Watches and Water: Resistance Ratings, Caring for Your Watch, and More

This article was produced in partnership with Crown & Caliber. Learn more about its expertly curated collection of watches, and why over 60,000 buyers and sellers trust its online marketplace.

Thinking of going for a swim with your watch? Take a minute to do your research, or you might be sorry. As the experts at Crown & Caliber outline in the video above, there’s no such thing as a truly waterproof watch, just varying levels of water resistance. In fact, jumping into the pool might totally ruin your timepiece. But armed with some knowledge, you can make sure to pick out the right watch for your needs.

First, it’s important to understand what water resistance ratings mean. Put simply, they’re measures of the water pressure that a watch can withstand. Although these ratings are often expressed in terms of depth, a 50-meter resistance rating doesn’t mean you can swim in 50 meters of water with your watch. As C&C’s Nathan Nerswick explains in the video, that can lead to some confusion when shopping.

“People will often mistake water-resistant for waterproof, and these are not the same,” he says.

When you see a depth rating, it’s better to think of it in terms of water pressure, because that’s how watchmakers test their timepieces. The depth ratings are based on static pressure measured in very controlled settings—nothing like the variable conditions you experience in the ocean or the pool. That’s why a 50-meter depth rating isn’t enough to take your watch on a swim.

To avoid confusion, keep a few C&C-approved guidelines in mind. Watches with ratings in the 30- to 50-meter range will stand up to rain and hand-washing, but that’s it. Watches with a 100-meter rating can be taken swimming, but only if they have screw-down crowns and sealed cases. For serious underwater activity, you’ll need a rating of 300 meters or more, and that’s dive watch territory. With that kind of water resistance, your timepiece will function while scuba diving (up to a certain depth), and some models have even higher ratings.

But dive watches need proper care to keep out water. Make sure you have the gaskets and seals on your watch checked regularly, and always keep them clean and lubricated. In addition, no matter what kind of watch you have, take it off before showering.

“Soap and steam are never friends of gaskets,” Nerswick says.

Dive watches are ideal for people who spend a lot of time around the water, and there are lots of great examples at a variety of price points. Plus, dive watches are just as versatile in your wardrobe as they are in the water: They pair well with tees and jeans or even a formal tux, and you can wear them day or night. Check out C&C’s Dive Watch 101 for an introduction to these remarkable timepieces, and don’t miss the company’s dive watch guide for an overview of some great buys.

For the full rundown on water resistance, check out the video above, and make sure to visit Crown & Caliber for expert guidance when picking out your next timepiece.

Except where noted, the brands whose products Crown & Caliber, LLC sells are not associated with Crown & Caliber, LLC. The brand names are the trademarks of their respective owners. Crown & Caliber, LLC is an independent dealer, and is not an authorized reseller of any of the items they sell.

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