Water Resistance Ratings

By on 04/07/2014

????????????????????????????????????????????I love my dive watches, for their looks as well as professed toughness and water resistance. However, even though I hardly ever go close to water, a fact that irks me is that there seems to be no consensuses on what Water Resistance Ratings really means?

Does 10 meters mean I can take it with me to the shower or does 200 meters without an ISO-certification mean it shouldn’t be taken along while diving? There surely is a lot of confusion with this. What do these resistance ratings really mean? Find out.

To begin understanding the concept, we must get clear on the units of measures. Pressure gets measured in ATMs and is easier to understand in measures such as meters or feet as those are the terms we generally use to measure depth and also because it is easy to convert atmospheric pressure to depth.

1 ATM is the surface and 2 ATM is 33 feet and 3 ARM is 66 feet and so on. Moreover, 1 meter is comparable to 3.28 feet.

The ISO has set forth a different standard for watches. The first ISO 2281 was introduced in 1990 and covered all casual, daily-wear watches that were fit for swimming, hand washing and showering but not for greater pressures and diving. Watches that fall in this category can be immersed at 10 centimeters depth for an hour. Moreover, it also contains a temperature shock test to do an overpressure test or a test against condensation.

The ISO 6425 was written for dive watches and covered more extreme depths. These start at 30 cm, perform condensation testing, perform temperature shock and overpressure at 125% of the pressure.

The biggest issue with these ratings is that there is nothing that forms as a compulsory requirement for watch manufacturers to comply with the ISO testing. While the manufacturer may chose to do so, bu there is absolutely no requirement. They can perform their own similar tests or the IP water resistance test (sort of test for products like consumer electronics).

It should also be noted that most watches are tested in air pressure chambers and not water. Thus, the makes it a little difficult when the watches face the real water. Some watch makers, however, also test their watches in water pressure tanks.

While it is not a good idea to swim or shower with a watch rates at 30 M or 3 ATM, but it also depends on the manufacturer. For example, smart watch manufacturers Meta and Pebble both rate their watches at 3 or 5 ATM and its absolutely ok to swim with them on. However, the 1500 M rated watch with no Helium Release Valve isMaranez Diving Watches - Racha 1 probably only tested statically in a pressure vacuum and not practical to be used for diving.

On a personal choice, I recommend buying cheap, reliable and legible watches as a backup to a dive computer. After all, the most important use of the dive watch is to come back safely and not just look fashionable underwater.

To conclude, watches with 30 or 50 M water resistance are fine for activities such as hand washing. Watches with 100 M of water resistance are fine inside the swimming pools. At 200 M you can take it for ocean swimming and activities like snorkeling. A 300 M water resistant watch can be used for professional diving assuming it is legible enough. Beyond this mark, the 500 M or 1000 M might sound cool but are not really very useful to majority of people.

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