Difference Between Watch Water Resistance vs Waterproof

You may have heard the terms “water resistant” and “waterproof” when shopping for a watch. But do you know what these mean?

In this blog post we’ll explain the difference between watch water resistance vs waterproof.

We’ll take you through the levels of water resistance in watches. Which is essential knowledge for when you’re picking out your next watch.

What You’ll Learn About Watch Water Resistance

Watch Water Resistance Guide

These are just estimates, please go by what your watch manufacturer states.

3 bar3 atm30m100ftSuitable for everyday use:
‣ Accidental splashes
‣ Rain resistant
5 bar5 atm50m165ftSuitable for everyday use:
‣ Accidental splashes
‣ Rain resistant
10 bar10 atm100m330ftSuitable for recreational:
‣ Surfing
‣ Swimming
‣ Snorkeling
20 bar20 atm200m660ftSuitable for:
‣ Water sports
‣ Free diving
(not scuba diving depths unless it’s a divers watch)
30 bar30 atm300m990ftSuitable for:
‣ High impact water sports
‣ Scuba diving
50 bar50 atm500m1650ftSuitable for:
‣ Scuba diving
‣ Saturation diving
100 bar100 atm1000m3300ftSuitable for:
‣ Deep sea diving
‣ Space travel
Photo of a watch on a mans wrist over a body of water.
Watch Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash

Water Resistance Terminology

When you’re looking at the water resistance of a watch. You’ll often come across terminology like Atm or Bar.

Here we explain what these watch terms mean.

What does Atm mean on a watch?

Atm is a water resistance term.

Atm stands for standard atmosphere, or simply, atmosphere.

1 atm = 10 meters (around)

It’s a unit of measurement used to represent the pressure a watch can withstand. 

What does Bar mean on a watch?

Bar is a water resistance term. An alternative to atm.

Bar is a unit of pressure. It’s not included on the International Systems of Units

1 bar = 10 meters (around)

It’s a unit of measurement used to represent the pressure a watch can withstand. 

Can a watch be waterproof?

No watch can be 100% waterproof.

All watches (including diving watches) are only water resistant. Not waterproof.

Refer to the Watch Water Resistance Guide to understand the level of water resistance your timepiece has.

Water Resistance FAQ

Here are some of the top questions answered surrounding watch water resistance.

Can I shower with my watch?

The majority of watchmakers advise against ever showering with your watch. This is due to the hot water usually used while you shower.

Even dive watches should not be worn while showering. As the fluctuations between hot and cold temperatures may cause water to enter your timepiece.

So always remove your watch before you shower, and before you enter a sauna, steam room, or hot tub too.

Water got into my watch, what do I do?

Assess the damage first.

If it is light water damage you can leave it to dry out. 

You can pick a number of ways to dry it out:

  • Leaving it on its side in a tray of uncooked, dry rice. This is a popular method.
  • Leaving it near a radiator. The heat will dry it out, just be careful it doesn’t overheat.
  • Use a hairdryer. Just be careful to not overheat it.

If the damage is severe:

  • Check if you still are within your warranty. Then you can send it back to the manufacturer to get it repaired.
  • Or contact a watchmaker to repair it.

How do I defog/remove condensation from my watch?

This is a sign of water damage. It has lost some of its water resistance.

To remove condensation from your watch’s case. You need to leave your watch out to dry.

Try one of the methods we mention in Water got into my watch, what do I do?

How does water damage my watch?

A watch is meant to be a closed system.

No elements are supposed to get into the workings of a watch.

It’s like a car engine. If water floods into a car engine, it stops working. 

If water gets in it can cause rust and ensure a mechanical watch stops functioning.  Also water can cause a quartz battery to shut down, and not work anymore.

I have a leather strap on my water resistant watch. Can I swim with it?

No. Do not swim with a leather strap.

Your leather strap will absorb the water. Then when it dries out, cracks will form.

However, if your leather strap does get wet. Then reduce the damage with a leather conditioner.

What cancels out the water resistance of my watch?

If you leave the crown of your watch wide open.

This will cause water damage by opening up your watch’s mechanics to water. 

It also opens up your watch to other damaging elements, such as fumes, or traces of chemicals from cosmetics and fragrances.

The crown part of a watch.
Close up of the crown of a watch

Finally

Make sure to bookmark our Watch Water Resistance Guide. To help when shopping for your next water resistant timepiece.

Learn more about watches, with our blog post on watch brand ownership and watch groups.

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