Experts talking

Every time, the "Experts talking" column develops a different case.
The author's aim, as connoisseur and authority about the matter, is to help you to understand the subject by making these informations comprehensible and digestive.
Presently: Water-resistance

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The author

Expert in communication and marketing, Pierre F. Brenzikofer was for more than 25 years in charge of the Marketing-Services of an important swiss watch group. He had a deep knowledge of watches communication. He was very active in professional basic and further training, and invested a lot of energy in the management of training centers and the setting up of modern didactic instruments.

4. Water-resistance
A sensitive problem, squaring with precise standards

Which the consumer often doesn't know Applied to the watch, the term of "water-resistance" has its own rules which are defined by an international standard, ISO 2281. The words "water-resistant" and/or "étanche" (the only ones officially agreed), engraved on the dial or on the case back cover, signify that the watch successfully went through the water-resistance tests enjoyed by the above mentioned standard during its production and in particular during the assembling process. It should be observed that the terms "showerproof" or "water-proof" are commercial appellations : they are referring to any test method.

To be able to be called "water-resistant", a watch has to go successfully through to types of control :

1) The 10 cm water control
The watch is immersed in 10 cm of water and kept without moving during one hour. The test is made under ambient water temperature of 18° and 25°C.
Further on, still immersed under 10 cm of water, the test continues under different temperatures : 40°C during 5 minutes, 20°C during 5 minutes and 40°C during 5 minutes.

2) Control of the water pressure
The watch is immersed in a water container during 5 minutes, where the pressure corresponding to the depth (in meters) engraved on the dial or on the case back cover is applied. This pressure has to achieve at minimum 2 bars or 2 atmospheres, (2 kg/force per cm2), which corresponds to a depth of 20 m.
The checking of the water-resistance is effected after having made before and after each immersion a condensation test.

Three categories of "water-resistant" watches are existing :


1st category (simple water-resistant watches)
The inside of the watch is protected against humidity (perspiration, rain drop, etc.). The test foresees that the watch has to go through a 30 minutes immersion at a 1m depth. This watch category shouldn't be bored by taking a bath.

2nd category (water-resistant watches for every day's use)
This type of watches can be bored in the water, but only by swimming and not for diving purposes. The water-resistance level is normally engraved on the dial or the case back cover (10 m, 20 m or 30 m).
It's important to take notice that a 30 m water-resistant watch should not be immersed or exposed to a stream under pressure (a shower for instance). As for 50 m water-resistant watches, the consumer can take a bath in a swimming pool, a header overboard, but not from a diving-board. The deep plunges are not recommended as well as some violent water-sports. Only if the case back cover is made out of stainless steel, the watch can be bored into the sea.

3rd category (diver's watch)
Generally these watches are resistant up to 100 m or 200 m, some of them even 1000 m. In addition to water-resistance tests corresponding to the foreseen depth, the diver's watches have to be equipped with the following parts : unidirectional turning bezels divided from 5 minutes to 5 minutes, indexes and hands luminescent and readable in the water from a distance of 25 cm; the watches have to be antimagnetic, shock-resistant, resistant against salt water and the atmosphere containing helium.

A 100 m water-resistant watch can be carried by bathe, header over board in swimming-pools or under the water, but not when plunging with bottles or by professional diving needing the use of helium and consequently a water-resistant watch at a minimum of 600 m.

As you can notice, the offer of watch-resistant watches of different levels depend on what you will do with them. Buying this type of watches, you have to know what kind of requirements you have and therefore ask what they are able to offer in order to avoid a later deceit. In the same way, when you give your watch for a service (cleaning, battery changing, etc.), which requires the opening of the case, you will have to get the insurance that the resistance checks have been made after the service. Please take notice that a water condensation under the dial proves that the watch is no longer water-resistant and has to be serviced and checked again.

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