Monday, May 30, 2016

Lesson 6: Waterproof Watches Myth-Busting

***Waterproof Watches Myth-Busting

A few years ago I said that there is no such a thing as a waterproof watch. 

Little did I know that this statement would upset so many watch enthusiasts! The avalanche of replies could be summarized in one sentence: my Rolex/Omega is waterproof, and has been so for decades - so Nick, you don't know what you’re talking about.

But let me explain what I meant.

The whole idea of making a waterproof watch is really a novelty. For 500 years, watch and clock makers - and their customers - never really thought about 'waterproofing' timepieces. There was no need for waterproofing, and even if there was - one crucial element was missing: the high-tech materials capable of 'sealing' two surfaces. Nowadays, synthetic rubber o-rings are commonly used in many water-resistance applications, but the rise of o-rings was really a post-WW2 affair.

Another modern watch sealing material is Teflon - which really kicked into mass use in the 1970s. Teflon is commonly used as sealant between glass (crystal) and metal, and rubber as sealant between two highly-polished steel surfaces.

True water-resistant watches hit the market in the 1960s. The market leader was Rolex and Omega - and both companies are still regarded as makers of true divers’ watches. Of course, the competition has increased in the last two decades.

There are two myths associated with water resistance. The first one is the 'depth' in meters printed on the watch dial. In reality, that information is often the result of ambitious marketing rather than factual engineering. The second myth can be formulated like this: "Once waterproof, always waterproof". The truth is that for a watch to remain water-resistant, frequent maintenance is required: a new set of seals must be fitted at least every 3 years. In addition, a new winding crown (which contains o-rings inside) should be replaced as well. Only then will your watch be suitable for serious water-related activity.

No maintenance = no water resistance.

Vintage watches (watches older than 30-40 years) should NEVER be worn in the water. Avoiding shower and sauna is sign of sophistication and good-care practice.

Complete the blanks:

A responsible watch owner does not wear their watch in the ______________.

Seal replacement and water resistant test should be carried at least once every _____ years.

____________ watches should never been worn in water.

Happy collecting,

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