Most watches have some resistance to water. If they didn’t, they would break every time they were splashed by raindrops. However, some timepieces are more waterproof than others and can be used when swimming or diving.

Watches are rated based on their water-resistance, and there are different ways to express this, including BAR and ATM. The most common scale used to measure resistance is ATMs (which stands for atmospheres). 1 ATM equals the equivalent pressure at a sea level, so this scale indicates how deep your watch can be submerged in water, and still function. 

Every watch will have a water resistance rating on the back of its clock face, so it is important to check this and understand what your watch’s limits are when it comes to being near water. Below is a useful guide, explaining these ratings in detail.


If you want to buy a watch and it does not have a water-resistant rating on it, then it’s probably not worth your money. When a wristwatch lacks a water rating, this means that any water could damage it. If you do own a watch like this, take it off before showering and try to avoid getting it wet when you wash your hands.  


Most wristwatches have a water rating of 3 ATM. This means that it is protected against rain and should be fine if you accidentally splash, or spill a little bit of water on it. However, it’s definitely not resistant enough for you to wear it while exercising or swimming.


If you have a watch with a rating of 5 ATM, this means that you should be able to take a shower with it on, and it won’t get damaged. However, do this with caution. Hot water can be damaging to watches’ calibers, and if your watch is under warm water for too long it could affect it. A watch with a 5 ATM rating definitely gives you more freedom with where you wear it, but it isn’t completely waterproof.


Assuming you’re an avid swimmer or snorkeler, a watch with a resistance rating of 10 ATM is the one for you! You should be able to do some laps in a pool wearing this or even go snorkeling close to the sea’s surface level.  


A watch with a 20 ATM rating is seriously waterproof and can function in most wet settings. You may assume that with a 20 ATM resistance rating, you can go deep-sea diving. However, the amount of pressure that this would put on your watch means that a specifically made diving watch would be better for this activity. 

A watch with a 20 ATM rating will allow you to swim under the water for a decent amount of time and not have to worry about your watch breaking. However, it’s important to remember that the movement of arms when swimming can create more pressure, which could be worse for your watch. If you want to do some serious deep-sea swimming, it could be worth investing in a special timepiece made specifically for that.

October 21, 2020 by Christopher Day

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