What does 10 ATM water resistance mean?

Vaer Watches Updated by Vaer Watches

A 10 ATM watch indicates 10 atmospheres or 100 meters of water resistance, which, in real-world environments translates to casual underwater submersion. For extended water use, a screwdown crown is an important feature to look for in all 10 ATM watches.

One of the biggest things to keep in mind when shopping for watches is that it's ONLY at 10 ATM that the question of water-resistant vs. waterproof starts to become negligible. 10 ATM is the base requirement for extended water submersion and it should be the minimum specification to seek out when purchasing a watch that will be used in the outdoors.

However, just because a watch is rated to 10 ATM doesn't mean it can't fail in the water. The 100 meter rating is based on static pressure in a controlled environment, and for this reason, it is very possible for a 10 ATM watch to flood when used in the real world. This type of failure typically occurs at the crown - either from user error (i.e. forgetting to push the crown back in fully after changing the time), a manufacturing defect, or accidental impact underwater that knocks the crown out of place.  

"Water resistance ratings are one of the most confusing and manipulative aspects of the casual watch market. Many brands promote the functional value of 3ATM and 5ATM ratings, which would seem to be more than enough to protect a watch from flooding. However, the reality is that any rating below 10ATM is a liability and a cost-cutting choice and should be chosen with caution particularly on tool and field watch designs."

- Reagan Cook, Vaer Co-Founder

Due to the ever-present risk of crown failure, very few watches, even those marketed as 10 ATM will include a warranty covering water-related damage.

Why is a screwdown crown important on 10 ATM watches?

In order to have a watch that you can repeatedly take in the water without worrying about it ever flooding, you're going to want a screwdown crown. Almost all watches at 20 ATM and above have this feature, and it's generally associated with luxury divers. At the 10 ATM level, screwdown crowns are much less common, especially on non-dive style watches.

At Vaer every watch we make comes with a locking screwdown crown to ensure an airtight seal at the most vulnerable point on the case.

Our confidence in guaranteeing our watches are waterproof vs. water-resistant comes from personal experience. Vaer is headquartered half a mile from the Pacific ocean, and as founders, we try to get in the water several times every week. Our watches have endured hundreds of hours of pounding shore break, and prolonged salt-water exposure - and thanks to the screwdown crown they've always kept ticking.

While we openly admit that our 10 ATM watches will flood at extreme depths (likely at a depth of around 120 meters), this type of exposure is so rare that we're always willing to replace the watch of an owner that tries to pull it off (thus far, it's never happened).

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