Countless times we have seen watch collectors post questions across the different watch forums regarding the water resistance of their watches and whether they can shower or swim with them. Some of the most common posts relate to questions like: Can I shower or swim with my Royal Oak? Can I shower with my Rolex Submariner?
'Water Resistance' and 'Waterproof' are two terms that are commonly interchangeably used by the different watch manufactures depending on the type of testing that the watch has undergone or even at their discretion. In the context of the textile industry, these two terms mean two completely different things, where 'water resistant' refers to 'water repellant' more so than waterproofing.
When it comes to watches, it is really a matter of semantics and the type of testing that the watches have gone through. Per the ISO standards, watches that have been tested under the ISO 2281 Horology, need to be labeled as 'Water Resistant', while those that have been tested under the ISO 6425 Divers' Watches International Standard can be labeled 'Waterproof' and be referred to as Diving or Diver's Watch.
While the ISO doesn't allow the use of the word 'Waterproof' unless the watch has undergone the ISO 6425 Divers' testing, at the end of the day the manufactures end up using the words interchangeably. For instance, Audemars Piguet uses the word 'Water Resistance' even though the Royal Oak Offshore Diver has undergone the ISO 6425 Divers' Watches International Standard. Another perfect example of this is Rolex who uses 'Water Resistance' and underneath 'Waterproof' when stating the 3,900 meters depth rating for the Sea-Dweller Deepsea, clearly one of the most robust diving watches. In reality, both watches mentioned before, should have had 'Waterproof' instead of 'Water Resistance' as they have achieved the higher level of testing. Please click on the images below to see for yourself.
'Water Resistance' refers to making objects relatively unaffected by water or resisting the ingress of water under specified conditions —depth, time of immersion, length of exposure, etc.. 'Waterproof' means making an object virtually impervious to water.
To make matters even worse, the words 'Depth Rating' are commonly used and are directly correlated to 'water resistance' and 'waterproofing' sometimes creating more confusion amongst inexperienced watch owners. Usually specified in atmospheres —ATM—, BAR, meters or feet— and very common across different watch brands, 'Depth Rating' refers to the maximum depth guaranteed by the manufacture, before water will ingress the timepiece. If the watch says 'Water Resistant' and is accompanied by a 'Depth Rating' —let's say 5 ATM—, this means that you can rest assured that no water will ingress the timepiece until the watch goes past a depth of 5 ATM, 5 BAR, 50 meters, 164 feet or its equivalent atmospheric pressure even if the watch is submersed at a depth of a few centimeters while getting pressure tested.
Often, people will think that a water resistant watch is only safe while in the rain, while washing your hands or showering regardless of its depth rating. However, that is completely incorrect and very misleading. If your watch indicates that is water resistant to a depth of 50 meters —such as it is the case of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400ST— and you follow the manufacture's instructions regarding regular pressure testing and maintaining the crown properly secured or screwed in if the watch is fitted with a screw-down crown, rest assured that showering or taking a swim with it will do no harm.
Now keep in mind that unless the watch is labeled as a Diver's watch, you shouldn't be diving with it. Furthermore if you swim with your watch in saltwater, always make sure to thoroughly rinse it with fresh water.
Now, enjoy these images we prepared for you while we got our Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15400ST.OO.1220ST.02 properly wet while having fun at the pool.
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