Are Automatic Watches Waterproof? The Answer May Surprise You

Your automatic timepiece can indeed be considered as a handy assistant around the clock. Having these handy mechanics can be convenient until you find yourself washing your hand with it on. So comes the question “Are automatic watches waterproof?”

In short, yes! They are mostly water-resistant! However, it is not just that simple, and there are things you must know to fully understand your watch’s waterproof ability and how to keep it safe and sound over a lifetime.


So, Are Automatic Watches Waterproof?

Not really. Mechanical watches, including automatic pieces style, are rated as WR- short for water resistance, not waterproof. These water-resistant marks are usually printed on your watch dial to inform you. 

But what differences does this make for you? Well, it simply means that these have been tested at a certain level of depth using the water testing machine, but they do not guarantee that they will never leak. 

These water-resistant features protect the watch at medium to a high-level top and are made to be convenient in daily uses, such as a few drops of rain or a splash of water. However, it can be much higher water-resistant depending on the types you bought. 

There are recommended water-resistant levels on everyone that should be considered if you engage in these activities. Also, caution must be taken when these watches go into the swimming pool or diving with you. Different water environments such as chlorine or salty water can potentially damage the watch strap. 

What Exactly Is An Automatic Watch?

An automatic watch is indeed the star of attention within the enthusiasts and -collectors community. They represent the meticulous work, evolution, and craftsmanship within the watch industry.

The movements are divided into two categories: mechanical watch movement and quartz movement. In essence, quartz movement would give you the tick tick displays while the mechanical movement represents a smooth, sweeping run through the seconds. 

However, quartz watches depend on batteries, while our primary focus is on an automatic friend – mechanical watches. Mechanical watches are further categorized into two groups: manual and automatic. Mechanical watches are more expensive than quartz due to a more complicated making process. 

These automatic wristwatches became familiar to the public in the early 20th century, and it was then that this automatic-winding technology made its top stance in the world. However, as automatic as these watches can operate, it is the natural movement of their owner, the wearer, that powered these timepieces. 

How Does An Automatic Watch Work? 

When the wearers move their wrist, the rotor spins, which automatically transfers into the energy that winds the mainspring, creating the magic of self-winding in your watch. It is notable that if the piece is not worn often, you might have to wind by hand to power the watch internally. 

With its incredible ability, what can you do to protect your timepieces?

Bonus Tip: How To Preserve Your Watch For A Lifetime

There are 2 common ways and maintenances that you should consider: 

Keep an eye on your watch

There are 3 waterproof-rating components that you should keep an eye on the back of the watch, winding knob, and gasket.

The back of the watch will usually display measurement where it will tell you the water-resistant level is. For example, watches with a regular lid in the back and measurements such as:

  •  3 ATM/bar/30m, usually indicate low water resistance and can only endure rain and splashes. The higher it goes, the higher the water-resistant level.
  • 10 ATM/bar/100m, indicates waterproof and is suitable for swimming, snorkeling in shallow water but not those with high water pressure such as diving, which should be available at 20 ATM/bar/200m watch.

If your watch does not display these measurements at all, meaning that they should not be in contact with water at all!

The gasket is shaped like a circular rubber ring, and it is prone to be worn off and breakable over a long time. In addition, it is noticeable that the gasket can expand and contract under high-temperature water. When this happens, it will reduce the water resistance ability and reduce the lifespan of your timepieces. 

Furthermore, if your winding knob is not tightened correctly, water can potentially get into your watch and damage it. 

Testing the waterproofness of your watch and maintenance

The excellent news is automatic watches do not have batteries; therefore, it shouldn’t be an issue. However, they work best when being worn constantly. Otherwise, it would be best if you winded it twice a week to keep it working. If it ever stops due to long unused time, there is usually a quick fix by shaking it up and resetting the time manually. 

Despite being waterproof or not, it is best to keep clean, dry and avoid high temperature and chemical water as it can easily damage your timepieces. Furthermore, you need to waterproof test it every year, and even the most maintained watch should be professionally looked at every 3-5 years.

Final question, can your watch last a lifetime? Yes, it can! With the proper care and deduction, your watch can be passed down to your kid!

Final Words

Most watches are purchased for their aesthetic. However, understanding their inner mechanism and knowing your watch’s waterproof ability can give you peace of mind when encountering “watch-threatening” situations. 

It can usefully help you appreciate the level of craftsmanship that entails in your watch and have it last over a lifetime. 

Further Reading:

Last Updated on September 19, 2021 by The o.d.m team