Waterproof vs water-resistant watches – what’s the difference?

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If you’re unsure about the difference between a waterproof and water-resistant watch, then you’re not alone! It’s a common misconception that water-resistant watches are completely safe in all types of water, but that’s not the case.

If you’re anything like us here at the Case Farm, you’ll want to take good care of your watches. Before you take your new watch for a deep dive into the depths of the ocean, make sure you read our complete guide to waterproof and water-resistant watches.

Waterproof vs water-resistant watches: the key differences

Waterproof watches are often thought to be completely impervious to water, but that’s not necessarily the case. Waterproof watches, over time, will become affected by water damage if repeatedly exposed. This is why the term ‘water-resistant’ is more commonly used for marketing watches in 2019. If you’ve got an old watch that was once classified as waterproof, it’s probably best to avoid any swimming with it, but splashes may be fine.

Water-resistant means the watch has some protection from water, but water-resistant is not a universal rating. In fact, many watches will have different water-resistant ratings which will determine the amount of water activity you can do with them.

Can I go in the pool with a water-resistant watch?

Again, this really depends on the rating. Typically, it’s safer to take your watch in a swimming pool due to the lack of saltwater and changing water pressure. If you want to take your water-resistant watch into the pool, or the ocean, check its rating and depth limitations.

Water-resistant ratings explained

If the numbers are confusing, here’s what they really mean. Any vague mentions of water resistance should be taken lightly, and it’s best to avoid getting it wet.


  • Water-resistant to 30m or 3 Bar/Atmospheres. Despite the 30 meters suggestion, a watch that is resistant to 30m is actually just splash resistant. This just means it has been tested to 30m. It is not recommended that you take these watches swimming.
  • Water-resistant to 50m or 5 Bar/Atmospheres. You can swim with a 50m watch, but it’s recommended swimming is kept to a minimum to prevent long-term damage to your prized possession.
  • Water-resistant to 100m or 10 Bar/Atmospheres. A watch that boasts 100m water-resistance is great for snorkelling activities, but certainly not diving.
  • Water-resistant to 200m or 20 Bar/Atmospheres. 200 meters might seem like a long way down, but a 200m watch shouldn’t be taken on diving expeditions. You can, however, swim or snorkel with it.
  • Water-resistant to 300m or 30 Bar/Atmospheres. You should be able to take this watch diving, although it is not certified to the standard of an ISO 6425 (diver’s watch).
  • Diver’s watch or ISO 6425. An ISO rating normally comes with a depth alongside it (100m, 200m, 300m etc.) which means your watch is certified by the manufacturer to handle these depths. They’re designed specifically for scuba divers, so any diving activity that isn’t saturation diving is considered safe by the watchmaker.
  • Diver’s watch ISO 6425 over 300m. An ISO rating over 300meters is often suitable for saturation diving (diving in a helium enriched environment).

Finding the best water-resistant and waterproof watches

If you’re on the lookout for a new water-resistant watch to add to your collection, we’ve hand-picked our absolute favourites in our 10 of the best waterproof watches on the market today.

To keep your watch collection safe at home or on the road, don’t forget to shop To The Hours new watch case collection featuring the Peli 10x Watch Case and the sturdy Peli 3x Watch Case, amongst many more. They’re completely waterproof, shockproof and crushproof, so you can take extra care of your beloved collection. If you’re just getting started, here are some of the best watches to kick-start your collection.

Discover To the hour

The new range of Peli watch cases created with protective foam inserts.

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