How to get moisture out of a watch
Getting moisture inside your watch is something that can happen even if you had not taken your watch near water (more on that later).
This is just another reason why you need to know how to remove the condensation from a watch quickly before it messes with the inner workings of your timepiece.
That said, it is not every time that you'll need a trip to the watch repair shop. You can get rid of these droplets of water from inside your watch without having to remove the back case or open it up at all.
How do you get water out of a watch?
These five tips are sure to get your watch back to normal in no time.
Tip #1 – Use absorbents
You don’t need to go order some absorbents right now. You can use common items like uncooked rice, silica gel, or even cat litter to absorb the moisture.
Here’s what you should do:
- Pour the absorbent of choice (uncooked rice is highly preferred, followed by silica gel and cat litter) into an airtight container.
- Wrap the watch (especially the face) in cotton wool. This process is to prevent scratches against the watch glass but it can be skipped.
- Gently take your watch and place it inside the container, sealing it shut.
- Leave the watch for 2-3 days.
- The moisture should evaporate/ be absorbed into the absorbent material at this time.
P.S. You can find silica gel in the packaging of shoes, belts and other materials that come in boxes.
Tip #2 – Time for a Tan
Getting some moisture inside the watch might be the timepiece’s way of wanting to spend some time in the sun.
- Pull the watch crown. Removing the back is a much better approach here if you know what you are doing.
- Take your watch outside: face up if the crown only is pulled and face down if the back case is removed.
- The sun evaporates the condensation on the watch via the open channels.
Tip #3 – Other Heat Sources
Sunlight might be a good idea but we will agree that it takes some time to remove condensation from the watch.
So, you might want to consider other heat sources.
Note that, for removing condensation in your watch this way, you will most likely have to remove the back of the watch too. We have a detailed guide to doing that right here.
Once you have removed the back of the watch:
- Place your watch underneath a lamp for a few hours during the day/ overnight. The heat from the bulb (in the lamp) is concentrated to remove condensation inside the case.
- Use an everyday hairdryer to blow some hot air towards the watch. Blow from the back, and don’t get the blow dryer too close to the watch
- Another related method is to simply leave the watch in a warm place.
Never try to put your watch in a microwave or oven, for example, to remove the condensation. The temperature in such machines could put your watch in need of a bigger, costlier fix – if not outright damage.
These methods here should be carefully applied lest you cause more damage to the inner workings, glass, band, or other parts of the watch.
Tip #4 – Removing the watch back
The other approaches to removing condensation have so far assumed that you have only a small bit of moisture in the watch.
They might not work for a larger presence of condensation, so this is where you have to remove the watch back.
- Remove the back of the watch properly
- Set the watch under the sun to dry or other low-heat conditions to get rid of the fog. A fan can also get the job done here.
- Couple the watch back when it’s done
A faster alternative for those who know their way around watches is to decouple the entire engine/ dial, wipe the fog off with a soft cloth and replace everything.
Tip #5 – Go to a Repair Shop
If all else fails or you just don’t want to risk ruining anything inside the watch, go to a repair shop. This is assuming the watchmaker is not present in your locale – and the cost of shipping the watch to them for fixing is not worth it.
Most shops use one of the methods on this list, only extensively. They simply:
- Take the watch apart entirely
- Put it under a lamp heat to dry all the moisture out of the dial, crystal, movement, and other inner parts.
- Couple the watch back when they are done and hand it to you.
Depending on the kind of watch and the complexity of getting into it, this should not cost more than a few tens of dollars.
What causes moisture on your watch face?
Like we said earlier, there are a couple of other things that can cause condensation without you having even been near water with the watch.
Some of the most common cases are from:
When you take something really cold out of the refrigerator, it starts gaining heat after a while and some droplets form on the body.
That is the same thing that happens to your watch when you use it outside for long in winter.
On getting to a warm place, the watch crystal gains heat and the droplets form on the inside as condensation.
Some watches are built with a special seal to keep this kind of issue at bay.
The water resistance rating that your watchmaker slapped on that watch could be correct, but people interpret it wrongly.
Some go swimming with a 50m water-resistant watch or enter the rain with a 30m-rated timepiece. The fact that the watch did not stop working at all is proof that it has some water resistance, but is not waterproof.
Understand the water-resistance ratings on your watch, what they mean, and you might never have to deal with condensation problems of this form.
Pressing the buttons on a true water-resistant watch while in water can cause damage from the seal breaking.
You see, in its former form, the watch was keeping the moisture out. When you pressed a button, the depressed part of the watch opens up a small hole that allows tiny droplets to get in.
Since everything else is locked down, the droplets get heated up inside the watch and they form moisture (read: condensation) on the watch crystal.
Almost like in the case of the water usage section above, not screwing down the watch crown before going near water is a disaster waiting to happen.
Even if the watch has a 1000m resistance rating, leaving the crown pulled opens up the watch's defenses.
Much like the winter case above, hot showers also cause condensation.
The inner watch face is sealed shut and will be at a constant temperature. Showering with hot water heats the air within the watch. When this air cools down, it forms droplets instead of just returning to how things are.
Now, you have to open your watch to fix it.
Lack of water resistance
This goes without saying.
If your watch doesn’t come with water resistance capabilities, do not take it underwater. Ever.
Check out some of our men’s and women’s watches here at Nordgreen. They have all been fitted with water resistance at varying capacities and will withstand damage quite effectively.
Crack on Watch
If there is a small crack on your watch, that is enough to let in some moisture and cause condensation on the watch surface.
What does water resistance mean on a watch?
The mistake that most watch users make is thinking the terms ‘water resistant’ and ‘waterproof’ are the same.
A water-resistant watch has been built to withstand water at varying levels of immersion and exposure, but will still get damaged by water if care is not taken.
Watchmakers generally put a rating on their watches to let users know to what depth the watch can perform before succumbing to water damage. Thus, these kinds of watches are only protected against water sprays, splashes, and brief immersion.
Waterproof watches, however, will keep any form of moisture at bay no matter what. As long as you don’t have an opening on them, the crown isn’t pulled and the seal hasn’t been tampered with, they can be used anyhow you’d like around water. From showering to swimming, snorkeling, and diving, the choice is yours.
That said, no watch is truly waterproof.
Watches with, say, a 300 – 1000m water resistance rating can be marketed as being waterproof since most people won’t attain such depths. However, they are better rightly classified as water-resistant instead.
Keep your watch safe
Once you have removed the condensation from your watch with any of the suggested methods above, make sure to keep your watch safer next time.
If working/ living in humid regions, consider leaving the watch at home or getting a better-suited one. Avoid getting in the shower with a mildly water-resistant watch, fix all cracks on your watches, check that the crown is also pressed down, and service your watch regularly.
Do these and you reduce the chances of ever needing a guide like this one again