Water-resistant watches come in every shape and size, from elegant dress watches to professional diving watches. Some are only protected against splashing water, while others can survive at depths of up to 1,000 m (100 bar, 3,281 ft) or more.
Moisture is the greatest threat to any watch. In mechanical watches, it strips away lubricant and leads to corrosion. On the other hand, it can kill batteries and cause quartz timepieces and smartwatches to short circuit. This is why choosing a timepiece with the right water resistance is so important. Water-resistant watches can endure pressures of at least 3 bar. That's the same amount of pressure felt around 30 m (98 ft) underwater.
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that a watch with 3 bar of water resistance will stay intact 30 m (98 ft) below the surface. Timepieces with this depth rating are only protected against the type of spray experienced with rain or when washing your hands. A rating of 50 m (5 bar, 164 ft) means your watch can join you in the shower or bath. If you're looking for a watch you can wear to the beach, snorkeling, or in the pool, it should be water-resistant to at least 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft). Watches for diving have a minimum depth rating of 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft). All of that said, no watch is completely water-resistant. Seals can weaken and fail, so they should be inspected regularly.
Many watch manufacturers indicate water resistance in atm (atmosphere), a unit of pressure where 1 atm represents the pressure experienced at sea level. For practical comparisons, bar and atm are interchangeable, with 20 atm roughly equaling 20 bar.
There's a vast array of water-resistant watches available for both men and women. Options range from affordable quartz pieces to expensive automatic watches with in-house calibers. When it comes to sports watches, almost every model from recent decades comes with increased water resistance. Many dress watches are also protected against moisture.
|Model/Reference number||Price (approx.)||Water resistant to|
|Patek Philippe Nautilus, ref. 5711/1A||75,500 USD||120 m (12 bar, 394 ft)|
|Rolex Day-Date 40, ref. 228238||32,000 USD||100 m (10 bar, 328 ft)|
|Rolex Daytona, ref. 116500LN||24,500 USD||100 m (10 bar, 328 ft)|
|Rolex Submariner Date, ref. 116610||11,000 USD||300 m (30 bar, 984 ft)|
|Bvlgari Octo Solotempo, ref. 101964||4,700 USD||100 m (10 bar, 328 ft)|
|Seiko Prospex Marinemaster, ref. SBDX013||3,600 USD||1,000 m (100 bar, 3,281 ft)|
|Sinn U1, ref. 1010.010||2,000 USD||1,000 m (100 bar, 3,281 ft)|
|Mühle Glashütte S.A.R. Rescue-Timer, ref. M1-41-03-MB||1,700 USD||1,000 m (100 bar, 3,281 ft)|
|Casio G-Shock Rangeman, ref. GPR-B1000-1ER||730 USD||200 m (20 bar, 656 ft)|
|Seiko Presage, ref. SPB035J1||560 USD||100 m (10 bar, 328 ft)|
|Citizen Titanium, ref. BM7360-82L||260 USD||100 m (10 bar, 328 ft)|
If you're looking for a watch with high water resistance, your best bet is either a diving watch or another timepiece meant for outdoor activities. These watches are built for life in and around the water.
The Rolex Submariner is perhaps the most iconic diving watch of all time. The Swiss manufacturer has been producing this model uninterrupted since 1953 and has released many different versions over the years. While early models from the 1950s are only water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft), later generations from the 60s, 70s, and 80s can survive 20 bar (200 m, 656 ft) of pressure. In the late 1980s, the Submariner's depth rating improved to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft), where it remains to this day. Current models like the ref. 116610LN sell for around 11,000 USD. The vintage ref. 1680 from the 1970s requires an investment of some 16,500 USD. If you have your eye on one of the early Submariner editions, such as the ref. 6526, be prepared to spend roughly 30,000 USD.
There are also plenty of less expensive options. Two fantastic examples are the Mühle Glashütte S.A.R. Rescue-Timer and the Sinn U1. The S.A.R. Rescue-Timer was developed specifically for maritime search and rescue teams and is water-resistant to 1,000 m (100 bar, 3,281 ft). Mühle Glashütte outfits this timepiece with extra-strong sapphire crystal and a rubber bezel for protection against impacts. Finally, the crown sits at 4 o'clock for enhanced comfort. This model costs around 1,800 USD.
The Sinn U1 is equally impressive. It can also dive down to 1,000 m (100 bar, 3,281 ft). Its case is resistant to low pressure and made of saltwater-resistant submarine steel. Like every true diving watch, the U1 features a unidirectional diving bezel. Thanks to Sinn's unique construction methods, the bezel is undetachable. Depending on the model and its condition, prices for this robust watch range from 1,600 to 2,000 USD.
The Casio G-Shock is a legendary outdoor watch. This quartz timepiece is available in a seemingly endless number of varieties, from traditional analog and digital displays to smartwatches. That being said, each G-Shock is united by remarkable durability and exceptional water resistance. Most watches also feature additional functions. Some versions boast a chronograph, timer, and alarm, while others come with a barometer, altimeter, and digital compass. The most affordable models sell for as little as 60 USD. On the other hand, complicated timepieces with smartwatch functionality demand some 720 USD.
The vast majority of modern sports watches are water-resistant, including icons like the Rolex Daytona and the Patek Philippe Nautilus. Every Daytona has had a depth rating of 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft) since the 1970s. Meanwhile, the Patek ref. 5711/1A can withstand pressures of up to 12 bar (120 m, 394 ft). Both timepieces are extremely popular and available in different designs. For example, the Daytona comes in your choice of stainless steel, rose or white gold, or platinum. There are also two-tone editions. Prices for this fan-favorite depend on the exact model and its condition. However, most Daytonas require an investment of between 18,000 and 72,500 USD. As for the Nautilus ref. 5711/1A, it costs roughly 76,000 USD in stainless steel and 110,000 USD in rose gold.
Omega, another legendary luxury watch manufacturer, offers a wide variety of water-resistant sports watches as well. The Aqua Terra 150M is one such timepiece. It belongs to the Seamaster collection and, as its name implies, is water-resistant to 150 m (15 bar, 492 ft). Options range from simple three-hand watches to models with a second time zone or world time function. Shared features include their sporty yet elegant design and, in more recent editions, the use of Master Co-Axial Chronometer calibers. Three-hand editions range from 3,500 to 4,300 USD in price. Those with a GMT function change hands for about 7,000 USD. At around 41,000 USD, the Aqua Terra World Timer is easily this series' most expensive timepiece.
Japanese watch manufacturer Seiko also produces water-resistant luxury sports watches. These timepieces belong to the Prospex collection and make relatively affordable alternatives to their Swiss counterparts. For example, the Samurai SRPB531 is water-resistant to 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft) and costs only 330 USD. The collection also contains professional diving watches, including the Tuna Marine Master SBDX013. This watch has a depth rating of 1,000 m (10 bar, 3,281 ft) and demands roughly 3,600 USD.
Dress watches tend to have less protection against moisture. Most are only resistant to 30 or 50 m (3 or 5 bar, 98 or 164 ft). However, there are also plenty of exceptions. For example, the Rolex Datejust and Rolex Day-Date are each water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft) thanks to their Oyster cases and the Twinlock sealing system. Rolex produces both models in men's and women's sizes. The Day-Date comes in rose gold, yellow gold, white gold, or platinum. Plan to spend between 28,500 and 58,000 USD on one of these timepieces. In addition to gold and platinum, the Datejust is also available in stainless steel or as a two-tone edition. These watches sell for anywhere from 5,500 to 13,500 USD, depending on the model.
Fans of Italian design should take a closer look at the Bvlgari Octo Solotempo. With an octagonal case and 110 facets, these timepieces demand your attention. While slightly thicker than the watches of the record-breaking Octo Finissimo series, the Solotempo makes up for it with its depth rating of 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft). The Octo Solotempo in stainless steel costs around 4,700 USD. Models with an 18-karat rose gold bezel and black DLC-coated case demand about 7,700 USD.
Of course, buying a water-resistant dress watch doesn't have to break the bank. You can call the Seiko Presage SPB035J1 your own for roughly 560 USD. This elegant timepiece features a reliable automatic caliber and a case with 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft) of water resistance. For something even more affordable, there's the Citizen BM7360-82L. This titanium watch is also water-resistant to 100 m (328 ft); however, its power comes from the quartz Eco-Drive E111 movement. Prices for this model sit around 260 USD.