Can Watches Get Wet? (And How to Prevent Water Damage Before It’s Too Late)

Watch lovers all have one thing in common: we look down at our watches so often, we almost never forget we’re wearing one.

Until… You do forget you’re wearing one. One spontaneous summer evening when you jump in the pool, not realizing… Oops. Your watch got soaking wet. 

Uh-oh. Now you’re worried. A bunch of questions immediately pop into your mind.

Can your watch get wet? How do you check for water damage? What should you do if your watch does have water damage? 

How Do You Remove Moisture From a Wet Watch?

In case your watch is wet, and moisture has gotten inside, this could be urgent, and you want to prevent further water damage, if possible. Here’s how:

Immediately leave your watch out in the sun to dry. Removing the case back can potentially allow your watch to dry quicker, but might be risky, if you haven’t done it before, or don’t have the proper tools. 

You’ll also want to check the gaskets in your watch, which are typically little black rubber rings that provide an extra waterproof seal when your watch is closed up.

They should be completely in tact, and not deformed in any way.

This is best saved for a professional watchmaker.

Can Watches Get Wet?

Most watches can get wet, but how much they can get wet before facing water damage varies based on each watch’s ‘water resistance’ rating.

30m and 50m water resistance ratings are generally safe for light splashes, getting caught in the rain, and washing your hands. 100m water resistance is generally safe for light recreational swimming, and a 200m water resistance rating is generally safe for diving, and all of the previously mentioned.

Water Resistance is written as “WR 200M” on this Casio

Water Resistance Rating 

When properly maintained, the “water resistance” rating of a watch that determines the depth of water it can possibly be submerged in, without water damage.

If your watch does have a ‘water resistance’ rating, it needs to be regularly maintained in order to keep that water-resistance, and continue to be waterproof.

If you haven’t gotten your watch serviced in a while (at least once every 5 years), chances are that the watch’s water resistance isn’t as strong as it once was when you originally purchased it.

There are quite a few factors that go into the water resistance rating of a watch, which will then determine how ‘waterproof’ your watch actually is.

The water resistance rating tells you the rating that water is not expected to get inside of the watch. Even a watch with the best water resistance ratings will still potentially get damaged if water gets inside.

But what happens when your watch does get wet?

What Happens When A Watch Gets Wet? 

If a watch just gets wet on the surface, it’s typically a non-issue.

It’s when the water seeps into the entrances of the watch, and gets inside the watch, that it becomes an issue.

Water inside a watch creates moisture, which can rust parts of the watch movement, and degrade the overall integrity and function of the watch.

Over time, this rust can build up, and cease your watch from working altogether. 

The only way to fix a watch with severe water damage is by sending it in to a trusted watchmaker who can service and bring your watch back to life.

Can You Fix a Watch With Water Damage?

If your watch did get wet, however, it doesn’t always mean you’re going to need to send your watch in for repair.

If there is condensation on the inside of your watch, or on the crystal, that is a sure sign there is some moisture inside of your watch, and an early sign of potential water damage.

This may or may not damage your watch, depending on how much moisture got inside already. 

The best course of action to remove moisture and condensation from your water damaged watch is to place your watch in direct sunlight to dry, and eliminate the moisture from within.

If you’re able to remove the case back of your watch, this is recommended as well, to allow moisture to escape and dry. Do not try removing the case back if this is your first time attempting it. You might not know how to put the case back on the watch. 

The key is to try to dry your watch as SOON as you notice the condensation.

The sooner you’re able to dry your watch, the less chance the moisture will perform any serious damage to the inner workings of the watch.


Are Newer Watches More Waterproof?

The most waterproof watches are naturally watches made for water. Dive watches such as the Seiko SKX in particular tend to have some of the highest water resistance ratings, as they’re made for divers.

Newer watches will generally not have a problem with a bit of moisture getting inside the watch here and there. There likely hasn’t been enough of a moisture or rust buildup to create any long-term problems, just yet.

As the watch ages, however, pieces inside of the watch movement generally start to build up some rust and grime over time, which can impede how the watch works. Additional moisture and rust might only encourage this process, making your watch rust even faster, and eventually cause your watch to stop working altogether.

If this happens, you’ll need to take it to a watchmaker, and have your watch completely serviced, which can cost upward of hundreds of dollars, depending on the watch, the severity of damage, and materials used.

A watchmaker will also replace gaskets inside of your watch which typically help completely seal the watch. Over time, the gaskets degrade as well. Be sure to ask your watchmaker if they’re going to include a set of new gaskets when they go to service your watch.

How to Tell if My Watch is Waterproof

There is a common misconception that water-resistant watches are waterproof, but that’s certainly not true indefinitely. 

Even watches such as the Apple Watch that are advertised as waterproof may only be so up to a certain water-resistant depth rating. 

This rating is called the “Water Resistance”.

The watch is only as waterproof as the water resistance. Water resistance is measured, typically by meters, to the extent that the watch can be submerged in water safely, without water damage.

So a watch that is water resistant when submerged in 50m of water might not also be water resistant when submerged in 100m or 200m of water. 

The best way to tell if your watch is waterproof is by having a watchmaker pressure test your watch.

The Final Verdict

Getting your watch wet can be concerning, especially if you don’t know your watch’s waterproof rating.

Remember, each watch has a “water resistance” rating given to it when it’s made. Watches with higher water resistance rating (200M) are generally safe for diving, while 100m water resistance watches are usually safe for swimming, washing your hands, or showering.

It’s important to know that water resistance rating is usually only accurate when leaving the factory and can degrade over time.

A watch that was 200m water-resistant when you bought it might not still have the same water resistance 10 years later.

If it has been longer than a few years since you got your watch, you might want to have a water pressure test ran on your watch by your local watchmaker, just in case.

If your watch does get wet, or there’s condensation on the crystal, don’t panic.
Take off the case back of your watch if possible, and leave your watch out in the sun to dry, for as long as possible. 

Hopefully your watch dries completely, and hopefully, you’ve learned your lesson for next time. 😉 

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