Also known as a diving watch or a diver’s watch, a dive watch is water-resistant. Many dive watches can withstand intense pressure and can be taken into deep waters, but none are truly “waterproof,” as the term implies that there are no circumstances under which they can leak. In the watch industry, we refer to a watch’s ability to hold up against water pressure as water-resistance.
In a water-resistant watch, one component stands between the delicate movement inside and the water surrounding it: a gasket. Typically made of rubber or silicone, this tiny O-ring forms a seal around the stem of a watch’s crown, pushers, and correctors. Over time, a gasket dries out and loses elasticity—so it’s a good idea to regularly have the water-resistance tested if you plan to take your watch into the water with you.
This wearing out of the gasket takes some time, however, and the gradual loss of water-resistance is no reason not to have a dive watch. They can be incredibly useful to have with you underwater, especially if you’re a regular swimmer, snorkeler, or scuba diver—and they can also make a stylish statement when on dry land.
The First Water-Resistant Watch
While there are records of early water-resistant watches being made for specific individuals in the 19th century, these were not offered to the general public. The first time that a water-resistant watch was manufactured with the public in mind was in 1926, when Rolex created the “Oyster,” a watch case that featured an airtight seal—preventing the watch from being damaged when submerged in water.
The following year, Rolex’s Oyster was successfully taken across the English Channel by an English swimmer named Mercedes Gleitze. The groundbreaking watch survived the journey, and Rolex still uses Gleitze’s name in publicity materials to this day.
Over time, other watch manufacturers would emulate Rolex’s innovative design, crafting similarly water-resistant models. This technological development was especially attractive to deep-sea fanatics in the middle of the 20th century, when recreational scuba diving became a widespread trend.
Dive Watches Today
Today, there are countless options for picking out a dive watch—many more than when Rolex first released the Oyster. As a result, there are a number of rating systems that help consumers know how much water a given watch can withstand.
BARs Or ATM/Meters
If you check the back of your watch, you’ll see a series of different words and numbers. When the watch is water-resistant, there will be marking that elaborates on just how water-resistant the watch is.
- 30m –A 30m marking means that the watch is water-resistant enough to withstand handwashing and rain showers, but you shouldn’t take it swimming or even into the shower.
- 50m – This indicates that the watch can withstand swimming and cold showers, but hot showers can make components of the watch expand, potentially allowing water to get into the instrument.
- 100m – This means that the watch can go for a swim or a snorkel, but you might not want to take it for a deep dive.
- 200m – A marking of 200m or higher indicates that the watch is indeed able to be taken diving.
These ratings can help you find a watch that suits your needs, but this isn’t the only rating system that can indicate just how water-resistant a watch is.
ISO – International Organization Of Standards
Another rating system that measures the water-resistance of watches, the ISO (or International Organization of Standardization), has two primary standards:
- ISO 2281 Water Resistance Standard – this means that the watch is water-resistant but not capable of going diving.
- ISO 6425 Divers Watch Standard – this is the ISO standard for any watch that can withstand being submerged in deep waters.
IP Code Or IP Rating
The most complex and in-depth rating system, the IP Code system, is overseen by the International Electrotechnical Commission—and it’s the most trusted system for rating a product’s water-resistance.
This code doesn’t only apply to watches, so anybody looking for water-resistant or waterproof electronics may very well find themselves researching IP codes and wondering what the various numbers mean.
An IP code will consist of the letters I and P, followed by two digits. The first digit indicates the protection from various solid objects—the higher the digit, the smaller the object (a rating of 6 indicates that the device is dust-tight). The second digit indicates the protection from water; again, the higher the number, the more protection.
A device with an IP code of IP23 is protected from solid objects larger than 12.5mm and is resistant to light sprays, while a device with an IP code of IP68 is dust-tight and capable of being submerged in up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes.
Ideally, a dive watch will be water-resistant at all depths—and the best dive watches are.
For a deeper dive into water-resistance standards and measurements, check out our article on how to understand the different water-resistance rating systems.
For example, our Seatrek Automatic features a diver’s bracelet extension with a micro-adjuster, allowing for quick and precise fitting to suit your every need. It can withstand depth pressure of up to 300 meters, which is more than enough for any recreational diver. And because it features an automatic movement, the Seatrek winds itself as you swim.
Buy Dive Watches From Jack Mason
At Jack Mason, we offer several options for quality dive watches in both quartz and automatic styles. Whether you prefer the sporty look of a rubber strap or a more classic all-metal design, we have what you’re looking for.
All of our watches are crafted with ultra-durable sapphire crystal and either Swiss or Japanese movements, ensuring that whichever watch you choose is of the utmost quality. However, we believe that you don’t need to break the bank to own an attractive, high-quality watch, so all of our watches are comparable to other luxury brands in both functionality and style—but without the designer price tag.
Check out our collection and see for yourself. Whether you’re an active diver in need of a submersible timekeeping device or a watch enthusiast looking for an attractive dive watch to add to your collection, we have the perfect watch for you.
Mercedes Gleitze - Person | NPG
ISO 6425:2018(en), Horology — Divers' watches | iso.org