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Watch water resistance myths

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  • teotwawki wrote: »
    3ATM is the lowest mark available and basically supersedes the old WR (splashproof) mark. The majority of the industry is in agreement that this mark is to be used when a watch is nominally water resistant, not suitable for swimming.

    [Interesting list of watch manufacturers who give (very) conservative WR interpretation]

    A small number of manufacturers differ. And recommendations have changed over time. If in doubt, go with the manufacturer rating at the time your watch was made.

    The 3ATM label is what is throwing you. It would be less confusing if they used IP ratings, or simply successive "levels" of water resistance. You are looking at 3ATM and conflating that with a watch that is rated to dive to 30m. This is not the case. It's not what it means. 3ATM is a mark that (most) watch brands use to denote a watch with the lowest level of water resistance (aside from none), unsuitable for swimming.

    A very interesting list of manufacturers Teo - personally I'm disappointed that Seiko has given such a (in my view) misleading interpretation of what their 3ATM watches are actually most likely fine to be doing.

    I don't know if you know I've got my own watch brand too so I am very aware of what the various tests for water resistance, standards and what they mean for actual use.

    Let's go back to basics - would you agree that 3ATM marked on a watch from a reputable company (one that is likely to be compliant with ISO 22810) means that:
    A 3ATM watch (batch sampled) would need at least to have passed a 5ATM overpressure (and 5ATM watch passing a 7ATM overpressure test) for 10 minutes and survived at least being immersed in 10cm of water for at least an hour.

    (this is the ISO standard for being able to mark a watch with 3ATM - I've posted the link to a sample pdf of the standard itself).

    If you agree with that - can you explain why you think a watch model that has passed that test won't be able to survive being used in swimming conditions? I accept that certain individual units of a particular model may fail due to bad QC/manufacturing - but as a whole the model that is rated for 3ATM is more than capable to be taken swimming.


    Now on the other hand - can companies be conservative and state that even the watches marked 200m WR should not be taken scuba diving? Yes, of course - Seiko actually does that in your supplied link (apparently to them their 20 BAR marked watches are only okay for skin diving):
    https://www.seikowatches.com/global-en/customerservice/faq/general-information-8

    ^ the reasoning for Seiko on that front is most likely due to them not wanting to give a blanket guarantee (not that any manufacturer I know of gives a blanket guarantee) that their 20 BAR watches may not have had a manufacturing defect and are unsuitable to be taken to 12m underwater (silly in my opinion).

    So being conservative protects you - I can equally state that I don't recommend handwashing with a Sólás watch with less than 300m WR - it doesn't mean that this is actually what the watch can handle in terms of water.

    The ISO rating does not make any judgements about appropriate use scenarios - it only gives a standard of testing i.e.
    A 3ATM watch (batch sampled) would need at least to have passed a 5ATM overpressure (and 5ATM watch passing a 7ATM overpressure test) for 10 minutes and survived at least being immersed in 10cm of water for at least an hour.

    For Sólás this standard indicates to me that 3ATM is more than sufficient to handle swimming or showering (as long as the seals have been maintained and watch hasn't been tinkered with - but that applies to a 20ATM or DIVER'S 20ATM (so ISO6425) watch also).




  • teotwawki wrote: »
    No. I literally just posted half a dozen links where manufacturers explain what their WR ratings mean, including very clearly stating that a watch with 3ATM mark is not suitable for swimming. So your point has no basis in reality, nor common sense.

    Have you any actual practical experience with water sports and activities? Your aggressive know-it-all tone has me wondering.

    Before moving to Ireland, I had half a lifetime of water based activities involving both fresh and salt water, including swimming, snorkelling, SCUBA diving, water skiing, and sailboarding. I'm not talking some brief hollidy flits with these activities, I'm talking years of dedicated pursuit. So 'reality' and water resistance of watches I have some experience with.

    I have used a 50m water resistant watch to 38m in the sea and a 100m water resistant watch for a decade sailboarding in salt water with some diving to 10m. Nether leaked or had issues.

    Interesting those specs, shows how the manufacturers are moving the goal posts. I have two 100m WR Citizen eco-drives. The booklet for the 1993 one says 10-20 bar WR is ok for skin diving and a 200m WR watch is ok for SCUBA, whereas the more recent, roughly 2004 one doesn't allow for scuba with any rating on the table. Maybe there is a different table in the booklet with more water resistant divers models.

    I think a watch manufacturer might have a problem proving you scuba dove with a watch rated for swimming.




  • Thirdfox wrote: »
    I don't know if you know I've got my own watch brand too so I am very aware of what the various tests for water resistance, standards and what they mean for actual use.
    If you make a watch that you advertise as suitable for swimming but not diving, what would be your reaction if I said "Thirdfox is actually wrong, that watch can go to 300m no bother."

    Because that's the crux of the issue. The majority of the watch industry (I listed 7 for brevity) have agreed on a set of labels and how they pertain to the performance of the watch. They are in agreement that the mark 3ATM - the lowest available - should be applied to a watch that is not suitable for swimming.

    And you are saying that they're ALL wrong.




  • teotwawki wrote: »
    If you make a watch that you advertise as suitable for swimming but not diving, what would be your reaction if I said "Thirdfox is actually wrong, that watch can go to 300m no bother."
    That would be a ridiculous comparison.

    He is saying that a watch tested and rated as per the ISO; I]a 3ATM watch (batch sampled) would need at least to have passed a 5ATM overpressure (and 5ATM watch passing a 7ATM overpressure test) for 10 minutes and survived at least being immersed in 10cm of water for at least an hour. [/I] would indeed be suitable for swimming and isn't merely "splash proof". 3 bar is 100 feet deep in old money. Not many swimmers are getting close to that depth and pressure, never mind if following the ISO the watch is exposed to an over pressure of 7 bar which is even deeper.

    So a watch would only be water resistant to splashes or rain, but could stay sealed under 100 feet of water? As he notes being conservative protects the manufacturer.

    Few enough were innocent in the past, few enough are innocent in the present, we just don’t know why yet.





  • Wibbs wrote: »
    That would be a ridiculous comparison.

    He is saying that a watch tested and rated as per the ISO; I]a 3ATM watch (batch sampled) would need at least to have passed a 5ATM overpressure (and 5ATM watch passing a 7ATM overpressure test) for 10 minutes and survived at least being immersed in 10cm of water for at least an hour. [/I] would indeed be suitable for swimming and isn't merely "splash proof". 3 bar is 100 feet deep in old money. Not many swimmers are getting close to that depth and pressure, never mind if following the ISO the watch is exposed to an over pressure of 7 bar which is even deeper.
    These are highly artificial tests. 1 watch out of 10,000 passing a single dry 3ATM test does not guarantee that the majority of watches from that batch of 10,000 can withstand regular & repeated real world water immersion.

    The experience of watchmakers is that a non-negligible percentage of these watches will suffer water ingress, merely from surface swimming.

    Therefore they state clearly that watches with the 3ATM rating are not suitable for swimming. They have higher marks available for watches which are suitable. That they choose not to apply those marks to some watches is not something to be ignored.


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  • Please watch this:



    One rated to 20 ATM one rated to 10. The latter according to the internets not suitable for proper diving. Observe the actual failure pressures. As for "highly artificial tests" note the above is water under pressure at simulated down to a couple of kilometres plus. *spoiler alert* the 20 ATM made it all the way to the bottom nearly 300 ATM and the caseback warped so much under that incredible pressure it stopped it working, but it didn't implode and didn't leak. The seals and case and crystal held. Oh and the 10ATM made to to over 200ATM before it gave up the ghost.

    And would this apply to 10 ATM watches that don't require individual case testing? Never mind that again water resistance is only "safe" for a new or recently properly serviced watch. A old watch with original seals rated to 200 metres might be OK, but it could fail before a brand new watch rated to 50.

    But it also depends on factors like basic design. EG this is my late 60's Lip diver's watch, rated to 200 and long before ISO standards and before it became illegal to claim "waterproof". A few years back with a new caseback seal, but with the original crown seals it flew through a 200 metre pressure test. Twice.

    545518.jpg

    I suspect the crown seals held because it was an early electronic watch so the crown wasn't constantly in use for winding/setting. A mechanical one may not have faired so well.

    That said I have an early 40's watch with the original worn out lead caseback seal and metal sealing crown that I have worn while fishing and often too. It's been dunked a goodly few times wading, releasing fish and the like and not a drop passed into it. I'd be 90% certain it wouldn't pass the ISO test for 5ATM. Actually I'd lay bets it wouldn't. If it did pass that test, I'd not give it a second thought for swimming.

    There was a poster hereabouts many years ago who had an early 1960's Omega Seamaster, a non diver "waterproof" watch who regularly went swimming with it in Dublin Bay IIRC and no damage. The engineering and sealing on that would be inferior to any good brand of today, never mind the many services it had down the years when it was opened.

    Again, if a watch design and a random example from the line from a good company passes a pressure test of 3ATM with an overpressure to 5ATM, it should be well able for more than a slight splash of rain.

    As for interwebs "truths" we can also read nonsense like swimming increases pressure on seals because of motion through the water so...

    Again as Thirdfox has said much of this comes down to manufacturers covering their arses. If they said a tested 3-5ATM was safe for swimming some muppet would try diving with it.

    Few enough were innocent in the past, few enough are innocent in the present, we just don’t know why yet.





  • Within the ISO 22810 test guide I posted a few posts back you can see the method of testing as:
    4.3.2 Water resistance to overpressure Immerse the watch completely in a suitable container filled with water. Raise the pressure in the container in 1 min to a minimum overpressure of 2 bar. Hold it at this pressure for 10 min. Then, in 1 min, reduce the pressure back down to ambient pressure. NOTE Higher overpressure values can be specified by the manufacturer and marked on the watch.

    It is not a dry test, it is at 5ATM (for a 3ATM watch) and while I don't know how Seiko/Citizen/etc. do it for Sólás it certainly isn't 1 out of 10,000 (since we're not even making 10,000 Starlights :pac: ) - I will confirm with my factory but my understanding is that we are likely to batch test around 18 out of 300 watches - which isn't individual testing, but at 1/17 - is up to individuals to decide if they'll "risk" it in the water. Once it reaches Ireland there'll be a second round of random sample testing (higher than 1/17 as I can only test one watch at a time rather than doing 9 in one go) but even in "worst case" scenario and I test only one watch it's 1/300 and not 10,000.

    ... :p I won't be just testing one watch though - most likely 6-8 (1/50 to 1/37.5)




  • Wibbs wrote: »
    Please watch this:
    Videos of 100m watches are of little relevance, we are discussing the 3ATM label.

    Indeed there are many videos and anecdotal reports of WR or 3ATM watches exceeding their ratings. There is also no shortage of videos and forum reports of 3ATM watches which failed when the owner swam with them.

    I don't care to do a tit for tat of one versus the other; I expect you don't either. It will achieve nothing since we can surely agree that water resistance is not absolute. I do not expect every 3ATM watch to suffer water ingress when swimming, nor do I expect the opposite. It's a much more nuanced issue.
    The latter according to the internets not suitable for proper diving.
    ..
    As for interwebs "truths" we can also read nonsense like swimming increases pressure on seals because of motion through the water so...
    Just to be clear - in this particular discussion, your side of the argument is the "internets". What I am saying is in line with the majority of the watch industry. They are not random forum theories, they are manufacturer recommendations.
    Again as Thirdfox has said much of this comes down to manufacturers covering their arses. If they said a tested 3-5ATM was safe for swimming some muppet would try diving with it.
    Covering their arses from what? If you believe a 3ATM watch can indeed reliably withstand 30m of water pressure then why would a "muppet" diving cause water ingress?


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