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The issue of water resistance was always significant matter, as international markings are pretty ambiguous. That is why we try to offer you, Dear Reader, some useful hints:
A watch is water resistant of its case, its winding button and crystal are manufactured in a way to protect the mechanism from external materials, such as water, air, dust and volatile substances. This way a mechanism built into a water resistant case is protected from exterior actions, i.e. corrosion or wearing due to dust friction. Oil remains stable and acids, volatile substances, dust, etc. do not cause premature oil decomposition.
In spite of employing first class materials and the latest production technologies it is not possible to protect watches from water penetration. Reasons for this can be its exquisite shape, a flat structure or the price-value ratio. Watches are manufactured out of different parts (crystal, case, back panel) that are made of different materials. This makes it difficult to achieve an optimal sealing.
Almost all watch-makers guarantee that their products are water resistant, if the watch is supplied with a water resistant marking (water resistant 100m or more on the back panel or the clock-face). If a watch is marked only with statements such as “water resistant“, “water resist” or “water protected”, the given watch is suitable only for a common every day employment (protected against water drops and rain). In this case there is no guarantee for damages caused by water.
Depending on the marking placed on the back panel or the clock-face of the watch the water resistance of the casing can be classified as follows (NIHS 91-10, ISO 2281 vagy DIN 8310):
No marking on the back panel / face plate (not water resistant)
» Such a watch must be protected from environmental influences!
WATER RESIST (water tight) *
» Such a watch is protected only against water drops.
WATER RESISTANT 30M or 3 ATM (water tight 30m) *
» It is allowed to wear the watch during e.g. car washing, bathing, taking a shower, mountain climbing, skydiving, hang-gliding or skiing. The watch is sweat, condensation and rain drops resistant.
WATER RESISTANT 50M or 5 ATM (water tight 50m) *
» It is allowed to wear the watch during e.g. swimming, car washing, bathing, taking a shower, mountain climbing, skydiving, hang-gliding or skiing. The watch is sweat, condensation and rain drops resistant.
WATER RESISTANT 100M or 10 ATM (water tight 100m)
» It is allowed to wear the watch during water sports, mountain climbing, skydiving, hang-gliding or skiing. The watch is sweat, condensation and rain drops resistant.
WATER RESISTANT 200M or 20 ATM (water tight 200m)
» It is allowed to wear the watch during diving (without oxygen bottle), water sports, mountain climbing, skydiving, hang-gliding or skiing. The watch is sweat, condensation and rain drops resistant.
WATER RESISTANT 300M or 30 ATM (water tight 300m)
» It is allowed to wear the watch during diving (with oxygen bottle), water sports, mountain climbing, skydiving, hang-gliding or skiing. The watch is sweat, condensation and rain drops resistant.
* This kind of watch is suitable only for a regular everyday usage and cannot be used under circumstances in with water pressure and temperature show frequent and significant changes.
Fundamentals for the treatment of water resistant watches
– Protect your watch from blows, falling down, dust and humidity. Avoid major temperature changes, e.g. sauna, dish washing sink, washing your hands with very hot or very cold water.
– If your watch gets damp or dirty, it is enough to wipe it with a soft cloth. The unavoidably occurring sweat, dirt, water and grease traces can damage in the long term the material of the casing.
– Have maintenance performed in an official service at least once a year. If a watch has to be opened, require a water resistance test to be done.
– Never use detergent when maintaining your watch, because these substances can damage the gilding, the synthetic parts, the polishing and the sealing.
– If you have a diving watch and had it tested for water resistance, we recommend you to rinse it with fresh water after using it in sea water. Do not touch the winding button as long as it is in the water!
– Do never try to open the case or to unscrew the back plate! In a contrary case all watch manufacturers will decline all warranty demands!
How does a watch become water resistant?
Manufacturing plants do everything possible to avoid the penetration of water or air into the casing by using e.g. single-unit casing, where the back plate and the middle part are built together (Monocoque). In other water resistant watches the back plate is screwed and water resistance is ensured by a sealing. The crystal is pressed onto the middle part. Cheaper plastic watches show a good water resistance due to their compact plastic casing.
The sealing of the winding button is another thing and can be achieved with a precise sealing and an exact fitting of the winding button into the middle part of the casing. Diver watches have screwed winding buttons and an extra thick crystal in a metal ring.
If a watch was originally not water resistant, in many cases this feature cannot later be altered.
Watches with screwed winding button
If the winding button is attached to the casing through a thread, we talk about a screwed winding button. This solution resembles the screwed back plate but it has a rubber winding button seal. Watches with screwed winding buttons are water resistant only if the winding button is tightly screwed in. (After setting the hands the winding button must be pressed back into the casing and screwed in at the same time.)
Avoiding water caused damages – Checking water resistance
Water resistance is not a permanent feature. The crystal, the winding button and the seals are aging and wear off in time. Condensing water under the crystal is a clear sign that moisture penetrated into the inner part of the watch. Often is a blow enough, e.g. at the winding button, for a micro-crack to appear where moisture finds its way into the inner part of the watch.
Only regular maintenance and proper care can warrant the conservation of water resistance.
Have your watch checked in our service centre before the start of each swimming/diving season! This way you can save high repair costs.
Pay attention to having only competent personnel do the maintenance, because no watchmaker shall assume warranty obligations, if the instructions regarding the replacement of batteries or those regarding maintenance were not complied with. That is precisely why you should leave the maintenance of your watch to a watch shop that possesses the necessary expertise. If the battery of a quartz-watch was replaced, have a water resistance test done!
- Room temperature always contains some moisture traceable with a hygrometer. If a watch is sealed in a room containing an X quantity of moisture, the interior of the watch will surely contain a certain amount of air including some moisture contained in it. Because this means only a few per thousand grams of water, there is no need to worry about.
- The moisture content of the air is restricted by the air absorbed mass which is highly dependent on temperature
- Air becomes saturated at the so-called „moisture peak“.
- Should this peak be exceeded, the water surplus sweats out in form of dew drops on the coldest parts (crystal and back plate). This “dew” is nothing else than the condensed “steam”.
- Synthetic crystals are unbroken and hydroscopic, i.e. that they can absorb water. Under normal temperature conditions the steam described under paragraph 3 can evaporate in 8 to 14 days. This institutes a balance between the moisture content outside the watch and the moisture content inside it.
- Therefore it has no sense to seal watches in a perfectly dry atmosphere, because in a week the air inside the watch will contain exactly as much moisture as the air outside it.
If a water resistant watch is severely chilled, the moisture existing in the interior of the watch condenses as very fine „mist“ on the coolest parts (crystal and back plate). This very fine „mist“ that appears as a veil under the crystal does not jeopardise the mechanism if the watch was not exposed to low temperatures or to rapidly changing temperature sequences (warm-cold-warm-cold) for too long. This steam will quickly evaporate when the watch returns to being worn under normal conditions.
In case of a watch which for some reason is not perfectly water tight the same process shows a completely different aspect:
When coming in touch with water or when the person wearing it sweats heavily, a small amount of water can penetrate into the case. In time the water existing inside the watch gets condensed in form of a blur on the inner side of the crystal.
This blur car precipitate on the mechanism or on the inner side of the back plate. If the steam appears in the form of small water drops, the watch is definitely not hermetic. This type of condensation is a lot stronger and more intense than its previous form. Therefore it is recommended to take the watch as soon as possible to a professional service and hand it in for repair.