So your watch is water resistant or waterproof, and you wonder: can I wear my watch in the shower? There is actually a lot of elements that will prevent you from showering with your favorite piece on.
But before putting your watch to the test, you might have to read what the manufacturer is telling you to do. Also, gathering experiences from other watch enthusiast is a good idea. But you don’t have to, I just did for you. Read on!
Don’t wear your watch in the shower. They are not designed to withstand warm water. When your watches cools down after the shower, moist air gets sucked into the case. Doing this repeatedly will deteriorate the movement, even if your watch is water resistant or if it’s a dive watch with a depth rating of 100 m or more.
I dive into more details in this article, along with the only case when it’s okay to shower with your watch on.
Why wearing a watch in the shower is a bad idea
I really didn’t trust the water rating on watches, so I never showered with one of my watches on my wrist. But I wondered: what can happen, really? A 200m water resistant watch should handle a shower just fine, right?
Wrong. And here is why.
There is no such thing as a waterproof watch
Water will get into your watch at some point. Some have a really small 1 bar or 10 m of water resistance: I wouldn’t wear these even to wash my hands for a few seconds.
Some can go as deep as 4000 feet or 1220 m (this is crazy deep). The fact remains: at some point, the water pressure will crack your watch’s crystal or gaskets, and it will get into it. Yes, it needs a lot of pressure, but that pressure is reachable in nature if you go deep enough.
Now, you might think: come on, I’m not 100 m deep in water when I shower!
That’s true, but here is the thing: the water freefalls onto your watch. The speed the water gains from falling adds up a lot more pressure than if you were to gently submerge your watch 2 inch (or 5 cm) deep in water.
So the pressure might not be the same as if you were deep diving, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that – yes – a shower puts the water resistance of your watch to the test. Not a crazy amount of pressure, but still.
Same goes for IP ratings: you can only submerge those watches for so deep or so long before it will let water leak in.
You don’t know if the water resistance rating is correct
Some cheap or fashion watch brands tend to be overly optimistic about their water resistance ratings.
Don’t take a chance on trying to find out if the marking on your watch is correct. If you don’t trust the brand (or don’t know it at all), do not take those water resistance rating for granted, and always assume that they are less water resistant than they claim.
Better safe than sorry.
Water resistance drops over time
After a few years of wear and tear, your watch case is not as new and shiny as it used to be.
Same goes for all the parts that prevent the water from getting in your watch. Due to air humidity, temperature or any other external aggression that life throws at your favorite timepiece, some vital parts may have worn out to the point where the water resistance of your watch is not the one you can read on its dial or back anymore.
Gaskets lose their ability to contract and expand, crowns and pusher have a harder time screwing in or popping back into place, crystal crack. It’s just the way it is: your watch is a living object, and it ages – just like us.
As a result, over time, your watch may lose some of its water resistance rating. Wearing it the shower will reduce the amount of time between servicings even more, so that you will have to send it for servicing more often if you want it to perform at factory specifications.
You will damage your leather strap
Whereas a metal bracelet or a Nato strap (a specific kind of strap made if nylon) can handle water just fine, your leather band won’t.
You should never let your leather strap get wet. If you don’t want the leather to deteriorate prematurely, you really should prevent to expose your strap to high humidity, moisture, intense direct light, or oil products (including cosmetic ones). Also, this could cause your strap to stain or discolor.
You have a complicated, delicate, luxurious or vintage watch
Here, complicated means “that has a lot of complications”.
A complicated watch is any watch that has more than just one crown. Think of chronographs, or watches with a perpetual calendar, rotating bezel with a second crown, or any other special functions. Same goes for multi-pusher electronic watches. Those added pushers are added paths for the water to creep into your watch.
Also, if you have plated or coated watches (gold plated, DLC coated, PVD coated, …), you really don’t want to damage your piece, do you?
And last but not least, you really, really don’t want to test if your luxury piece or vintage watch can handle a shower. There is a lot of value – both sentimental and financial – attached to this kind of watches. And this is enough for me to not even think of putting this kind of watches near a drop of water (shower or not).
Swimming and diving are not the same things as showering
Yes, you can swim with ISO certified watches, no problem. Even non-ISO certified watch can handle a bath in the sea or even a dive without a problem. But not a shower. Because swimming and diving are simply not the same things as showering.
Getting your watch wet is not the actual problem here. Temperature change and a humid environment are. Let me explain.
Most watches are not air resistant. What’s the link, you say? When the watch heats up under warm water, the air inside the watch expands air gets pushed out of the watch case. This is because the seals used in the watch are not designed to prevent gas or air from passing, just water.
So when your watch cools down after getting out of the shower, the air inside the watch cools down as well, it contracts, and new air is now sucked back into the watch. Since your watch is now likely to still be in a moist environment (aka your bathroom full of humid air), the air that gets into your watch is moist, too.
Do that repeatedly and that moisture will oxidise and speed up the break-down of the oils that are used inside your watch’s movement to keep the parts moving. You really don’t want that.
Also, when showering, you use soap, which most gaskets and seal are not intended to handle or provide a protection against. Any kind of greasy, oily or soapy liquid is really not advised to get your watch submerged in.
It’s just plain useless
Seriously now: can’t you let go of your watch for just 5 minutes?
Can you wear a dive watch in the shower?
Of all the analog watches out there, these might be the only ones that I would trust to go under a shower. But there again: only if it’s an ISO certified watch – like the all-mighty Seiko SKX007 or Seiko SKX013 (read my full review of the Seiko SKX013). And only if I really, really need to – read on for a few thoughts about this.
When you swim or dive, your watch is submerged in salted water. This is why you have to rinse your watch under clear, tepid (or cold) water afterward, and then dry it thoroughly.
Same goes for after you get out of the shower: please rinse your watch with clean water and dry it. And try to do this in an environment with lest moisture possible (to prevent moist air to get back into your watch case).
Can you wear a Casio G-Shock watch in the shower?
Of all the digital watches out there, a Casio G-Shock might be the only model to trust to go in the shower.
I wouldn’t wear a G-Shock in the shower unless I really have to. But if I do and it gets damaged, most of the time, you will kill a watch that is pretty affordable, so it’s not really a big deal after all.
Now, do I want an electronic watch to die? Of course not.
I like to keep my timepieces in perfect condition, even my most affordable and less precious ones. My Casio G-Shock GW-M5610 is no exception. It may not be precious, but it has sentimental value. (Check my full review of the Casio G-Shock GW-M5610.)
Just make sure that you get a model that is water resistant to 200 m or more, and you should be fine.
Can you wear an Apple Watch in the shower?
No, you can’t. At least, you shouldn’t.
Here is what Apple says about wearing your Apple Watch (Series 1, 2 or 3) in the shower:
Showering with Apple Watch Series 2 and Apple Watch Series 3 is ok, but we recommend not exposing Apple Watch to soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and perfumes as they can negatively affect water seals and acoustic membranes. Apple Watch should be cleaned with fresh water and dried with a lint free-cloth if it comes in contact with anything other than fresh water. – source: https://support.apple.com/en-us/ht205000
Don’t take any chance and ruin your precious Apple Watch. I bet you can live without having your heart rate or email notifications for 5 minutes, right?
When it’s okay to wear a watch in the shower
Here a is the only case where you could wear your watch in the shower: when you have no safe place to put your watch while you shower. Read: when it’s not safe for your *not* to wear it. Because you’re in a hostile or unfamiliar environment. That’s it. In my opinion, all the rest are merely excuses, not reasons.
Maybe you want to wear your watch while showering – because it’s fun or you want to test its water resistance or… you tell me – but you certainly don’t need to.
And when you do:
- make sure you have a ISO certified watch
- never operate or even touch the crown or pushers
- take a cold shower, if possible
- don’t use soap
- rinse your watch under clean, cold water afterward
- dry it when you’re done
In case of doubt, don’t take any risk or chances: do not wear your watch in the shower.
You never know if your gaskets and seals are still in good conditions, how the crown and pushers have evolved over time or if the water rating is actually real (especially for cheap and fashion watch brands).
You really don’t want to damage your timepiece just for a few seconds of fun. Take it off your wrist and put it safely on the side. Time is precious, and you want to keep track of it, but it can wait for a shower!