Notes on Water-Resistance
Below is The Watchmaker Service Center’s general advice on the topic of watch water-resistance:
If your watch is not marked as water-resistant, never get it wet under any circumstances.
If your watch is rated to 50 meters/5bar or less, it should only be subject to accidental splash; hand washing, dishes, etc. Never submerge it intentionally.
If your watch is rated to 100 meters/10bar, it is suitable for surface swimming.
If your watch is rated 200 meters/20bar, it is suitable for skin diving.
If your watch is rated 300 meters/30bar or more, it is suitable for professional and/ or SCUBA diving.
A watch’s stated water-resistance rating is not permanent. Water & debris are kept out of watches by gaskets, and these gaskets can be expected to naturally deteriorate over time. As part of a service, or any time you have a quartz watch’s battery replaced, these sealing components should be thoroughly tested and replaced as appropriate and when possible. If you are planning to swim or dive with a watch, you should always have its water-resistance tested prior to submerging it. Make sure you bring your watch to a professional watchmaker that has the proper equipment to dry-test your watch for water-resistance and replace sealing components as needed. You should never wear a watch, no matter the rating, in warm or chemically treated water, such as in a hot tub, as both temperature and irritants can damage sealing components and/or compromise water-resistance.
This chart, from Oris, is an accurate guideline of what you should and should not do with your watch according to it’s water-resistance rating
A Note From the Desk of the Owner
Over the course of my nearly three decades in the watch repair business, I have seen, without exaggeration, thousands of incoming repairs from every brand and at every price-point filled with water and rust, all of them marked water-resistant. It does not matter how much the watch cost, it does not matter what water-resistance rating the manufacturer proclaims the watch to be capable of, it does not matter what the original salesperson told you, or what level of underwater performance you’ve seen discussed in internet forum groups, it does not matter that it is a precious family heirloom;
Personally, I would never get any watch that I cared about and could not replace wet.
We are certainly able to, and have many, many times in the past, helped to service any timepiece that became flooded or otherwise water-damaged. Such repairs often involve replacing numerous components not typically replaced as a part of a comprehensive service; the crystal, dial, hands, and movement can all be easily water-damaged. These overhauls are typically far more expensive and labor-intensive than a typical repair.
If you like your watch, take it off.