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Water Resistant Watches - What do I Need to Know About Water Resistant Watches?

diving atm bar resistance

What Defines a Water Resistant Watch

Many types of watches can be water resistant, whether they are digital, mechanical or automatic watches. The first 100m water resistant watches were made by Rolex in 1953 with the production of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner. Incidentally, Rolex applied for the first patent for a waterproof watch in 1926. Almost all water resistant and waterproof watches are fitted with sealing rings on the casing base, glass, and button.

Most, but not all, watches are water resistant to some degree. Watches that are water resistant will display the water resistance rating on the back of the watch case. It will have the words “water resistant” followed or preceded by a number in meters, feet, BARs, ATM’s or a combination of any of these four numbers. ATMs (Atmospheres) and BARs (almost equal to an atmosphere) should be considered equivalent for the purposes of water resistance. Some watches labeled “water resistant” should not be regarded as waterproof. There are four different classes of water resistant watches, all characterized by a different level of water related use.

Water Resistant 30M (3 BAR/ATM) The minimum water resistance. any watches labeled as “sport” watches should, at the very least, have this rating. watches with this rating should be proof against perspiration, but shouldn’t be worn while bathing.

Water Resistant 50M (5 BAR/ATM) The typical resistance of quality watches for everyday wear. These watches can be worn while bathing, but shouldn’t be worn while swimming or diving. Watches with leather wristbands should be removed before bathing because excessive water penetration will cause the leather to deteriorate.

Water Resistant 100-200M (10-20 BAR/ATM) These watches are suitable for skin diving (snorkeling), but not for scuba diving. These watches may be labeled as “waterproof” by some manufacturers.

Water Resistant 200-300M (20-30 BAR/ATM) Diver’s watches must be made in accordance to the ISO 6425 standard, which outlines test standards and features for diving watches. All watches that conform to ISO 6425 are marked DIVER’S to distinguish true diving watches from imitation watches that are not suitable for scuba diving. Most diver’s watches are rated for 200-300m depths, but modern technology has allowed the creation of watches that can go far deeper.

Caring for a Water Resistant Watch

If your watch is exposed to salt water you should rinse it thoroughly in fresh water at the earliest opportunity. Salt water can weaken a watch’s water resistant properties by causing the seals that protect your watches to become brittle and less elastic. For the same reasons, you should keep your watch away from strong solvents such as gasoline, strong cleaning sprays, aerosol sprays and paint because chemical reactions with such agents can destroy the watch’s seals, case and finish. Regardless, your water resistant watches should be taken to the local watchmaker or jeweler to have the seals replaced every two years. If your watch is an automatic or mechanical watch, this is an ideal time to have the internal movements lubricated as well. Some watch manufacturers require customers to have their watches serviced by an authorized retailer to avoid voiding the warranty.

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