the water.

– Check the manufacturer’s water resistance rating and ensure it’s suitable for the activity you plan to undertake.

– Ensure your watch has had a service and that gaskets have been tested to the same standards as the manufacturer’s water resistance rating.

– Do not expose your watch to excessive heat or cold.

– Try not to subject your watch to especially hot or cold conditions, or unusually fast changes in temperature before entering the water.

– Avoid hot water.

– Ensure the crown and any other screw in parts of you watch are fully tightened before exposing to wet conditions.

– Do not operate pushers or buttons in or around water.

– Do not expose your watch to chemicals, especially corrosive ones or water that is highly chlorinated.

– Be aware of the effect of over exposure to saltwater and chlorine over time.

– If in any doubt at all, contact your watch manufacturer for guidance and have your watch pressure tested before any contact with water.