The ability of timepieces to resist water exposure has significantly improved in tandem with the proliferation of diving watches. Even watches that aren’t meant to get wet typically include some water resistance in the construction of the watch to prevent damage from exposure to water. Watches, for instance, that can withstand a certain amount of dust is also likely to withstand a significant amount of water or other forms of moisture.
What’s the Difference Between Something That’s Waterproof and Something That’s Just Water-Resistant?
The ability of a watch to keep out water depends on the pressure imposed on it by the water, which is why most watches are classified as “water-resistant” rather than “waterproof.” This is because it is impossible for a watch to be completely waterproof.
Seals are built into watches to make them as watertight as humanly possible; in many cases, the tightness and impermeability of the seals increase the deeper you go into the water. The enormous pressures that can be found at shallower depths, even at 40 or 50 meters, are sufficient to cause the majority of timepieces to develop leaks that allow water to enter.
Many watches that are designed to be worn while swimming or diving have crowns and bezels that are constructed in a way that makes it impossible for water to enter the watch. Some of the more expensive ones, like Rolexes, include a secondary backup seal so that moisture cannot enter the watch gears even if the first one is broken. This is because Rolexes are known for their quality. Before entering the water, if you have a watch that is waterproof, you should always check to see that the crown has been completely pushed in.
Some watches can withstand a light spray, such as when you wash your hands, watches that can be worn safely in the shower, and watches that can be completely submerged in water, such as when you swim in the ocean or a pool. The majority of watches that have the designation “waterproof” are diving watches designed to withstand depths of several hundred meters below the surface without allowing water to enter.
How can I find out what functions my watch is able to perform?
If you want to make sure that your watch can withstand water, you should check the manufacturer’s website to see what kind of ratings it has in this category before you buy it. There will be a stamp indicating that a watch is water-resistant on the face the watch, and there may also be a number on the face of the watch that indicates how well the watch performs on a static pressure test. It is possible to make a notation of this in the actual unit of pressure, which is either an atmosphere (ATM) or a bar. Some timepieces show a rating in meters, albeit it may also be in feet.
It seems to be relatively easy to understand, right? The watch advertises that it can go down to fifty meters without leaking, so in theory, you should be able to dive down to that depth without running into any problems at all. That is not correct, and we will explain why in a moment.
During a brief pressure test performed at the depth that has been marked on the object, a depth rating can be determined. However, it does not take into account the possibility that you will be swimming with it for at least an hour while remaining wholly submerged. It does not take into account the possibility that you will be using it while sitting in a hot tub or a warm bath for an extended period of time, which may interfere with its operation.
A testing environment that is not moving and is static will not accurately reflect the reality of your wrist cutting through the water every few seconds, the sudden change in pressure that occurs when you dive from a height into the pool below, or the pressure that occurs when you accidentally knock it on the pool wall. Your watch will have a shorter lifespan and lower resistance to water as a result of all of these factors.
Then why do they even bother to give the timepieces this rating in the first place? The depth ratings provide a level of standardization that enables consumers to compare the various watches available to them accurately. Some diving watches will have depth ratings that are significantly higher, going as high as 300, 400, or 500 meters, and these watches will have been tested in the same manner at those depths. Therefore, despite the fact that a depth rating derived from a pressure test is not foolproof, it is a very excellent indicator of what your watch is capable of withstanding.
What Do Waterproofing IP Codes Have to Do with It?
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) developed the IP Codes, which are also known as ingress protection codes (International Electrotechnical Commission). They are more complex than the typical static depth pressure tests that are done on watches, and numerous tests are required to provide a single rating for the watch. An IP rating considers how well the casing protects against dust and water ingress and how well it protects against other sorts of pressure contact.
If your watch has a rating that looks like this: IP X followed by a number, then it will tell you how well it resists water and other types of moisture. This indicates that the watch has been rigorously tested in a variety of water situations. For instance, if it has a rating of IPX6, this indicates that it has been tested and found to be able to survive being subjected to a powerful stream of water. Sometimes, you may find numerous codes on a single watch, such as IPX3 or IPX5.
The initial letter, in this case, an X, represents defense against intruding elements such as dust. This number should be set to 6 (dust-tight) for the vast majority of waterproof watches. However, most waterproof smartwatches will have an X instead.
The following describes the values of the second letter, which can vary from 0 to 9:
Protection from droplets that fall on it at an angle of up to 15 degrees
(1) Protection from droplets that fall on it at an angle of up to 60 degrees
(2) Water sprayed on it at an angle of up to 60 degrees
(3) The case sprayed with water in all directions for at least 10 minutes
(4) Protection from water jets that come from any angle
(5) Complete protection from low-powered and high-powered jet sprays
(6) Temporary immersion in water
(7) Full watch immersion for half an hour
An Introduction to Waterproofing ISO Ratings for Watches
The ISO rating, which refers to the International Organization for Standardization, is a time-honored standard that is likely the most well-known rating for measuring the water-resistance of watches. In order to award a watch with an ISO certification, it must first pass a series of tests designed to evaluate how well it performs in a variety of conditions. The ISO approval seal can be officially bestowed upon a timepiece if specific criteria are met.
The tests that determine an item’s ISO grade involve everything from the most fundamental aspect of water resistance to how a watch responds to condensation and changes in temperature.
The most fundamental examination, which came to be known as the ISO 22810 and was designed in the early 1990s, then underwent an update some 20 years later in order to be brought up to speed with current requirements. This is used to test the water-resistance of the great majority of watches, and the results of the testing allow for the watches to be divided into the following categories:
Only has a resistance to splashes, such as those caused by rain or washing your hands, when rated at 30 meters or 3 BAR. It is not advisable to wear this watch when you are in the bathroom or the pool.
Fifty meters or 5 bar is an appropriate rating for routine use of a watch. You won’t have any issues taking a shower or doing some mild swimming while wearing this watch, but you shouldn’t use it for activities like scuba diving or snorkeling.
This certification indicates that the watch can be buried underwater for extended periods of time. It has a depth rating of 100 meters and a pressure rating of 10 bars. This is the perfect thing to use when you get out of the pool or the shower.
The ISO’s highest rating for a watch that is not a dive watch is 200 meters/20 BAR, which stands for barometric atmospheric pressure. This watch is suitable for usage during any water activity, including water sports and snorkeling.
The dive watches are the next level up after this one. The term “divers’ watch” may be applied to wristwatches that have been given an ISO 6425 grade. For the purpose of conforming to this standard, watches are subjected to rigorous testing, during which they are subjected to extreme conditions such as pressure, shock, and complete immersion. Testing begins at depths of 100 meters and continues all the way to a depth of 500 meters, which is a challenge that can only be met by a select few watches across the world.
The water-resistance of watches that meet this standard extends to at least 300 meters/30 BAR. Due to the fact that these are utilized for deep diving, they are equipped with a unique release valve for helium, and the dial is likely to be branded with the words “for mixed-gas diving.”