Why Your Waterproof Watch Might Not Be as Water-Resistant as You Think

5 min read

Don't Get Soaked: Why Your "Waterproof" Watch Might Not Be Pool-Proof

Most of us are familiar with the waterproof digital watches depicted in advertisements – stylish ones adorning the arms of models, slipping into rocky beaches or resisting gushing waterfalls. Such representations provide a scalable vision of untouchable watches that will remain secure from water risks for all eternity. But the reality, for most watches labelled ‘waterproof,’ is a bit different. 

Here's the truth bomb: Your waterproof digital watch just isn’t as durable as you may have wanted it to be, and here are some clues as to why this could be so.

Water Resistant vs. Waterproof: Understanding the Difference

The precise difference always seems to be embedded in the words used to refer to the concept. “Waterproof” means absolutely protected from water, and on the other hand, “Water resistant” means it can endure water exposure to an extent. The vast majority of digital watches are of the latter type.

This water resistance is expressed in ATM – Atmosphere or Metre. Thus, a 5 ATM or 50m rating means that, in theory, the watch is protected against pressure that is equivalent to that at 50 metres underwater.

However, there are crucial factors to consider beyond this static depth rating:

  • Activity: All the above ratings however, are based on the understanding that the watch is stationary. Swimming, for instance, constantly involves the pressing and movement of water and this puts pressure on the seals.

  • Temperature: Sealants can swell or shrink due to heat that comes from hot tubs or using hot showers. This contributes to a bad seal.

  • Chemicals: Chlorine from pools and salt in seas and oceans affects the seals and thus degrades them. 

  • Everyday Wear: Usually, there are seals in the shower area which can be weakened by soap, shampoo and constant sweating resulting in wearing down of the watch. 

  • Crown and Pushers: These are the worst areas where the water can enter a watch. Ensure that your watch is well fastened and screwed tight before you start using it. 

Decoding the Water Resistance Rating: A Guide

Here's a breakdown of common water resistance ratings and their suitability for different activities:

  • 3 ATM (30 metres): Splash-proof only. Can handle rain or washing hands, but not submersion.

  • 5 ATM (50 metres): Suitable for shallow swimming or showering, but not ideal for diving or high-impact water sports.

  • 10 ATM (100 metres): Good for swimming and snorkelling, but not for deep diving.

  • 20 ATM (200 metres) & Above: Ideal for recreational diving and water sports with high water pressure.

These are just general guidelines. Always refer to your digital watch's specific user manual for detailed recommendations.

Understanding Different Water Resistance Markings: Beyond ATM and Metres

As much as ATM and metres are standard measurements of water resistance, you could come across some additional symbols on your watch or on the product’s packaging. Here's a quick guide to understanding them:

  • "Water Resistant": This is the most fundamental classification and usually points to a product that has only splash proofing, that is, resistance to only water droplets.

  • "Shower Resistant": Is good under light splashes which may occur in the shower but cannot withstand direct water hose streams.

  • "Diver's X Metres": This has to do with professional diving watches and is assigned under the number ISO 6422. Said watches are tested for water resistance and shock resistance between other factors that are especially important for underwater usage. The “X” will be substituted by another depth rating for recreational or saturation divers.

However, please bear in mind that what you are going to read is just the templates or rather a usual pattern. It is always important to consult the user’s manual of your watch to know how to clean it, and other restricted activities you are supposed to avoid. With this understanding of the markings, it is possible to make the right decisions on wearing a watch under various situations.

Taking Care of Your Water-Resistant Digital Watch

Just like any prized possession, your digital watch deserves proper care to maintain its water resistance:

  • If your watch has come in contact with saltwater, you need to rinse it with fresh water as salt will lead to corrosion of the metal components. 

  • Wipe gently with a soft cloth especially around the crown area and the pushers, until the watch is thoroughly dry.

  • Avoid extreme temperatures.

  • Have the seals inspected and potentially replaced by a professional watchmaker every 1-2 years, especially for frequently used watches.

When to Leave Your Watch on Land

Here are some situations where it's best to leave your watch behind, regardless of its rating:

  • High-impact water sports:

    Surfing, whitewater rafting, and other activities with sudden water pressure changes pose a high risk.

  • Hot springs and saunas:

    The extreme heat can damage the seals and internal components.

  • Direct chemical exposure:

    Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach or certain cleaning agents.

Just In Time for Peace of Mind

Water resistance is a beneficial feature for waterproof digital watch connoisseurs; however, expectations should be properly set. For actual diving or other activities that entail immersion in water, it is recommended that one gets a professional dive watch with an increased level of water resistance represented by an elevated level of ATM.

But if you are just going to use it for daily purposes and for swimming at least once or twice a week, a waterproof digital watch that has a high ATM rating and is in good condition from a reputable manufacturer can suffice.

Just In Time is a reputed showroom chain that specializes in the sales of waterproof digital watches with over 65 outlets in India. All our digital watches are available and our friendly staff will help you select a watch that is ideal for you bearing in mind your everyday activities, in addition to offering advice on how you can maintain it. Therefore, run to your nearest Just In time store to get your waterproof digital watch that meets the activities of the active life without getting damaged by water!

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