Wearing your watches in the water

Citizen Eco-Drive

What is it about wearing your watch in the water that is so fascinating? While I am too scared to wear my most expensive watches in the water, I recently bought a Citizen Eco-Drive diver for the specific purpose of wearing in the pool and ocean. And I know guys who wear a watch into their own swimming pool just for the sake of wearing a watch in the water. What’s up with this?

I think it’s all about “doing” something with your watch as opposed to just staring at it on your wrist as you sit on the couch. When you go into a pool or into the sea, you are swimming and active and it feels like your watch is your companion on some little adventure. This is cool.

Blue sky, white sandy beach and a Longines Legend Diver.

I wore two different Longines Legend Divers on two consecutive vacations in Mexico. One of my best memories of those trips was sipping a cognac, looking at the stars, smoking a cigar and admiring my timepiece. Of course, the Legend Diver spent lots of time swimming. I have a great photo of myself holding my daughter in the pool with my Legend Diver sitting proudly on my wrist. That was cool.

Those vacations remind me about what Adam tried to tell me in the past. A few years ago, at the height of my obsessive watch trading, Adam told me to slow down. He said I should make memories with my watches instead of compulsively flipping every luxury watch I got. I certainly made memories in Mexico with the Longines watches.

And that’s really the whole appeal of wearing a watch into the water. It’s about making memories with the watch. As I write this, I am in New York State with my family. I am wearing my new Citizen Eco-Drive diving watch and I have spent the past hour in the pool with my daughter. We had fun. And I wore the Citizen in Montreal for several family days at La Ronde as well as several swimming sessions. The Eco-Drive is my “water watch” and has some great memories already.

Bulova Marine Star Automatic

There are risks to wearing a watch into the water and people often avoid submerging their most expensive watches. A single drop of water in the movement of a watch could ruin it and require a complete re-build. This could happen if a gasket has dried or cracked, or if the crown has unscrewed. Going for a dip with your luxury timepiece can present some risks to the delicate movement inside. For this reason, many guys have a “beater” or “vacation watch” to wear during rugged activities or water sports.

Of course, lots of guys still insist on wearing their expensive watches into the pool. I know a few guys like that and many (not all) are blissfully unaware of the risks of diving into the deep end wearing a 10-year-old mechanical watch. They think it’s cool to put their watches through some abuse because, after all, isn’t that what they are made for? One of my pals wears his TAG F1 to go water skiing. For these guys, a water resistance of 300m means that their watch can handle deep diving regardless of the age and service history of the watch. These guys, above all, want to live and enjoy experiences with their watches. For them, the whole value of a diving watch is its ability to follow its owner into the abyss.

Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue Dial

I also know some very sophisticated WIS who take their Panerai and Rolex into the ocean on vacations. They are careful and keep their watches well serviced. They understand the risks and believe in using and enjoying their watches to the fullest. They trust their machinery and believe in exploiting their water resistance. I, myself, have done this a few mechanical watches in the past. But today, I am too fearful and prefer not to take any risks.

For me, it’s a bit too much – the only thing keeping the movement from a complete overhaul is a tiny rubber gasket that may, or may not, have dried out. And I have discovered another hazard – sun cream. My pale white skin requires lots of SPF30 when I am out in the sun, and this cream finds its way all over my watch straps and case. It ruins the sheen on a nice, new watch. And it spoils any strap or bracelet. The mess caused by sun cream is a key reason why I now avoid taking my “best” watches onto the beach.

Some of my diving watches are chronographs. I have been told by AD’s to not even go NEAR the water with a chrono despite their water resistance of 300m. If a pusher is depressed while underwater, it would break the water seal and allow water into the movement. That would spell certain doom for the movement. Once again, it’s a question of risk. Before I knew about any of this stuff, I was taking my Aquaracer chrono into the pool, ocean, shower and hot tub. It has since had a full service and will no longer be doing any water sports. It survived in the past, but using it in the water now just feels too risky for me.

Oris Aquis Depth Gauge

Now that I think about it, I have never heard an actual story about anyone taking their watch into a pool and damaging anything. I know guys who swim with their Rolex and aren’t even aware that watches need periodic service. And I never heard any of them complain about water damage. Nevertheless – I’ve tempted fate enough in the past, with my TAG and Longines, and I’m playing safe from now on. I don’t want to take risks.

Whether or not you wear your best timepiece for water activities is a personal choice. You either live life to the fullest and take your watch along for the ride, or you preserve it in mint condition for future enjoyment of a different kind. In this case, you can go shopping for a “beater” or vacation watch.”

As always, the fun is in the search…

Yours truly,

TimeCaptain is a self-confessed timepiece junkie.  He spends nearly all of his spare time buying,  selling,  trading,  researching, admiring and trying different timepieces. He's also a fanatic Formula 1 fan, having followed every single Grand Prix since 1991.  He switches to NFL football in the fall and roots for the Green Bay Packers. A child of the 1980's, TimeCaptain is mad about 80's music,  TV, cinema and pop culture.  Another interest of TimeCaptain is space exploration and the study of distant planets and galaxies. When asked about his favorite watch,  TimeCaptain remembers Enzo Ferrari's answer as to his favorite car- "the one I haven't built yet."