Saturday, June 18, 2011

What You Don't Know About Water Resistance and Your Luxury Watch. (But about to find out)

Summer is here and that means lots and lots of water. Whether you intend on splashing or swimming or floating or diving or just hanging around at the water's edge, you need a watch with some measure of water resistance. Here are some useful tips on what makes a watch water resistant and if the water resistancy of your watch is enough for the type of water sports you enjoy. If you plan on entering a dark underground watery chamber in full diving gear, then a watch with a helium valve and 300 + water resistance is probably the best idea. If on the other hand, you cannot swim - nope never learnt and have no intention of doing so, than a watch which can handle a splash or too is your best bet. The market is absolutely brimming with great water resistance watches, some of which have water resistancy exceeding man's maximum diving depth like the Hublot King Power Diver 4000m or Clerc Hydroscaph 1000m.

So what exactly is water resistance and what makes one watch more water resistant than another.
What components make a watch water resistant?
– O rings made of rubber, nylon or Teflon. The gaskets form water tight seals at the areas where the crystal, back and crown meet the watch case.
· Sealant – a quick hardening liquid. The sealant lines the water-resistant watch case. This helps prevent any moisture from entering the watch case.
· Watch case. The thickness and material of the watch case also play a major factor in determining whether the watch can be safely submerged in water. A sturdy case has a greater ability to withstand the water pressure without caving in, thus the case is made from steel, titanium or steel plated with gold. Solid gold cases can be water-resistant if they are thick enough.
· A screw in case back – rather than the push in case back.
· A screw in Crown – found in most diver watches. This helps prevent water penetrating the watch-stem hole.
2. What will happen if water gets into my watch?
When water seeps into the interior of the watch, watch parts can rust, slowing down mechanical mechanisms or short circuiting electronics. Therefore utmost care must be taken to ensure that the type of water activity you do with your watch, meets the luxury watch manufacturers guidelines.
  1. Why can’t I find a water-proof watch?
A couple days ago my friend approached me. He was in the market to purchase a new luxury watch; however, he was becoming very agitated..
“I have searched high and low, from website to website, but I just cannot seem to find a watch that is labeled water- proof.”
“Well, “I said pleased with my new found knowledge, “I can help you on this one. The Federal Trade Commission has issued strict guidelines that prevent watch marketers from labeling their watches water-proof, so even the watch that you will purchase for scuba diving will not be labeled water-proof. The term is illegal and no longer used.” My friend seemed much happier and bought his watch the very next day.
  1. The label on my watch clearly states “water resistant to 50 meters” but the sales person informed me that I could only use this watch for swimming, not for diving or snorkeling.
The water-resistance levels are only useful if the watch and water is perfectly motionless. The tests to determine the water-resistance have been done in a controlled environment with no confounding factors. In the real world the swimmer and the water is in constant motion adding additional pressure to the watch. So although the label may clearly state that the watch is water-resistant to 50 meters, it means 50 meters in lab testing machines, and not in the swirling ocean currents or violent sprays of water during White Water Rafting.
  1. What are the different levels of water-resistance?
My friend did call me about a 100 times more before purchasing his watch. This was one of his more valid questions. I was in a great mood, so I tabulated my findings. My friend loves tables.

Water Resistance Rating
Watch Example
Water related work & fishing
NOT for swimming or diving
Surfing, swimming, snorkeling, sailing & water sports
NOT suitable for diving
Professional Marine activity and serious water sports
NOT suitable for diving
Divers 100 m
MIN ISO standard for scuba diving at depths not requiring helium gas.
These watches are generally older watches
Suitable for scuba diving depths not requiring Helium gas
Most contemporary diver’s watches have this rating.
Suitable for saturation diving (helium enriched environments).
Watches designed for Helium mixed-gas diving will have additional markings.
  1. I have come across the abbreviation ATM when describing the watches water-resistance. What does it stand for?
ATM is an abbreviation for “atmosphere” which equals ten meters of water pressure.
  1. Does my watch maintain the same water-resistance indefinitely?
Absolutely not! Just like any piece of machinery – watches wear with time. Gaskets can become corroded or misshapen, hampering the effectiveness of the water-resistance. The cases can become dented creating tiny gaps where water can enter, and crystals can become loose or broken. As a result your watch needs preventative maintenance just like your car.
  1. I have just purchased my watch, when do I need to check the water-resistance?
Your watch needs to be checked at least once a year. In addition, the watch needs to be reexamined every time the case-back is open as the gaskets can become dislodged. Make sure that you take your watch only to a Service Center Authorized by the manufacturer.
  1. What else can affect my watch’s water-resistance?
· Exposing your watch to heat like entering a hot tub or a sauna can cause the gaskets to lose their shape and capability to keep out water.
· Certain chemicals such as heavily chlorinated water, hair spray and perfumes can work their way into the seams of the watch and damage the gaskets.
  1. What about the Watch Strap?
As in the watch case, the watch strap must be suitable for water wear. The most recommended strap materials are rubber, metal, plastic or nylon. Stay away from leather unless of course the leather has been treated to resist water, and guaranteed safe for swimming.

1 comment: