Waterproof or water resistant: which type of fitness watch should I go for

First published: 20-06-2017

Waterproof or water resistant: which type of fitness watch should I go for?

Whether you're a gym-goer or a road-runner, there's a good chance your fitness routine will involve getting wet along the way. Having a watch that can withstand the conditions of your workout is essential, and so is knowing what to look for when it comes to the water resistance of your watch.

Watches are designed to be worn all the time and as such all timepieces will withstand a splash of rain here or there. However, wearing your watch in the shower, in the pool, or in bad weather on a regular basis could lead to issues if you don't pick the right model.

One of the most frequently asked questions by people buying fitness watches is: what is the difference between waterproof and water resistant watches?

Here is an outline of the key differences, along with some examples of some of the most popular waterproof watches from our collection

What is a waterproof watch?

The word 'waterproof' implies that a watch will be completely impervious to water, but this is not the case. There is some confusion around the use of the word in relation to watches, as there is no established industry standard to allow watches to be classified as waterproof.

To further confuse matters, some companies use the word waterproof in lieu of 'splash proof', and apply it to watches that will not withstand submersion in water or any significant degree of water pressure.

Splash proof watches are sealed to withstand splashes or rain showers, but their seals are not tested at pressure or underwater and they cannot be guaranteed to hold.
  • Which waterproof fitness watch to consider
At Watch Shop, we include the depth to which our watches are water resistant on each product page, and if a watch is simply splash proof it will be listed without a depth figure.

For example, take a look at a Kahuna men's watch - a perfectly practical gents watch that might provide a good companion on a dry run in sunny weather, but not a watch to wear in the shower.

What is a swimproof watch?

The part of a watch that prevents water ingress is a small, ring-shaped gasket. Typically made of rubber or silicon, the gasket forms a seal that protects the parts inside the watch from getting wet, but the quality of these gaskets varies from model to model.

Some watches have seals that can withstand submersion in a certain amount of water, but that won't deal with higher levels of water pressure.

Water pressure is measured in atmospheres, with one atmosphere equating to 14.7 pounds per square inch. A watch is subjected to a single atmosphere for every 10 metres of depth that it is submerged.

However, the depth to which a watch says it is water resistant should be taken as a guide only. Tests of water resistance don't always take into account movement at depth, so while your watch might be able to withstand being submerged in 30 metres of water, once you begin to move the pressure will increase further and could break the seal.

At Watch Shop, we classify as splash proof watches those that are water resistant up to 30 metres, as these watches should not be submerged in anything other than small amounts of water - they simply haven't been tested at sufficient depths to risk going any deeper.

Swimproof watches are those that have been tested to withstand five atmospheres (at depths of 50 metres of water). They are suitable for swimming, but cannot be guaranteed to withstand the pressure caused by diving into the pool.
  • Which swimproof fitness watch to consider

An example of a swimproof watch from our collection is the Garmin Men's Forerunner 25 - a fantastic fitness watch packed full of features, and one that will keep on running with you no matter the weather.

What is a water resistant watch?

If you are looking for a sports or fitness watch that will stand up to the rigours of regular swimming, rowing, sailing, diving, or anything that might involve submersion at depth, then you need to choose a highly water resistant watch.

There is a huge range of watches to choose from featuring models built for diving, presented in styles from classic to modern and everything in between.
  • Which water resistant fitness watch to consider
Diving standard watches tend to be built using highly durable materials such as titanium and stainless steel, with components that have been thoroughly tested at great depths to withstand high levels of pressure.

Even so, if you invest in a quality dive watch, such as the TW Steel Grandeur Diver Chronograph , you should get the seal tested annually to ensure that you know it has not worn out, and that your watch's integrity is protected.


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