How to Tell if a Watch is Waterproof or not?

Even though our phones are capable of telling us the current time, many people still prefer to use watches to know what time it is at any point during the day or night.

However, if you want to use a watch to know the time, you’ll have to wear it all day, and with that comes a risk of ruining your watch while doing certain activities that involve water. Before you bring your watch close to any water source, you’ll need to know whether it’s waterproof or not.

Your watch is not waterproof. In fact there are no waterproof watches at all. However there are water resistant watches that can withstand water pressure to a certain level before they break. If your watch is water resistant, it will have a label that tells you how much water pressure it can handle.

Before we talk more about how much your watch can withstand water, we’ll have to address the difference between waterproof and water resistance.

Waterproof vs water resistant

A waterproof watch is a watch that is basically immune to any water damage. No matter how much water pressure is exerted on the watch, it will never break. There is no way a watches manufacturer can guarantee that their watches are waterproof.

The Federal Trade Commission decided to ban the term ‘waterproof’ from being used to advertise watches because they believe that there are no truly waterproof watches till this date.

With that said, using the term ‘waterproof’ to describe a watch is completely wrong. Even though our scientific research has reached an advanced level, humans are still not capable of creating a fully waterproof watch till this date.

Water resistance on the other hand is a more accurate term when describing watches that can handle water. A water resistant watch is a watch that can handle water pressure up to a certain level.

If the water pressure exerted on the watch is more than it claims it can handle, the watch might break.

How to know how much water resistant a watch is?

Usually, all water resistant watches come with labels that inform you about how much your watch can handle water.

Usually, the labels use either atm or bar to describe how much water resistant your watch is.

What is atm or bar?

Atm is short for atmosphere and it’s just a unit to measure pressure. Bar is also just another unit to measure pressure and one bar is equivalent to 0.986923 atm. Which means that atm and bar are almost the same thing.

1 atm is also equivalent to 10.33 metres or 33.89 feet.

Here’s a link to the CASIO website, a watches manufacturer, that tells you what the water resistance numbers on their watches mean.

Usually, the meaning of the water resistance labels is the same for most of the other watches manufacturers too, and here’s what they mean:

  • 3 atm means that your watch can withstand water splashes or rain.
  • 5 atm means that you can shower with your watch and you can swim only in shallow water.
  • 10 atm is suitable for swimming but you still can’t use the watch while diving.
  • 20 atm watches are suitable for diving, surfing, and many other water sports.

There are also watches that are specifically designed for divers and the labels will tell you that. You’ll usually have a ‘diver’s watch’ label and these watches are capable of withstanding a lot of pressure underwater.

How careful should you be when using my watch near water?

You need to think a lot before you take your watch near water. Especially if you care about your watch a lot.

Even though the labels might say that your watch is suitable for swimming, it can still break under water. 

There are many variables that need to be taken into consideration when testing whether a watch can be used for swimming or not.

The water pressure can change rapidly when you’re swimming because you’ll have to move your hands fast, and there are many things that can go wrong when bringing you watch underwater.

So if you’re worried about your watch, it’s better not to use it while swimming unless it’s extremely necessary.

Should I take a hot shower with my watch on?

Do not ever take a hot shower while having your watch on. 

Most of the watch manufacturers use pieces of rubber that prevents any water from reaching the electronics inside the watch.

The problem is that heat can damage rubber. The heat resulting from the hot water can damage the rubber pieces that are protecting your watch. If these rubber pieces are damaged, they’ll leak water inside your watch and your watch will stop working.

So make sure that you do not use your watch in hot showers, or else you might regret it forever.

Does water resistance decrease over time?

Yes it does. Like most of the other products, watches won’t be as good as they were when you first bought them.

Again, the rubber that is preventing water from reaching the electronics in your watch will not keep its elasticity forever. With time, the rubber will be less elastic and it might not be able to protect the watch the same way it used to do before.

So the older your watch is, the higher risk it has of being damaged when touching water.

To summarize

There are no waterproof watches, however there are many water resistant watches. To be able to tell how much your watch can handle water, you’ll need to check the water resistance label that it has.

Do not use your watch during hot showers and make sure to be more careful when your watch gets older because with time, your watch will lose it’s water resistance powers.