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Making A Splash: Watches Water Resistance Chart

October 11, 2021

Confused about making waves with your water resistant wonder? Dip into our exclusive guide on watch water-resistant categories and you’ll soon rise to the surface with confidence.

With readings shown as depth (meters), BAR, or atmospheric pressure (ATM), water resistance is about how much a watch can withstand water. 

Even this dedicated keeper of time knows that no watch can withstand water completely. While a watch's water resistance varies based on the assigned depth rating, it’s advisable not to use your timepiece for prolonged periods of time as water pressure will affect the watches condition. Despite depth ratings, they are not designed for this purpose.

So, time lords, the question is can your watch take the pressure? Let’s find out;

Time’s Up Already - 1 ATM (10 meters / 33 ft)

All trusted watch manufacturers offering no depth indicator means your watch is only created for the tiniest of splashes. With no caseback markings, steer well clear.

Any 1 ATM watch will provide the water resistance rating of a sieve.

A man swimming in the pool

Cheap But Not So Cheerful - 3 ATM (30 meters / 100 ft) 

A watch tested to a 30 meters resistance rating is perfectly fine for water splashes, provided you don't take it in the shower.

Covering splashes but not deeper immersion, bathing, or hot steam, your timepiece will give protection against the elements such as rain droplets and washing hands. However, it’s not advisable to take it in the shower no matter how attached you are to it. 

How Water Resistant Is A 30m Watch?

Deemed the most popular water resistance level, 3ATM resistance can be found in the majority of premium watches. Again, you'll only get away with minimal protection such as splashes or rain droplets.

For around $50, there's a limited choice with an array of low-quality Chinese designer watches including MVMT that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. 

Yes, 30 meters may be as generous as Thanksgiving at the folks'. Taking the watch deeper underwater past this rating will cause irreparable damage.

Things That Go Bump - 5 ATM (50 meters / 165 ft) 

Let’s crank it up a notch. Ideal for short water submersions or swimming, 5ATM water resistance watches can handle some immersion and steam.

Heck, it can even deal with the odd powerbomb into the swimming pool!

Can You Swim With A 50m Water Resistant Watch?

There are a host of high-end luxury watches that benefit from 5ATM signifying better quality, expert watchmaking, and pricier components. This features gaskets, sealants, and the quality of glass. Again, it's best not to take these watches underwater in spite of the water resistance ratings.

Avoid vigorous swimming, snorkeling and try not to impress your friends by being the next Tom Daley on the diving board.

Cold lake swim in the dark evening

To Dip Or Not To Dip? 10ATM (100 meters / 328 ft)

For the casual user, this is where water-resistant vs. waterproof becomes that little less indifferent. 10 ATM is a starting point for any outdoor enthusiast looking to give their watch a drenching.

From swimming to boating and snorkeling, this depth is the perfect starting point for everyday wearers. Nevertheless, the watch remains prone to crown failure.

This is thanks to incorrect usage, ie. not pushing it in properly when altering the time, a defect or a shock impact that accidentally knocks the crown underwater. Damage underwater, though, is rarely covered by manufacturers. 

There are water-resistant watches featuring a dedicated locking crown. For watch enthusiasts or diving nerds, diving watches featuring a screwed in the crown is really the best option. 

Too Cool For School: 20 ATM (200 meters / 656 ft)

When you hit 200 meters, it’s all about bragging rights. Ultimately, a 200 meters depth rating is the minimum water-resistance standard.

The water depth rating on these beauties belongs to a select few diver watches with an airtight seal protecting them from excessive saltwater exposure. 

True contemporary divers start at this depth, giving watch fiends the opportunity to enjoy shallow diving and standard recreational diving around 200 feet.

First-rate performance, sub 11mm cases, and gorgeous aesthetics make these the perfect timepieces for watch connoisseurs. Extreme depths are a doddle for 20 ATM watches especially for busting a move when jet-skiing or across many water sports. 

snorkeling in Lembongan

Check out more guides

Livin on the Edge: 30 ATM (300 meters / 984 ft)

Serious scuba peeps will be able to forge new adventures with a 30 ATM watch. However, most watches carry the full ISO 6425 guidelines meaning it is considered a genuine “diving watch”.

Aside from serious watch geeks or expert diving folk, you won’t be submerging 300 plus feet in a hurry. At these levels, dive computers are more often used for tracking and noting dive times as well as depth rather than dive watches.

Take into account that only deep sea experts pair their dive watch alongside a modern dive computer to record dives.

Size Does Matter: 100+ ATM (1000 meters/3280 ft)

Who says bigger isn't better! Models such as the Rolex Deepsea with a near 400 ATM rating have made real waves previously. But the larger you go, the heavier it will sit on your wrist. 

At 100 ATM, your hand is going to droop like an uncared indoor plant with no comfort whatsoever. These beauties are mainly designed for mixed gas diving, saturation diving, and scuba diving with the crown ensuring no water can penetrate the case back. It may be a horological nightmare but it’s important to realize not to take any numbers on your watch seriously. 

Appropriate for mixed gas diving but unsuitable for water sports, fishing, and kayaking, we are now in saturation diver territory (SAT). But why is it so cumbersome? 

Featuring bejeweled sapphire crystals, it’s down to extreme conditions underwater. These watches need to be thicker and heavier with intricate designs to keep divers breathing and to withstand immense surrounding pressures.

In conclusion, the water resistance features of your watch are a vital cog in the watch purchasing process. We hope you enjoyed this definitive watch feature that will now allow you to make a real splash on your next acquisition.

Author
Simon Lazarus
As an avid watch fiend, Simon Lazarus isn’t any ordinary watch collector. Since the dawn of time (well almost), his obsession with timepieces has seen him establish a bijou collection across his extensive travels with his wife and two darling daughters including in the US and Dubai. With an extensive back catalogue of published work on timepieces for numerous sites globally, watches are moments in history. He certainly makes time to capture the true essence of watchmaking with an eye for impeccable detail showcased in his plethora of watch articles across numerous sites. With a well formed selection focusing on Swiss made as well as emerging microbrands that will no doubt gain in value, time is almost as precious as his two young princesses!
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