Concerns about temperature and climate’s effects on a watch often arise when we make travel plans that remove us from our daily surroundings. It is when we go to new places or break from the routine that we typically worry about what might happen to our watches, whether it be skiing, diving, climbing etc. Even if you are a frequent diver or adventurer you might forget every now and again that there are external factors acting on your watch and that there are some easy ways to deal with these factors.
Heading to the mountains?
When heading to the mountains you might wonder how your watch will be affected by temperature. According to Omega, their watches house mechanical movements that use oils that allow the watch to operate at temperatures between -20 and +70 C (-2 to +158 F). Baume & Mercier’s website warns “do not expose your watch to extreme temperatures (above 60ºC/140ºF, or below 0ºC/32ºF).” Each company will have slightly different standards, but keep in mind the inside of the watch must reach that temperature. That is extremely unlikely when you are wearing the watch on your wrist, even if diving in cold waters. According to Seiko, because mechanical watch parts are metal, they will slightly expand and contract with changes in temperature, and this influences accuracy. Normally, under high temperatures a watch tends to lose time, and under low temperatures it tends to gain time.
As for your quartz watch, it should also be designed to fully function at those temperatures, but you might notice more variation in mechanical accuracy than with an automatic watch. Do note that the electronic circuits used in a quartz movement can stop operating at cold temperatures that do not stop a mechanical watch movement, but unless you are going on an expedition out in the arctic, you are likely to be just fine with any movement in cold weather.
Trying to warm up after a long tiring day at the slopes? High water temperatures experienced in a hot tub can actually affect the watch, especially after coming from direct cold. Most diving and water activities are done in temperate to cold waters, not water above body temperature. High temperatures can damage the water protection seals of a watch. This exposure can also reduce the service life of the battery on a quartz watch and affect the viscosity of the lubricants. You might consider leaving the watch behind or keeping it above water level to maintain water resistance long term.
If you are heading to the heat of tropics:
If you are planning to enjoy a tropical resort this year, you are likely headed to sunshine, swimming, and pool time. Keep in mind that a sudden transition from the 100 plus degrees of a hot tub to a 70 degree cold pool causes a contraction of the rubber seals in a watch which could allow water to leak in. Even a heavy duty dive watch is susceptible to this issue. As drastic changes in temperature happen over time repeatedly your watch could be exposed to moisture damage. Thus, to better maintain the longevity of the watch, you might want to pop it off for a bit during the day for swimming. Keep in mind that salt water can cause corrosion to the case and it should be wiped down with fresh warm water after being exposed. If your watch has a rotating bezel, turn the bezel several times while rinsing it to prevent salt buildup and corrosion of the bezel ring. It is typically advised not to expose the watch for longer than one to two hours in a salt water environment. If you do think the watch has been exposed to moisture and the crystal appears foggy, take it to a service professional as soon as possible.
The best advice is to check your manufacturer’s manuals or website prior to heading into a new environment. Each company will provide exact references to temperature and also water resistance. Each manufacturer will have slightly different specs. Below we composed an average depth rating chart that many companies, such as Amazon.com use in conjunction with their wide assortment of watches.
|30 Meters / 100 Feet||3 ATM||Can withstand rain and splashes of water, such as car washing and showering, but it shouldn’t be worn swimming|
|50 Meters / 165 Feet||5 ATM||Suitable for swimming, as well as higher altitude sports, such as skiing and parachuting|
|100 Meters / 330 Feet||10 ATM||Suitable for snorkeling, as well as swimming|
|200 Meters / 660 Feet||20 ATM||Suitable for recreational scuba diving|
|300 Meters / 990 Feet||30 ATM||For use when scuba diving to a depth of 30 meters for up to 2 hours|
|500 Meters / 1650 Feet||50 ATM||For use when scuba diving to a depth of 50 meters for up to 2 hours|