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Understanding and Caring for Your Water-Resistant Watches

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The ticking heart of a watch is a marvel of precision and engineering. As such, protecting it from the elements becomes crucial. One of the most common protections marketed is ‘water resistance’, but what does it really mean? And how should one care for water-resistant watches? Let’s dive in and explore.

What is Water Resistance in Watches?

Water resistance in watches refers to the ability of a timepiece to prevent water ingress to its inner workings. It’s determined by the watch’s construction, including seals, gaskets, and the case’s design. It’s worth noting, however, that no watch is truly “waterproof.” Even the most robust dive watches are “water-resistant” up to a certain depth.

How is Water Resistance Measured?

Water resistance is generally measured in meters (m), feet (ft), or atmospheres (ATM). Here’s a basic breakdown:

30m (3ATM): Suitable for everyday use. Splash/rain resistant but not for showering, swimming, or diving.


50m (5ATM): Suitable for short periods of water exposure e.g., showering, but not swimming or diving.

100m (10ATM): Suitable for swimming, snorkeling, but not high-board diving or sub-aquatic activities.

200m and above: Suitable for high-impact water sports and diving.

Misconceptions About Water Resistance

  • “My watch is 30m resistant, so I can dive up to 30 meters with it.” No, this is a common misunderstanding. A 30m rating means the watch can handle light splashes.
  • “If my watch is water-resistant once, it’s always water-resistant.” Seals and gaskets can degrade over time, reducing the watch’s resistance. Regular checks and maintenance are vital.

Caring for Your Water-Resistant Watch

  • Regular Servicing: Just like a car needs its oil changed, watches need regular servicing to replace worn-out gaskets and seals, ensuring the water resistance remains intact.
  • Avoid Hot Water: Never wear your water-resistant watch in a sauna or hot tub. The heat can cause parts to expand and allow water to enter the watch.
  • Rinse After Salt Exposure: If you wear your watch in the ocean, always rinse it with fresh water afterward. Salt can corrode metal and affect rubber seals.
  • Check the Crown: Ensure that the crown (the winding knob) is always fully pressed or screwed in. It’s a common entry point for water.

Understanding the Limits

Your dive watch might be rated to 200m, but that doesn’t mean you should make it a routine to push it to its limits. Consistently exposing the watch to pressures near its maximum rating can prematurely wear out its seals.

Dealing with Water Ingress

If you notice condensation or water inside your watch, it’s crucial to act quickly:

Avoid pressing any buttons or using the chronograph function.


Head to a watch repair shop or service center as soon as possible to get it checked.

Dry the watch: Place it in a dry, warm place (but not too hot) to allow the moisture to evaporate. Break out your rice.


Water resistance is a fantastic feature that enhances the durability and functionality of a watch. However, it’s essential to understand its limits and provide the necessary care to ensure your timepiece remains in top-notch condition for years to come. Always remember, prevention is the best strategy: treat your water-resistant watch with the respect it deserves, and it’ll serve you faithfully on land and at sea.