Modern watchmaking has evolved to an extent that could never have been predicted in the earlier days of the watchmaking industry. The times were quite different and so were the watches. Pocket watches were more popular and wrist watches were still a novelty. Watches were much simpler and minimalistic. That applied to the verbiage as well. After all, horologists were still on the verge of opening pandoras box. Watches were watches and they told time.
It wasn’t until the exploration of the automatic movement that watchmaking truly unfurled fully. Tool watches has a major role to play in this as well. One such device that forced the world to play attention was the diver’s watch.
The Truth About Waterproofness
Waltham Depollier ‘waterproof’ watch
Waterproof watches and their unique capability to preventing water to seep inside the case has always been the fascination of people. No one’s to blame too. The diver’s watch is an astute example of what human endeavour can truly achieve.
Water is the single greatest enemy of watches. To put it in simpler terms, water is bad for watches. Not only will it bring wrath on the aesthetic front by ruining the dial, but it will also castigate the mechanical parts by corroding them. Modern elements like silicon will survive but such materials are still rare in the majority of watches.
When you read the words ‘water’ and ‘resistant’ side by side, in that order, you automatically feel more confident in the watch’s abilities. Such is the power of those words. Some watchmakers even used the term ‘waterproof’ for boasting the functionality of their watches. The term waterproof is very vague, though. In fact, the battle between waterproof and water resistance is a long and interesting one.
Federal Trade Commission Intervention And The Departure Of Waterproofness
When you mention water ‘proof’ on a watch, it is an absolute without any exceptions. It means that regardless of what depth you dive to, the watch will prevent any water from entering it. That is exactly what happened, that is, until 1960 when the FTC or the Federal Trade Commission in the United States of America got involved. These guidelines were, however, applicable only in the United States. The motive was to make guidelines that would act as guard rails for consumers. It made sure people got what it was and not something that they thought it would be.
But the message seemed to have gotten across the global watchmaking industry. Watchmaker slowly stated to get rid of the ‘proof’ and replaced it by a more suitable ‘resistant’. This was followed by the companies mentioning the exact depth to which the resistance was applicable to. The standards for water resistance also came to existence. ISO 2281 for water resistance and ISO 6425 for divers’ watches.
Present Day and The Future
In 1999, the FTC took back the guidelines from their records and rescinded them for good. The clarification included the terms ‘irrelevant’ and ‘outdated’. It was also mentioned that watchmakers around the world already adhere to the guidelines to the extent that they were not needed. So, with the guidelines nowhere to be seen, at least in the American markets, watchmakers are now free to use the term once again.
Fortunately, by the looks of it, ‘waterproof’ is not making a comeback anytime soon. Even smartwatch companies prefer to use the term ‘water resistant’ instead of proof.
To sum things up, your watch is not waterproof, it is water resistant. Have a good day!