the watch authority since 1900

About Tourneau

Water Resistance

While “water resistance” is a fairly common feature of most watches, there is a lot more to it than most people are aware of. Whether you’re a diving enthusiast, headed for a beach vacation, or just curious about water resistance, the experts at Tourneau offer their advice and recommended precautions to help you keep your watch safe and protected for years to come.

Waterproof vs Water Resistant
Water Resistance Testing
Swimming & Showering


Waterproof vs water resistant

What does it mean for a watch to be “waterproof?”

The truth is that no watch is waterproof. There is always a limit to how much water pressure a watch can handle. The term "waterproof" implies that a watch can't leak under any circumstance—that no moisture will permeate the case and get into the movement. However, under certain circumstances anything can leak. Therefore, in the watch industry, we refer to a watch's ability to withstand water pressure as water resistance.

What does it mean if the back of my watch is stamped with "Water Resistant?”

A watch stamped with "Water Resistant" means that it is humidity-protected. It can endure a bit of water splashes from washing your hands or being caught in the rain. However, water resistance does not mean you should swim or shower with your watch on.

Water is the biggest enemy of a watch. If you go swimming or play sports, you should have your watch checked for an accurate reading of its water resistance levels every year. The outside case may look rugged and big, but the movement is very tiny and very delicate. The only thing that stands between your watch and water is a small gasket, a tiny O-ring that is usually made of rubber or silicon. Gaskets form seals around the stem of the crown, pushers, and correctors and sit inside the case and the crystal. Over time, they dry out and lose elasticity and the ability to form a proper seal. This explains why regular testing is so important for maintaining the water resistance of a watch.

What is an atmosphere or a bar?

These are the measurements used by the watch industry to denote the amount of pressure a watch can withstand, not the depth to which the watch can be worn. ATM stands for atmosphere. 1 atmosphere is equal to about 10 meters or roughly 30 feet. A bar is just another way of stating atmospheres.

How is a diver's watch different from a complicated watch?

Diving watches are specifically engineered for heavy water usage and can withstand depths of at least 200 meters. They have minimal openings for water to permeate through with only one screw-down crown, sturdy case, extra heavy gaskets around the crystal, and extra heavy gaskets around the case back. If you are planning to regularly swim, dive, surf or boat while wearing your watch, a diving watch is an excellent option to consider.


water resistance testing

How often should I have my watch tested?

We suggest having a watch tested at least once a year, but much of this depends on one’s lifestyle. For example, a person who surfs regularly—going in and out of salt water and in and out of sandy places—should have his/her watch tested a few times a year. Salt water especially causes a lot of corrosion and wear and tear on all parts of the watch, which ultimately causes the water resistance level of the watch to drop over time.

What happens during a water resistance test?

Each watch is tested a little bit differently, but the most important thing is to first make sure that all the gaskets are sealed and water resistant. Over time, the gaskets will need to be replaced and lubricated.


swimming and showering

What should I do if I accidentally go swimming with my expensive watch?

One drop of water inside the watch can do major damage. The first thing to do is place the watch on a lamp or hot plate or even a radiator to warm up the back. This will move the moisture away from the delicate moving parts. You should also continue to wear your watch all the time—even at night. Your body temperature will provide enough warmth to keep the moisture away from the movement. Once you get home, bring the watch to your nearest Tourneau store to have it opened, dried and cleaned, and repaired of any water damage.

Can I shower with my watch on?

It is strongly advisable not to shower with your watch on. Shampoo, soaps and other liquids are highly corrosive to a watch's delicate components and will wear it out much sooner. If you accidentally expose your watch to soap, you should rinse it off with fresh water and dry it as quickly as possible.

Can I go swimming with my chronograph?

While chronographs are very well-crafted timepieces and typically water resistant, they are not intended for swimming or diving. A chronograph is a complicated watch, which actually has several openings for water to enter: 2 push buttons, a crown, the crystal, and the case back gasket. At each of these points, there is a gasket that forms a seal, which protects the movement from water damage.

Here are some tips for protecting your chronograph when near water:

  • Never turn the bezel, adjust the crown, or push the pushers while underwater as this will break the seal of the gasket, leaving the watch open for water to enter.
  • Always check to make sure the crown is properly pushed in or screwed down to ensure that the gasket is fully sealed.

My watch says it's water resistant up to 100 meters; can I dive into the pool wearing it?

Diving into a pool causes an immediate change in pressure—even though it only lasts for a few seconds—and can cause a major shock to a watch that is not meant for diving. Water resistance is all about pressure; the moment you hit the water, there is an immediate shift in pressure, which forces the watch to go above its recommended water resistance level. Diving into the pool multiple times (and smacking the water's surface each time) will eventually push the amount of pressure applied to the watch over its limit, at which point water will be forced through the gaskets and into the movement.

Can I get my leather strap wet?

Leather straps should never get wet. Exposure to moisture, high humidity, direct intense light, cosmetic or oil products will cause the leather to deteriorate prematurely as well as stain or discolor the strap. If your leather strap accidentally comes in contact with any of these elements, dry the strap immediately with a soft absorbent cloth to help reduce any further damage.

All Tourneau stores are equipped to conduct water resistance testing and our watch experts are available to further answer any of your questions.

Schedule a store visit today.

Learn about expert watch services and repair
watch restoration


Learn More
Learn about complimentary 5 Point Check-Up
complimentary servicing


Learn More