WATERPROOF VS. WATER RESISTANT

In the watch industry, the term “water resistant” refers to the watch’s ability to withstand water pressure. Stated in units of pressure such as atmospheres (ATMs), or depth such as meters, water resistance levels typically range from 3 ATM (30 meters) to 20 ATM (200 meters) and diver’s watches at 200+ meters.

Technically, no watch is fully waterproof; rather, there are some watches made to handle more water pressure than others. Watches that are equipped for swimming or diving are still only water resistant up to a certain point and there is always a risk of moisture leaking into the case and getting into the movement. 

Follow these standard rules of thumb for knowing the amount of water your timepiece can withstand and the necessary precautions to prevent water damage.

 Water ResistanceSuitable Use / Precautions
3 ATM (30 m)Protected against splashes from rain, hand washing, etc. Not suitable for showering or swimming.
5 ATM (50 m)Suitable for withstanding short periods of water immersion, such as light swimming.
10 ATM (100 m)Suitable for swimming, snorkeling, and other recreational water sports.
20 ATM (200 m)Suitable for high impact water sports and shallow diving. 
DiverDiver’s watches ratings are provided by ISO 6425

 

No matter the water resistance rating, all timepieces should be regularly serviced and checked for an accurate reading of the water resistance levels. Frequent exposure to water can cause the gaskets of the watch to erode, increasing the risk of water damage. 

Find an authorized Mondaine service center and contact information here.

IP67 vs IP68: What is the difference?

Firstly it’s worth noting that there’s a difference between being waterproof and water-resistant. Waterproof means something is impervious to water regardless of how long it is submerged, water-resistant means a product can stop water entering it to some degree, but not entirely. When we’re talking about smartphones and smartwatch it’s almost always about how water-resistant they are. They can’t survive in water indefinitely.

IP is the name of the standard that was drawn up by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to determine how resistant an electrical device is to fresh water and common raw materials – like dirt, dust and sand.

The first digit after IP is the rating the IEC assigned a unit for its resistance to solids. In this case, it’s six – which means no “harmful” dust or dirt seeped into the unit after being in direct contact with the matter eight-hours.

Next, we have the water resistance rating.

There are two leading ratings at present – seven and eight, with the former meaning that the device can be submerged in up to one meter of fresh water for half an hour, and the latter up to 1.5 meters for half an hour.

To recap: IP67 means the unit can be dropped into a body of water up to a meter deep for half an hour, while IP68 guarantees protection in water up to 1.5m deep for the same period of time. Both are resistant to dust.

 

Let’s be clear here: the rating the International Electrotechnical Commission assigns is strictly for fresh water. That means it doesn’t guarantee protection from submersion in other liquids – beer, coffee, salt water and soda, to name but a few.

So if you spill a pint of your favourite lager on an IP67 or IP68-rated handset and quickly shake it off, it should be fine, albeit a little smelly and sticky. But if you leave it to rest in the goop for a prolonged amount of time, it could break… for good.

IP ratings are not bulletproof: Always read the small print

The type of liquid resistance guaranteed by an IP rating is one of many possible caveats. Companies often put specific exceptions to water resistance in the fine print.

Can I take a shower or swim with my smartwatch?

Now you might think “My smartwatch is IP67 waterproof and I can go swimming or take a shower wearing it.”. Unfortunately there is a catch. Smartwatches with this IP code can indeed withstand a bit of water, but the IP67 rating only means that the device is completely dust-proof, and can withstand a 30-minute immersion in standing water. It is unfortunately not the case that devices are given the rating of the highest test they endure. An IP67 score therefore does not mean that IP61 through IP66 have also been achieved. And since IP61-66 among other things test exposure to sparying, it is not wise to shower while wearing this type of smartwatch. But if you accidentally forget to take off your smartwatch before you step under the shower, this will not immediately destroy the watch.

If a smartwatch has multiple IP ratings, it might be possible. Pay attention to this when purchasing a smartwatch, depending on what you want to do with it. Always read the instructions and warranty conditions of the manufacturer. Unless otherwise stated, it is not desirable to press buttons while your device is under water. In this way, water can still penetrate which causes damage.

Be careful with salt water and heat

As with ordinary watches, most tests are done with tap water in temperatures between 15 – 35 degrees Celsius. Seawater, but also swimming pool water with chlorine is therefore often not covered by the guarantee, unless stated otherwise. It is also not wise to wear your smartwatch in a Turkish steam bath, sauna or hot tub.