The Watches That Sink to New Depths… But Rise to New Heights

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Water is not a kind friend to the vast majority of marketed watches. As we tackled in our article about water resistant watches, classically described ‘water resistant’ watches might survive splashes, accidental showers and some lengths in a pool but put them under continuous pressure and you are likely to encounter trouble.

Rolex Submariner with no obvious damage or water damage.

Today though, we’re not going to discuss your run-of-the-mill fashion watch. Instead, we shine the spotlight on some of the industry’s formidable dive watches from the world’s most well-renowned brands.

Every single watch goes through a series of water resistance tests but the process for dive watches is doubly intense. Issued by the International Organisation for Standardization, ISO 6425 certification tests cover diver’s watches, developing standards by which all watches must pass. There are a multitude of rigorous tests including highlights such as condensation checks, magnetic field impact testing and external forces challenges.

The standards also check watches for their shock resistance, hitting watches with shocks equal to 5,000Gs on the 9 o’clock side as well as the face of them. To meet the standard, watches must maintain their accuracy within plus or minus of 60 seconds per day. Additionally, testing takes place on thermal shock conditions, submerging watches in hot water for 10 minutes, simultaneously followed by a period in cold water and repeating the process before conducting final checks on condensation once again.

Rolex Sea-Dweller showing detailing the helium escape valve

This might sound intense, and it is, but for some of the industry’s leading brands, it doesn’t even touch the surface. Rolex and Omega, for example, conduct their own stringent water-resistant certification tests in-house. Uniquely designed for their Submariner, Yacht-master and Sea-Dweller models, Rolex’ testing procedures sample products in open water, with the latter mentioned models utilising specially designed helium valves. This innovative design allows the helium trapped in the watch to be released during decompression while preserving the tight waterproofness of the Oyster case.

These watches, designed with specialist divers in mind, are the result of decades of collaboration with diving professionals, scientists and marine biologists – all of whom use and test products in the way they are intended. They are capable of plunging unspeakable depths and withstanding enormous water pressure, levels unexpected and unheard of in the industry. Considering watches’ tempestuous relationship with water, some of the numbers are truly staggering and puzzling.

And yet, despite all this promise, consumers would still be right to have concerns. No matter how exquisitely designed your watch is, each one has a limit to what it can withstand and if you put too much pressure on them without organising annual check ups, eventually it is bound to let you down.

A Rolex Submariner recently sent to our repair workshop detailing the dirt and rusting caused by water damage. This has occurred because the watch’s seals have broken down and the watch has not had regular check ups to ensure it is sealed correctly.

Let’s put it this way, you’ve got a Rolex Sea-Dweller and a Rotary Legacy. Your Rolex has been used regularly for three years without a check but your Rotary is brand new. Which do you reckon is more reliable? Well,the answer is that the difference is negligible because even though the Rolex is designed to sustain more pressure, it may have been pushed beyond its limits, whereas the Rotary has all its gaskets and seals unharmed.
These luxury brands, your TAG Heuers and Breitlings, are special and deserve to be cherished. No one wants their watch to incur water damage, but if your £100 watch suffers, it’s not as bad as if your £10,000 watch gets harmed.

An Omega Planet Ocean being preparing to be waterproof checked at our watch repair workshop.

At Fixmywatch, we are capable of conducting water tests on all of your favourite luxury and fashion brands but please take precautions. Heed our advice, get your watches checked annually, and dive without worry.

If you’d like to chat to us further about any other issues with your watches, make sure to check out our other blog pieces or get in touch via our contact page here.