Can You Wear Your (Waterproof) Watch In The Shower?
We get asked a lot, in our jewellers, about whether you can wear your watch in the shower.
Well, in our opinion, the answer is no, we don’t believe you should wear your watch in the shower – although there are a few exceptions.
Most people believe that, if a watch is stated as being Water Resistant, that it can be worn in a shower. But there is a big difference between “Water Resistant” and “Diver’s Watch“.
We believe this to be the case, even if it’s a divers watch – (although we admit, you ought to be OK to wear your diver’s watch in the shower BUT only if it’s tested to ISO 4625 standard).
More to the point, we would like to respectfully ask “Why would you want to wear your watch in the shower?”
There are only a few exceptions to this, that we can think of, which we’ll elaborate on later.
So, let’s get started with why we believe you shouldn’t wear your watch in the shower:
Water Resistancy Guidelines
Static Vs Moving Water
The ‘water resistance’ guide given to a watch, which is always stamped on the back of the watch, is an indication of the test given which tests the static water pressure someone subjected the watch to in a laboratory test, without it letting in water (or, often, without it letting out air – we talk about this in our Watch Water Resistance blog).
The key word here is static – ie the water wasn’t moving against the watch, which will only increase the pressure on the watch.
Consequently, a watch held under moving water such as a shower, a waterfall, or diving from a height, will put more pressure on the watch.
A diver’s watch will be tested to ISO standards (ISO stands for the International Organisation for Standardisation).
They also test watches in cool water.
We all know from our school day physics lessons that when a material is heated the atoms inside that material become more active and the material expands.
What happens with your watch, is that the metal in the case will expand when heated (and, conversely, contract when it cools). Because metal is more conductive than glass, the metal case will expand/contract at a different rate to the glass.
Consequently, the “fit” between the metal and the glass won’t be as tight-fitting (ie waterproof) as it was before.
Therefore, a Water Resistance test is made to withstand static pressure and stable, cool temperatures. Neither of which happens in a shower!
If there is any opening or damage to the gasket a small amount of air will be sucked into the watch. If this happens in a humid atmosphere (such as a steamy bathroom) then moist air will get inside your watch.
The rubber seals inside a watch (the gaskets) are prone to wearing. The wear on gaskets will increase if they have been subjected to moisture or soaps. They are, after all, just little pieces of rubber.
When we carry out watch battery replacement we regularly come across a seal which has stretched, to the point that it is quite a job to get it to fit properly inside the watch again – it’s one of the reasons it’s important to get your watch serviced regularly.
Diver’s watches, which are tested in accordance to an ISO test, will be tested to withstand much higher pressure and also temperature changes so you actually should be able to wear your diver’s watch in the shower.
ISO 22810 vs ISO 4625
The International Organisiation Standarisation (ISO) created a new test in 2010 for Diver’s watches which meant each and every watch with the new ISO had to pass more stringent water resistance tests. The ISO 22810 test means the manufacturer can test a sampling of the watches to be able to withstand depths of water resistance.
Therefore, a 100-metre water-resistant watch made pre-2010 may not be as water-resistant as on made from 2010 which had to follow the new ISO test.
Having said that, you can only really guarantee it is safe to wear your diver’s watch in the shower if you have had regular services done to your watch – it is recommended that a service is carried out annually – which, we’d argue, most people don’t get this done.
A watch can suffer wear to gaskets, shocks or knocks to the crown – all these things will affect the wear and tear to the gaskets.
Soaps and Shampoo's
Soaps and shampoo won’t do your watch any favours.
Detergents will damage the rubber gaskets if it comes into contact with them.
If you do get soap or shampoo on your watch rinse it with clear, cool water afterwards to remove any debris.
Regular Servicing Will Be Imperative
Showering with your watch on will mean you should have your watched serviced regularly to check there is no damage to the seals.
Water Resistance Can't Be Guaranteed After a Battery Replacement
Once the back has been removed from a watch, for instance to replace the battery, you can’t 100% guarantee that the watch will be as water-resistant as it was pre-removal.
In order to guarantee this, it will need to be pressure tested after the battery has been replaced.
Screw-back watches are less prone to losing their degree of ‘sealing’ after a battery replacement (hence most watches with higher water resistance will have a screw back – and often a screw winder).
It's More Hygienic To Remove Your Watch To Shower
We’re going to stick our neck on the line now and say that, in our humble opinion, it is more hygienic to remove your watch to shower. (The same goes for sleeping in your watch). We’ll explain why…
We are shedding skin cells all the time – which is rather a gross subject but it’s true. We also release oils from our skin throughout the day and night. A mixture of skin cells and natural oils … well, you can imagine.
This is all perfectly natural. This ‘debris’ will collect in nooks and crannies.
You wouldn’t shower in your T-shirt or vest because you probably wouldn’t feel properly cleansed. We’d argue that the same applies to your watch.
We carry out lots of watch battery replacements every day. Take it from us, debris collects behind watches, even the most hygienic of us. If each of us inspected the back of our watch, or where the strap meets the case, most of us would be a bit shocked.
We want to reiterate, this in no way implies that we are dirty. It’s quite normal, even with the cleanest of us.
But leaving your watch on 24/7 is not as hygienic (for you or your watch) as removing it when you bathe.
In fact, studies carried out at the outset of the Corona Virus outbreak found that skin under rings carried more germs than skin on fingers without rings demonstrating that rings should be removed regularly when washing our hands and they should be cleaned separately.
Whilst your watch is on your wrist and does not come into contact with anywhere near as much “stuff” as the rings on our fingers, they should still also be regularly removed.
Why Shower With Your Watch On?
But why shower with your watch on? We have tried to think of the reasons people give when saying they want to be able to wear their watch in the shower.
Reason 1: It Saves Time
It probably adds 5 seconds to your day to remove your watch before showering. If you shower in the morning, you don’t even need to remove your watch (we’re assuming you don’t wear your watch to bed – which, as already said, you shouldn’t do either).
It takes all of 5-10 seconds to put your watch on.
Reason 2: It Cleans Your Watch
It doesn’t. Also remember that leather straps should never get wet under any circumstances.
Reason 3: It’s UnSafe To Remove It To Shower
We’ll definitely give you that this is a valid reason to leave your waterproof watch on whilst showering. In fact, it’s one of our two reasons to do so.
If you’re away from home (or even if you’re at home but fear you just increase the likelihood of dropping your watch with repeated removal) and in a situation where you wouldn’t want to take the chance of removing your watch to shower, for fear it may get stolen, mislaid or damaged then, yes, definitely keep it on.
Reason 4: Because I’ve Got A Quality Watch
We also can understand this reasoning. You’ve got a fabulous watch, beautifully built and of the highest workmanship. It’s built to be able to withstand all the things that lesser watches just can’t handle.
We agree, a beautiful watch oozes all the hours and years of quality workmanship, love and dedication that goes into creating a beautiful item, much like driving a beautiful car.
You could argue that a watch of divers quality is designed to withstand treatment such as showering (but is it?), so it’s a great thing to be able to use it as it’s designed to be used. We can understand this, but there are also other factors to bear in mind here.
a) Has it been regularly serviced? If not, you are risking it in trusting the gaskets are all in good order.
b) Was the watch made pre-2010 (when the new diver’s ISO 4625 standard was created – watches made before this date didn’t have the stringent tests they had to pass the 2010 ISO test). This incredibly interesting article explains the difference here.
Reasons To Keep Your Watch On Whilst Showering
As just mentioned, the only time we wouldn’t recommend removing your watch (or other jewellery) to bathe is if it is unsafe to do so (for instance, if you are on a beach, camping or at a swimming pool) and wouldn’t want to take the risk of putting your watch somewhere whilst you shower.
In this instance, it’s probably safer and more secure to keep your waterproof watch on.
With a quality watch, the safest places for it is either on your wrist or in a safe.
On the other hand, to use a cheesy pun, if you have a cheap or fashion watch you’re not that worried about damaging but you’re in a situation where you want to wear a watch most of the time (ie on holiday) you may want to just keep your watch on and forget about it.
To Sum Up ...
A watch is a beautiful thing, and the best way of looking after it is to remove it whilst showering. t’s a tiny inconvenience that will pay dividends by protecting the fabulous timepiece on your wrist.
Or if you want to shower (or immerse your watch in any water) do so at your own peril, unless you have the guarantee and have had regular servicing to keep the guarantee valid.