In this article we are going to examine the differences between a water resistant watch vs a waterproof watch. There is a lot of conflicting information out there on this topic. Also, a lot of times, it isn’t explained very well.
That’s why we are going to break the topic down into simpler components so that hopefully, it should be pretty clear what a water resistant watch is, and what a waterproof watch really is.
So, first, here are the simple definitions.
If a watch is water resistant, this means a watch has a certain threshold for how much it can resist water before the possibility of water seeping through and damaging the components.
If a watch is water proof, this means that it can handle any amount of water with no risk to damaging the internal components of the watch.
That basically covers the definitions of both water resistant, and waterproof. However, there is more to this story than meets the eye.
For instance, we have all seen the labeled water resistance of a watch that is prepared by the manufacturer. But have you ever seen a watch labeled “waterproof”? Are there any truly waterproof watches out there? Let’s explore this topic further.
Are There Any Waterproof Watches?
We know that if a watch s waterproof, that means that it is completely impervious to water or water damage. So, the question are there any truly waterproof watches out there.
Well, in fact, the truth is no!!!! There are no truly waterproof watches. There are only water resistant ones. Why is this?
This is because a watch can never really be considered completely impervious to water. Now, back in the day water resistant watches were marketed as “waterproof”.
However, due to regulations made by the Federal Trade Commission, by the 1960’s companies were no longer allowed to use the term “waterproof” when referring to their watches. Because a watch can’t be 100% water resistant at all times, the use of the term waterproof would be considered false advertising.
There are actually materials that are completely waterproof, it’s just that watches are not among them. So, no watch is waterproof then. They can only be water resistant. The extent of that water resistance is the next thing we’ll discuss. The truth about that may surprise you!
The Reality of Water Resistance in a Watch
The truth behind a watch’s water resistance rating is that your watch may not be able to handle the exact amount of water it is rated for. But how is this possible? The key is in the ways in which watches are tested for water resistance.
Watches can be tested for water resistance either by submersion in water, being sprayed by water jets, or being placed within a chamber of compressed air.
In each of these instances, the watch’s dynamic resistance isn’t taken into account. And what I mean by that, is the watch’s ability to withstand that pressure during active use.
For example. A watch may be water resistant 50 meters. However, the act of swimming itself will place additional pressure on the watch. This is not accounted for. Also, the length of time a watch can remain at the listed depth may not be addressed.
The exception to this would be certified diving watches. A watch will be classified a diving watch if it can withstand a depth of at least 100 meters as well as meet a set of strict requirements.
Because of these factors, we have made a list of some general guidelines for water resistance. These cover the most commonly listed water resistance ratings.
Water Resistance General Guidelines
- 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
Now, one other important thing to remember about water resistance, is that it doesn’t last forever!
Water Resistance Deteriorates Over Time
Even a watch’s water resistance will deteriorate over time. This is true for all watches, including certified diving watches. On any watch, the components that seal a watch against water will wear down over time.
Other environmental factors such as heat exposure, humidity, and cold, or any temperature extremes can have an effect on a watch’s water resistance.
This is why watches that you frequently wear in the water will need to be serviced every couple of years or more depending on use. With proper care and maintenance, your watch can be worn and exposed to the appropriate amount of water for many, many years.
Can You Really Use the Term “Waterproof”?
We should know by now that no watch can ever be truly “waterproof”, however people still may juggle the use of that term when talking about watches. The truth is that you can actually use the term waterproof to a certain degree, such as when referring to water resistance.
Let’s say, for example that a watch happens to be water resistant 200 meters. You could say that this watch is waterproof up to 200 meters. In this case it is waterproof, but only to a certain depth.
So, it’s not 100% waterproof as that term would ordinarily suggest, but rather waterproof up to a certain point. This would be an example of an acceptable use of the term “waterproof”. However, manufacturers will still refer to it as “water resistant” 200 meters rather than “waterproof”.
Hopefully now you have a much better understanding of the terms water resistant watch vs waterproof. While a lot of times these terms are used interchangeably, they do have very different meanings.
That pretty much covers our breakdown of a water resistant vs waterproof watch. Hopefully you have enjoyed this article and found the information to be helpful. For more information and lesser known facts about watches, check out our info section. It can be found here