Understanding Water Resistance in Watches: Levels, Testing, and Standards

Watches have become more than just timekeeping devices—they have evolved into essential accessories that accompany us in various activities, including swimming, diving, and outdoor adventures. To ensure that your timepiece can withstand exposure to water, it's crucial to understand water resistance and its significance in watchmaking. In this blog, we explore the levels of water resistance, testing methods, and industry standards that determine a watch's ability to resist water.

Image from The Luxe Review

Water Resistance Levels

Water resistance is typically indicated in meters, ATM (atmospheres), or bar units, representing the depth to which a watch can be safely submerged. Common water resistance levels include 30 meters (3 ATM or 3 bar), 50 meters (5 ATM or 5 bar), 100 meters (10 ATM or 10 bar), 200 meters (20 ATM or 20 bar), and so on. It's important to note that these ratings signify the watch's static water resistance and may not account for dynamic activities such as swimming or diving.

Testing Methods

To determine a watch's water resistance, manufacturers subject their timepieces to rigorous testing procedures. These tests simulate various conditions that a watch may encounter when exposed to water. Common tests include the water pressure test, condensation test, and thermal shock test. The water pressure test evaluates a watch's resistance to static water pressure, while the condensation test checks for any moisture ingress. The thermal shock test ensures that the watch can withstand sudden temperature changes.

Industry Standards

To ensure consistency and accuracy in water resistance ratings, industry organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have established standards. The ISO 22810 standard outlines the requirements for water-resistant watches, including testing criteria and labelling guidelines. It's crucial to look for watches that comply with recognized standards to ensure reliable water resistance performance.

Maintenance and Precautions

While a watch may be water-resistant, proper maintenance and precautions are still necessary to maintain its water resistance over time. Regular servicing, including gasket replacements and pressure testing, is essential to ensure the integrity of the watch's seals. It's also important to avoid exposing the watch to extreme temperature changes, chemicals, or sudden impacts that could compromise its water resistance.


Image from The Coolector

Understanding water resistance is crucial when choosing a watch that can withstand exposure to water. The water resistance level indicates the depth to which a watch can be safely submerged, but it's important to consider the specific activities for which the watch is intended. Manufacturers subject their watches to rigorous testing procedures to ensure water resistance performance, and compliance with industry standards further ensures reliability. However, regular maintenance and precautions are essential to maintain a watch's water resistance over time. By understanding water resistance levels, testing methods, and industry standards, you can confidently select a watch that suits your water-related activities and enjoy its functionality with peace of mind.