Water Resistant 50 Meters – What Does it Mean?

The topic of today’s article is what it means when a watch is water resistant 50 meters. There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to water resistance. Even the manufacturer labels about the alleged water resistance of a product are open to interpretation.

Here, we are going to clear all of that up and thoroughly explain a 50 meter water resistance. You will learn how that is defined, how it applies, and why it is relevant. To begin, we will start with the simplest, most basic explanation of this. Simply put, a watch that is water resistant 50 meters can be worn 50 meters (or 164 feet) underwater.

So, in theory at least, a watch that has a water resistance of 50 meters can be worn 50 meters underwater. Is this really true as far as practical explanations go? Well, it turns out, as you will soon see, that this is not necessarily the case!

As a side note, also know that there can be other terminology used to describe a 50 meter water resistance. You may see terms like 5ATM, or 5 Bar. These terms effectively mean the same thing when referring to a 50 meter water resistance in a watch.

Moving forward, we’ll explain what you can actually do with a 50 meter water resistant watch when it comes to aquatic activities. First though, we are going to explain how that 50 meter water resistant label is obtained.

How Does a Watch Get a 50 Meter Water Resistance Rating

50 meter water resistant test

The reason why a watch can or cannot be worn in the water depends on its water resistance rating. The majority of watches can’t even really be worn in the water at the listed depths. The reason for this is the way in which that water resistance label is obtained.

Methods of Testing

There are really 3 main ways a watch is tested for water resistance. Watches these days are tested through submersion in water, being sprayed with water jets, or by way of compressed air.

When a watch is fully submerged in water for the test, it is put completely into the water at the depth it is rated for.

In the case of water jets, the watch is sprayed with water jets that have a force equivalent to the depth it is rated for.

Finally, when compressed air is used, the watch is put into a chamber where compressed air exerts a force on the watch equal to what it is rated for.

The problem is that these methods can only verify that the watch can handle a certain amount of resistance. But this doesn’t always account for the length of time it can handle such pressure, nor any additional pressure a watch may receive.

Using 50 meters as an example. It is one thing for a watch to be underwater for 50 meters. However, the act of swimming will put additional pressure on the watch while at that depth. The force of the movement through the water will create greater pressure.

For these types of reasons, a watch’s water resistance rating is not a guarantee that it can be worn at the listed depth. Certified diving watches would be the exception. If a watch is labeled a diver’s watch, then it is guaranteed to have met strict requirements for its water resistance rating and can therefore be trusted.

This brings us to our next point. How much water resistance does a watch with a 50 meter water resistance really have if it can’t or shouldn’t actually be worn at that depth?

Practical Applications of a Watch Water Resistant 50 Meters

practical use of 50 meter water resistance

So, it may not be safe for a watch that is water resistant 50 meters to actually be worn at 50 meters. What can you actually do with it then? You’ll get different answers depending on who you ask.

We’re going to say that a 50 meter water resistance rating should generally be good for splashes of water, rain, and showering. A little sweat getting on it should be fine also. You can even go swimming with it at a surface level, but you shouldn’t go underwater with it on. Here are some general guidelines about water resistance in watches.

  • 3-5 ATM: Can withstand splashes of water, rain, and maybe even showering, but shouldn’t be fully submerged in water.
  • 10 ATM: Can handle swimming, snorkeling, and maybe even scuba diving.
  • 20 ATM: Can handle deep diving.
  • 30 ATM and up: Suitable for professional diving, or saturation diving.

So, why do watch manufacturers intentionally misrepresent water resistance? Well, it is pretty much a sales tactic. These labels are for your eyes to see and believe one thing. Technically, the watch could theoretically be worn at the listed depth. It’s just that it wouldn’t be very practical to do so.

These types of sales tactics are not new. It is like when something is labeled $24.99 vs $25.00. Your eyes deceive you into believing you are getting something for a whole dollar less.

However, in the case of water resistance, without the knowledge of the true water resistance of a watch, it is borderline false advertising. However, there is just enough truth in the advertised water resistance for companies to get by.


Now you should have a pretty thorough understanding of what it really means when a watch is rated to be water resistant 50 meters. Hopefully any confusion about the issue has been dealt with, and all of your questions about the topic have been answered.

Understanding the true meaning of terminology used in watches, especially when it comes to water resistance is going to be important. After all, you don’t want to buy a brand new watch and ruin it in the water because you didn’t fully understand how water resistant it was!

Anyway, that concludes our look into 50 meter water resistant watches. If you enjoyed this article, then don’t hesitate to check out some of our other information articles that cover a variety of interesting topics about watches. You may learn some very interesting and also lesser known facts. You can check out some of those articles here

If you want to learn more about water resistance, we have other articles that go into detail about that. You can learn more about water resistance in watches here

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