Is my watch water proof? - When to take your watch into the water  

Die Rolex Deapsea, wird für einen Test bis auf den Grund des Marianengraben mitgenommen.

A delicate watch with a mechanical movements, that is made of countless individual parts, and the rough nature of the sea are two things that could not be further apart. Yet luxury watches can handle water surprisingly well.

Especially the luxury watches from Rolex are known for their reliable water resistance. Certain Oyster models like the Submariner or the Sea-Dweller are even designed to dive into the depths of the ocean.

The water resistance of watches varies. While all Rolex models except the 1908 are water resistant to at least 100 meters, some watches from other manufacturers are only splash water resistant or should not come into contact with water at all. There is one watch type that is especially made for water, the diving watch. These watches can be recognized by the rotating bezel that turns in one way only and the large indices. Most diving watches are water resistant to a depth of about 200 meters.  


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What is a diving watch and when to use a watch for diving 

Not every watch that survives a little water is a diver's watch. There are timepieces that can only withstand a little splash water, those that you can occasionally go snorkeling with on vacation, and real diving watches that have been developed for diving.  

Mechanical diving watches were invented to reliably show the diver the dive time, so that the diver knows exactly when to go back to the Surface, before the oxygen runs out.


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Of course, today divers use dive computers that are more precise and offer even more features. However, the dive watch is still a cult object and definitely has a reason for existence, at least as a backup instrument, should the dive computer ever fail.  

eine Luxusuhr aus der Schweiz die sich zum Tauchen eignet
Source: Rolex

Water resistance is measured with much stricter criteria for dive watches. The so-called DIN standard 8306 ensure that every certified dive-watch is truly waterproof.



Can diving watches withstand seawater? 

Obviously, dive watches must not only be waterproof in fresh water but also saltwater-resistant. While other watches are often only waterproof for everyday use, dive watches ensure that they can withstand depths of over 200 meters without any issues.

Most diving watches can withstand at least a pressure of 20 bar. Bar is the unit used to measure the pressure per 10 meters, which affects the watch. This means at 20 bar, the watch can withstand a pressure of up to 200 meters depth.

In order to test the waterproofness, manufacturers perform, among other things, special condensation tests.  

As we've mentioned before, it is important that the watches are resistant to saltwater. This is much more aggressive than freshwater and attacks the material and the seals of the watch. The alloy titanium is particularly suitable for a dive watch, as it is completely resistant to saltwater. Of course, a stainless steel watch is also good enough, however, we would recommend that you rinse the watch with freshwater after every dive.


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The rotating bezel  

The most important and iconic feature of a diving watch is the rotating bezel. The scale ranges from a zero-position up to 60 minutes. At the beginning of the dive, you set the zero position to the place where the minute hand is currently located. The scale on the bezel then allows you to easily read your dive time. You can read your dive time by reading the number on the bezel that is currently just above the minute hand.

Good readability in low light conditions 

When diving, visibility is often poor and lighting conditions are not ideal. That's why it's important for the indices to be large, easily readable, and able to glow in the dark. For example, Rolex uses clearly recognizable circles and triangles as indices on their dive watches to ensure that the time can be read easily even at great depths.

Why Rolex is particularly notorious for waterproofing watches 

In the twenties, Rolex became famous for the fact that a swimmer wore a Rolex wristwatch while crossing the English Channel. The female swimmer did not quite succeed in her endeavor. But the Rolex Oyster worked perfectly after numerous hours in the water, prooving that a watch can be waterproof.  

This historic event significantly shaped the history of Rolex. That's why to this day, almost all Rolex watches are waterproof.

Today, diving watches from Rolex are among the best worldwide.  

Wohl die Beste Taucheruhr, die Rolex Submariner, ein klassiker
Source: Rolex

You can take a normal Submariner down to a deepth of 300 meters. The Deepsea can even withstand a pressure up to 390 Bars, or 3900 meters, and the Deepsea Challenge has even proven itself at an incredible depth of 11,000 meters.

Diese Taucheruhr ist bis auf eine Tiefe von 11'000 Meter wasserdicht.
Source: Rolex

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Things to consider with diving watches  

Dive watches, when actually used for diving, are exposed to extreme situations. They must be able to regularly withstand great pressures. They are designed to withstand that, nevertheless, this is still a big stress for the watch. As a result, a dive watch may experience greater wear than a normal watch such as a Rolex Datejust, which is worn only in everyday life.

It is therefore advisable to check your watch every so often. Find a Rolex dealer that has special equipment to check whether the watch is still waterproof. If you want to be on the safe side, you should also have the sealing rings replaced regularly.  

It is also possible that the water resistance of a watch may be compromised due to everyday use. Over time, especially the Rubber Seals deteriorate. Impacts, chemical reactions, sweat, or even too frequent turning of the crown can potentially affect the water resistance. Therefore, if your watch has not been serviced for a long time and you want to take your watch for a dive, it's advisable to send it in for service to be on the safe side.

Rolex is known for its marketing, this is one of the actions of the watch manufacturer
Source: Rolex

If you have been in the sea with your diving watch, you should definitely wash it of with fresh water afterwards, as salt water is very aggressive and can otherwise damage the material.  

One thing that's obvious but could break your watch is, you should not fiddle with the crown underwater, because otherwise you run the risk of water getting into the movement and ruining your beatiful watch.


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Can I go into the water with a chronograph watch? 

for example with Rolex, all watches from the Rolex Oyster series except for the 1908 are waterproof up to at least 100 meters deep. This means that you could also take the Daytona into the water. The chronograph watch may not have been designed for diving, but still it is highly water-resistant.

One thing you have to make sure is that while the watch is in the water, do not operate the pushers or the crown,otherwise water could get into your watch.

It should also be noted that this only applies to the Rolex Daytona. Other chronographs may be similarly water resistant or may not be water resistant at all. It is important to check the manufacturer's specifications.  

After all, the chronograph is made to time laps on a race tracks and not for the depths of our oceans.  

Zum Tauchen ist eine Taucheruhr unverzichtbar, Die Uhren von Rolex sind dafür besonders geeignet.
Source: Rolex

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How often does a diver's watch need to be serviced? 

This depends entirely on the use and the specifications of the manufacturer. If you only occasionally go diving with your watch as a hobby, it will have a different wear rate than if you regularly dive to depths of over 100 meters.  

How often you have to go for service depends on the manufacturer and the workmanship of the watch.  

For example, Rolex does not explicitly state that dive watches should be serviced more frequently. The normal maintenance intervals should be followed. To find out how often a Rolex watch should be serviced, check out our article on the service of Rolex watches.

Nevertheless, it is recommended to occasionally check the water resistance using special devices. If this is not the case, the sealing ring must be replaced. After all, everything depends on the sealing Rings.

Of course, if you just want to wear your dive watch in ordinary life or you bought it just for its looks and not because you plan to use the wristwatch while diving, you can take a more relaxed approach to these checks.  


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How waterproof must a watch be for diving?  

We have already mentioned that you can easily go swimming with a Daytona. But not all manufacturers guarantee such a water resistance of 10 bar. You absolutely have to pay attention to the specifications of the manufacturer of your watch to avoid nasty surprises. We have created a chart that you can use as a guide.  

No indication of waterproofness  The watch is not protected against water  
Water protected The watch is only protected against splash water. Water should be avoided.  
3 Bar waterproof (3 ATM)  Protection from splashing water and sweat. 
5 Bar waterproof (5 ATM)  Rain, showering, washing hands or dishes is harmless.  
10 Bar waterproof (10 ATM) Even more resistant - swimming and snorkeling is safe.  
20 Bar waterproof (20 ATM)  This is a diver's watch. You can dive up to 200m deep.  
30 Bar waterproof (30 ATM)  Allows diving up to 300 m deep.  
Source: Gentleman-watches.com

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Conclusion - waterproof watches should be used wisely 

Waterproofness is a great addition to the world of watches. Nowadays, most watches are waterproof to a certain point or at least water-resistant. However, the ultimate challenge in terms of water resistance still is the dive watch. With most dive watches, you can dive to depths of 200 meters without having to worry about your watch failing.

Rolex has once again taken the cake with the Deepsea Challenge, which is water resistant even at a depth of 11,000 meters.  

Nevertheless, caution is advised with diver's watches. Because of the enormous pressure that acts on them, these also have a greater wear. It is important to regularly check whether the seal of the watch still guarantees optimal water resistance, because over time the water resistance can deteriorate due to wear.  

In conclusion, dive watches are remarkable timepieces. They should be of interest to any passionate diver, and thanks to the hype around Rolex dive watches, they are also an interesting investment for collectors who do not dive. Even though they are no longer needed today due to technological innovations, they remain cult objects in the hearts of watch enthusiasts, plain and simple.

Scource cover image: Rolex


About the author

Autor bei Gentleman-watches

Alexander Weinberger

For me, the most fascinating thing about watches is the interplay between precise craftsmanship and artistic development. In a watch movement, hundreds of small parts have to be put together precisely so that they form a large whole.


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