Water resistant watches have a rating on the back, and because of this, it is often mistaken that they are completely waterproof. In fact, there are many common misconceptions surrounding water resistance in watches.
Join us as we explore and debunk all things waterproof and water-resistant watches. And remember if you are unsure whether your timepiece can cope in different environments, check out our watch water resistance guide.
Water resistance means that a watch has some protection against water, however, water resistance is not a universal rating. Many brands/ outlets have different ways of expressing ratings. Let's check out some of the most common.
On this page, you'll learn:
- What BAR is
- What ATM is
- What ISO 642 is
- What you can do with a 3 BAR / 3 ATM / 30 Metres / 100 feet watch
- What you can do with a 5 BAR / 5 ATM / 50 Metres / 165 feet watch
- What you can do with a 10 BAR / 10 ATM / 100 Metres / 330 feet watch
- What you can do with a 20 BAR / 20 ATM / 200 metres / 660 feet watch
- What you can do with a 100 BAR / 100 ATM / 1000 Metres / 3280 Feet / Divers or ISO watch 6425
What Is BAR?
Whilst looking at the specifications of a watch, you may have noticed a thing called BAR. It is the measure of pressure that a watch can safely operate underwater. Basically, it is an alternative term for atmosphere. You will often see watches represented with BAR / ATM / feet and metres. BAR can also be read as an abbreviated term for metres. For example, 50 metres is the same as 5 BAR. However, if your watch is water resistant up to 50 metres, that does not mean you can submerge it in 50 metres of water. In reality, a 5 BAR watch is only suitable for light splashes, rain, swimming and boating.
What Is ATM?
ATM on the back of a watch is short for ATMOSPHERES, and it indicates the depth to which a watch is safe. One atmosphere is the normal pressure at sea level, but of course, when you are submerged, it changes. This is because moving water underneath the surface creates much more pressure than still water. In saying that, if you are unsure what you are or not able to do with a watch of a certain ATM rating, please refer to the below chart.
What Is ISO 6425?
If you plan on swimming with your watch, Watch Depot recommends purchasing at least a 20 BAR watch. If you are a diver, it is best to be safe and purchase a 100 BAR watch or an ISO 6425 watch. This is because if your watch claims to be “ISO 6425” or has “Divers” written on it, the watch is a certified to the international standard of diving watches. It is completely safe to be worn underwater and is a literal water-resistant watch.
3 BAR / 3 ATM / 30 Metres / 100 Feet
A 3 BAR water resistance rating is one of the lowest. A watch of this nature is only susceptible to small amounts of water like rain and splashing from hand washes. Anything more than that is a huge red flag. Shop our range of 30 metre water resistant watches or check out our favourite Daniel Wellington pick below!
5 BAR / 5 ATM / 50 Metres / 165 Feet
Unfortunately, a watch that is 50 metres in water resistance is still not suitable for diving. Whilst it is an improvement on the 3 BAR rating, it is only water resistant for activities like swimming, boating, and light splashes. The Tommy Hilfiger watch pictured below is the perfect mix of style and practicality because of its 50 BAR rating.
10 BAR / 10 ATM / 100 Metres / 330 Feet
A waterproof watch with 100 metres, 10 atmospheres, 10 bars and 330ft of water resistance won’t work after high board diving or aqua diving. However, they are suitable for swimming and water sports like snorkelling. Basically, they are great if you are into your shallow diving and have no aspirations of exploring the bottom of the ocean. For all the women out there, this Baby-G watch is perfect for all your 10 BAR watch needs.
20 BAR / 20 ATM / 200 Metres / 660 Feet
A 200 metres, 20 atmospheres, 20 bars and 600ft watch is pretty much the same as a 10 BAR watch. We still do not recommend scuba diving with a water resistance rating like this. In saying that, we have a large range of 20 BAR watches. Did you know that every G-Shock watch has a 200 metre water resistance rating?
50 BAR / 50 ATM / 500 Metres / 1650 Feet
It's the moment you've been waiting for! A 500 metre, 50 atmospheres, 50 bars and 1650 ft watch is suitable for all high-impact water sports, scuba-diving and saturation diving. However, they are not suitable for the real deep-sea stuff.
100 BAR / 100 ATM / 1000 Metres / 3280 Feet / Divers or ISO 6425
This ISO standard means the watch is guaranteed by the manufacturer to handle depths of at least 100 metres. If your watch claims to be “ISO 6425” or has “Divers” written on it, the watch is a certified diving watch. It is completely safe to be worn underwater and is a literal water resistant watch. Watches that measure up to this standard are also shock, magnet and saltwater tolerant and can also be used in places of total darkness.