Water Resistant vs. Waterproof Watches

Posted by Watch Warehouse Experts on May 25, 2018

Water Resistant vs. Waterproof Watches

Water resistance is one of the main qualities that watch buyers look for in luxury watches. People come into contact with water daily, after all, and a watch must be able to withstand these day-to-day activities. If you’re in the market for a luxury waterproof or water-resistant watch, then make sure you first know the difference between water resistant and waterproof. If you intend on taking your watch for a swim or dive, then it’s especially crucial that you know the difference between water resistant vs. waterproof so that you don’t break your new, luxury watch.

Water Resistant vs. Waterproof: What Is A Waterproof Watch?

You’ll notice that luxury watches are rarely labeled as “waterproof.” Instead, they have a label on the watch dial indicating water resistance and a number of meters. This is because no watch is truly waterproof. The difference between water resistant and waterproof lies in how much water a watch can actually handle before breaking. “Waterproof” implies that a watch will never leak, under any circumstances, but the truth that if put enough water pressure on it, any watch will leak. That doesn’t mean that near-waterproof watches don’t exist, though. Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea Challenge, for instance, has been proven waterproof up to 12,000 meters or 39,370 feet.

When shopping for a watch for your needs, don’t look for a waterproof watch. Instead, look for a water-resistant watch whose water resistance depth matches your intended use.

How To Read The Water Resistance Rating

Now that you know the difference between water resistant and waterproof watches, let’s take a look at water resistance ratings and what they mean. Water-resistant watches will have a depth rating on them, but do you know what the numbers really mean? While you might expect that a watch with 100M/330 ft water resistance can be used for scuba diving up to 100M, this is actually not the case.

In fact, a watch with 100M water resistance passed a leakage test at a static test pressure of 100M, but this does not mean that the watch will withstand leakage if used for extended periods of time at such a depth. When thinking about water resistant vs. waterproof watches, a watch marked as water resistant at a certain depth is actually only resistant for use at a fraction of its indicated rating. For example, watches with a 100M water resistance rating should actually only be used at 100m for a short amount of time and only frequently worn for shallow water swimming, not diving.

A luxury, water-resistant silver, Rolex watch.

Water Resistance Ratings

You can view our full water resistance guide  here, but below is a list of common water activities and the water resistance ratings to look for in a water-resistant watch for those purposes.

  • Non-Water Resistant: The watch cannot be exposed to water, not even for cleaning.
  • 50M/165 ft: The watch can be worn while showering.
  • 100M/330 ft: The watch can be worn while swimming in shallow water.
  • 300M/1000 ft: The watch can be worn while scuba diving.
  • 1000M/3000 ft: The watch can be worn for deep sea diving.

Though no watch is truly waterproof, the difference between water resistant and waterproof watches gets smaller as the water resistance depth is deeper. Though purchasing a completely waterproof watch is near impossible, investing in a well-made watch with a high water resistance will achieve the same goals as a waterproof luxury watch!

Water Resistant vs. Waterproof: Standards of Regulation

ISO 2281

In 1990, the International Organization of Standardization issued its standard for rating water-resistant watches. It has since been adopted by many countries. The ISO 2281 standard is a thorough test that accurately and meticulously determines the water resistance of a watch. It subjects watches to water pressure resistance tests, condensation tests, and air resistance tests, among others. These tests are performed on a random sample from each batch of watches.

In addition to creating this template for rating water resistant watches, the International Organization of Standardization also bans the use of the term “waterproof” in describing a watch.

ISO 6425

ISO 6425 is a standard that regulates divers’ watches. Introduced in 1996, the rating is given to watches that can withstand depths of at least 100M. The watches are put through reliability tests, condensation tests, saltwater tests, and pressure tests, among others. In these cases the difference between water resistant and waterproof is especially important as divers’ watches are relied upon in crucial life-or-death situations underwater.

Furthermore, certain divers’ watches will also be approved for mixed-gas diving (diving with assistance from a diving chamber). These will indicate “For Mixed-Gas Diving” next to the watch’s water resistance rating.

A luxury, water-resistant watch

Best Water-Resistance Watches

While we have learned that comparing water resistant vs. waterproof is really a matter of comparing varying water resistance levels, there are certain watches available that have near-waterproof durability. Thanks to continuing advancements in timekeeping technology, you should be able to find a great water-resistant watch no matter your budget or the difference between water resistant and waterproof.  Watch Warehouse offers many genuine discounted luxury men’s and women’s watches with high water-resistance.

For an affordable watch that won’t break the bank, try  Nautica diver watches. These are nautical, practical watches fit for water sports and swimming. Slightly higher-end Gucci dive watches are a perfect mid-range watch that solves the water resistant vs. waterproof dilemma while combining style and function. At the pinnacle of dive watches, there’s the Rolex Oyster collection, a pioneering water-resistant watch model. The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean is another superb chronometer meant for precision diving.

Shop Water-Resistant Watches

Now that you know the difference between water resistant vs. waterproof watches, you’re equipped to find the perfect watch for your needs! With a reliable water-resistant watch, you won’t have to worry about your watch breaking when you wash your hands, shower, or engage in water sports.

Dive watches are an especially wonderful showcase of timekeeping technology. If you’re a recreational or professional diver, you are probably very aware of the importance of a good dive watch. Invest in a good one, and you’ll have a reliable companion for every dive!

Watch Warehouse offers a variety of luxury watches at affordable, discounted prices. Whether you’re looking for a watch you can wear while swimming or a gift for the beach lover in your life, shop our collection today to get amazing deals now!