what does water resistant mean

What Does Water-Resistant Mean For Watches? Our Guide

We all expect our watches to be water-resistant nowadays, but have you ever stopped to think exactly what does water resistant mean for watches?

In one watch collection, you may have timepieces that cannot withstand a single splash alongside diver watches that are water-resistant to over 30m.

The question is: is water resistance as simple as it sounds? Can a watch with 30 ATM truly survive being submerged 30m underwater?

Let’s find out!

What Does Water Resistant Mean?


We see water resistance labels everywhere, usually ranging from 5 ATM to 50 ATM, but what is water resistant?

Water resistance is a measure of how well a watch can handle being exposed to water. 

This can range from a zero-tolerance measurement to one that permits full submersion.

When you read the specification of a watch product, it is important to note that the water resistance section merely communicates a general idea of how well the watch will cope with water. 

You should not follow this rating too closely, as it is not as literal as it may seem.

For a watch to receive a water resistance rating, it needs to undergo a static pressure test in a scientific laboratory. This gives a vague idea of how much water exposure is safe.


watch in water

There are three key units of measurement employed for water resistance. At first glance, this can be confusing. However, we are here to simplify it all.

Firstly, many watches are described as having a certain amount of ATM. This refers to physical atmosphere, so it tells us how much pressure the watch can withstand. ATM was once used frequently in countries such as Germany and Austria, but it was replaced by the bar in 1977. 1 ATM is the average pressure at sea level, and it is equivalent to around 1.01325 bars.

Secondly, the bar is a metric measurement of pressure. One bar is just below the earth’s atmospheric pressure at sea level.

Finally, we sometimes refer to water resistance in terms of metres. In fact, this is perhaps the most common unit of measurement used in 2021.

To reiterate, water resistance ratings are not exact, so a watch boasting 50m water resistance is not guaranteed to function after being submerged under water to a depth of 50m.

The general rule for most watches is that they function better when kept out of water. Unless specifically specified, avoid exposing your watch to water for long periods of time.

If you purchase a watch that is labelled water resistant but with no specific unit of measurement, you should behave as though it can only withstand splashes.

Levels Of Water Resistance

watch in water

Now we know the water resistant meaning, you may be curious about the guidelines for each specific unit of measurement.

What Does Water Resistant Up To 3 ATM Mean?

These watches are splash-proof and that is all. They can cope with being in the shower if you take great care of them. However, it is preferable to only expose these watches to water if they are brand new, owing to the fact that the seal wears down over time and loses its water resistance.

What Does Water Resistant 5 ATM Mean?

5 ATM/Bars/Metres: A watch that is water resistant to 5m is splash-proof and fully functioning in the shower, swimming pool or sea. 5 ATM or 5 bars resembles the level of pressure in a household tap.

What Does Water Resistant Up To 10 ATM Mean?

10 ATM/Bars/Metres: You can take a 10m water resistant watch with you to mild water-based activities such as swimming and snorkelling, but not to extreme water sports.

What Does Water Resistant Up To 20 ATM Mean?

20 ATM/Bars/Metres: With these watches, you can enjoy some high-energy water sports such as surfing, but avoid the most extreme varieties.

What Does Water Resistant Up To 30 ATM Mean?

30 ATM/Bars/Metres: Finally, if your timepiece is water resistant to 30m or over, you will be pleased to know that the rules are minimal! You can wear these watches while engaging in extreme water sports such as scuba diving.

What Does 200m Water Resistant Mean?

Many luxury watches are advertised as having 100m or 200m water resistance. While you should always be careful with your watch around water, this generally means that your watch will be safe on your wrist during a full day at the beach, water sports included.

As always, take great care with exposing your watch to water; try to do it as infrequently as possible, especially if your watch has low water resistance.

Advice For Owning A Water Resistant Watch


While some people ask the simple question of ‘what does a water resistant watch mean?’, others understand the definition yet do not know how to look after their water resistant timepiece.

If you regularly expose any watch to water, it is bound to deteriorate faster.

To avoid this, you should leave your watch at home when necessary.

Additionally, always rinse it with tap water after a day at the beach to reduce the negative effects of seawater on the mechanism.

Our Final Thoughts

what does water resistant mean

So, what does it mean when a watch is water resistant?

To sum up today’s article, it means a watch is still capable of performing well after being submerged in water. Depending on the rating, different watches will react to water exposure in different ways.

At Uniform Wares, we know that water resistance should be offered in every modern watch, so all our timepieces are water-resistant to at least 5 ATM. Why not purchase one for your next holiday? Browse our watches for sale today.

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