As any spider knows, the number of feet you have is no measure of your toughness … In a huge leap of logic, but not truth, the same is true of the number of feet that your watch is marked as water-resistant to.
In order to avoid upsets later, check out the guidelines below for what you can do wearing a watch that is marked as ‘Water Resistant to x meters’ … it actually doesn’t mean that you can cavort around under the sea at that depth for indefinite periods. When manufacturers test watches, they are subjected to water at lower pressure for a longer period of time, and then water at a higher pressure for a shorter period of time, with the times and pressures varying to give different ‘feet’ equivalents. Always remember that different manufacturers will have different ideas of stringency in testing, and it is better to go with a more well-known, or larger brand, if you are looking for a watch specifically designed to go underwater.
If you are looking at 50m water resistant watches, these are generally okay for immersion in tubs of water – for example, washing tubs and kitchen sinks. They would be fine for a person to wear while washing the dishes, or a worker to wear while cleaning up their hands.
Watches that are marked water-resistant to 100m are safe to wear while you are swimming … however, not swimming at greater depths. This means that if your swimming pool has a 5m diving area (and you have the you-know-whats to jump off the 15m board into it!), that if you do this repeatedly, your watch may suffer. However, fine for lap swimmers and surfers.
If your watch is marked as water resistant to 200m, then it is generally okay for beginner scuba diving, which is up to a depth of 30m below the surface. You could also translate this toughness into other terms – for example, watches built like this should be fine for hard wear under less water (when you are doing the dishes really violently!), when they are likely to be knocked or banged while under water. Be aware though, that watches that are suitable for diving (and say so on their packaging or description) must conform to a different international standard than standard water resistant watches – ISO6425 is the standard for diving watches, while ISO2281 is the standard for generally water resistant watches.
If you manage to find a watch which is water resistant to 1000m, lucky you can go down in the ocean to around 500m, at which depth the weight of all that water on top of you is slowly killing you – woohoo! Then again, you could also do our rough toughness translation, which means that these watches should be fine for salt and fresh water use, to resist knocks under water, to resist rapid or reasonably extreme under water temperatures, and for going up and down while diving.
Remember, it is better to be safe than sorry – don’t do your own trial and error tests on your gorgeous new watch!