These are two terminologies that we tend to overlook, but it’s important to understand the slightly confusing semantics of “proof” and “resistant” before acquiring that timepiece.
Water-resistant watches typically have a set depth and pressure for which they can function before soaking it in. The average watches have a range of 30 to 200 meters or 3 to 20 Atmospheres. (ATM).
A 30-meter water-resistant watch is impermeable against rain, splashes, and sea spay exposure, but it is not suitable for swimming or bathing.
50-meter resistance will mean that you can take quick swims and accidental water exposure for more extended periods.
A 100-meter resistant watch is perfect for unlimited swimming. You can use it in pools and other water sport activities.
A 200-meter water-resistant regatta is the best watch for sailing, as it can withstand shallow diving and physically demanding water sports. Beyond the 200-meter water resistance are diving watches, which conform to ISO 6425 regulations. These are overkill for sailing (unless you plan on going spear-fishing on the seafloor).
As you have guessed, waterproof watches are only resistant to accidental water splashes and should not be seriously considered for sailing expeditions.
The watch you take has to conform to the type of on-water activities you have planned.
For a leisure sailor who regularly uses a small sailing boat or a dinghy, a Limit sports watch may cater to your needs. It would offer 100-meter water resistance with a slim, stylish profile. It won’t knock against the boat trim or be too bulky next to your shirt cuffs.
When it comes to purchasing your masterpiece, the market will flood you with behemoth watch models that carry yacht-sized prize tags. It might even claim to control the Infinity Gauntlet, putting Thanos to shame.
For an average sailor, these bells and whistles will be over the top, though.
The higher the price, the more you will be able to do with your watch. It is not recommended that you spend over $500. It’s unnecessary, and you’ll be able to find a watch with an array of features that will serve you well for an everyday sail at far more affordable prices.
When it comes to watches, we tend to choose the look that enhances our wardrobe. A sailing watch should be solely based on function rather than visual aesthetics, though.
For a taste of class and fashion, you may choose a fabric or stainless-steel band watch, but you have to acknowledge that these bands wear out quicker than silicon due to the salt. Leather-based bands are out of scope for sailing—it is organic and, if soaked in seawater, warps, and reacts badly with some skin types.
The array of options available still points to a silicone strap watch as the best watch for sailing. It has hardwearing physical properties, versatility, and unrivaled ability to deflect dirt, sea spray, and other debris during a sail.
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