Monday, October 17, 2011

Tech Talk No. 5: Water Resistance Explained

How Water Resistant Is Your Watch?

This is in fact a very confusing issue to many, and a question that is often asked. Every time it is asked, a seemingly different answer is given. So, to clear all confusion and marketing speak/ hype, here is the definitive answer to the question, which you can use as a guide to work out whether or not you can swim with your watch.

There are many different terms used by various watch companies to indicate water resistance rating - 5 ATM, 5 BAR, WR50, 50m…etc etc...They all mean the same thing.

One thing that must be kept in mind is that "water resistant" does not mean "waterproof".

A watch is never waterproof, according to the US Federal Trade Commission : "The word proof connotes a measure of absolute protection that unfortunately does not exist with respect to watches, especially over prolonged periods of time."

Also, 50 metres water resistant does NOT mean your watch will resist water at a depth of 50 metres.

Pretty much ALL watch companies recommend getting watch seals checked every 12-18 months if you plan to use your dive watch for actual dives (as opposed to desk dives), as the seals are what's keeping the water out of your watch, and seals DO degrade over time and lose their effectiveness.

And remember, DON'T wear your watch in the shower. Why the heck would you do that? To time your shower in order to save money? Unless you like taking cold showers, take off your damn watch!

30m to 50m

Generally speaking, the depth rating on watches are a measure of atmospheric pressure and not actual depth of water. This means that if you see 30m or 50m, it's only really splash proof, meaning if you get splashes of water on the watch from the rain or from washing your hands, it's still ok. If you're rinsing your hands under the tap for extended period of time, take off the watch. Don't swim with the watch on. Note that there is an exception: Swatch watches are rated to 50m and they guarantee you can swim with them, probably due to the way they're constructed - i.e. a one-piece case.

50m to 100m

I still wouldn't swim with this watch on. It is likely that the watch won't have a screw-in crown. That means there is always the possibility of water getting through the most minute of spaces.

100m to 200m

If the watch is rated to 100m, and has a screw-in crown, then it is safe to swim with it. However, keep in mind that it is the pressure of water on the watch, so if you dive into the water, that will exert extra pressure/stress on the watch/ seal/ gasket. So, just to be on the safe side… However, as some of our more astute readers have picked up, there are other different types of crowns that will also be water resistance. For example the push-in crowns like on Panerais.

200m -300m

You'd probably be okay with the watch on for pretty much all water activity, unless you're a professional diver, in which case, you probably have a Rolex Submariner/ Sea Dweller or a Citzen Promaster already. One thing that doesn't come up often, but should, is that if you do plan to dive with your expensive $10,000 Swiss dive watch, make sure it comes with a double safety clasp, or something that has a fail safe in place i.e. if one fails, the watch will still stay on your wrist. So those "basic" Rolex clasps - the ones that go under and over, are probably also the safest, and withanything with a push button, single/ double folding clasp, the chance you might lose the watch is much higher.

300m +

Let's just say… the watch will still be ticking, even when you aren't…

So, here a few simple rules to live by. Keep these, and you won't find yourself with a fogged up watch, rusty movement, and an overhaul cost that's equal to getting a new watch :

1. DON'T wear your watch in the shower
2. If it DOESN'T have a screw-down crown of some sort, assume the watch is NOT water resistant. Unless of course the watch is rated to 100m and up, and/or it has some other type of water resistance protection on the crown...(push in, lever, compression key, etc)
3. Check your crown is screwed down before immersion. (or whatever protection it has is "on")
4. Don't unscrew the crown whilst in water, etc etc...
5. Have the seals checked regularly if you DO wear your watch in the ocean, in the pool etc.
6. Always rinse your watch thoroughly after it's been in the ocean/pool (chlorine, salt = enemies of seals).
7. Don't subject the watch to chemicals such as perfume (again, not good for the seals).



initialjh said...

thanks for your writing and love your humorous side remarks ! :)

Anonymous said...

Excellent post with good advice!
Does your point 7 mean that one should remove one's watch when getting up close and personal with wife / girlfriend / lover or whatever, if the lady in question is wearing perfume?