Rolex watches come with a laundry list of resistances and hard-wearing design choices that make them tougher than the average timepiece. Rolex themselves have made various strides in the materials they use and the way they arrange their watch builds to protect them against lifetimes of use.
Water damage can be hard to prevent and a single accident can ruin an expensive watch. How does Rolex account for this in their watch builds? Are Rolex watches waterproof, and to what degree?
Are all Rolex watches waterproof?
Technically speaking, no watch is waterproof. Every watch has a limit to how much water pressure it can handle, and though many Rolex watches can handle incredible depths, eventually water would be able to force its way in. This is an oft-overlooked caveat between the terms ‘waterproof’ and ‘water-resistant’, but it’s important enough that calling a watch waterproof has been illegal in the U.S. since a 1960 decision by the FTC.
However, all Rolex watches are water-resistant, though the depth to which this is effective varies between different Rolex series.
The amount of water a watch can resist is often given in metres, sometimes written as mAq (metres of aqua). In waterproofing, 10 metres roughly equates to 1 bar of pressure. For reference, the necessary pressure of the average home’s central heating system is 1-2 bars. For a Rolex watch that’s water-resistant to 100m, imagine it holding back at least five times the pressure of your home’s heating system!
Rolex are arguably the pioneers of water-resistant wristwatches. The Rolex Oyster Case, invented in 1926, was the first ever water-resistant (then-claimed waterproof) case created for watches. Its design is hermetic, and works by keeping the watch parts in the middle of the case where they can be protected by the tightly interconnecting case parts.
The bezel and case back screw tightly to the middle of the case, and the middle case has a hole where the winding crown is screwed in. Everything comes together to create a watertight seal, and this original design has been improved upon since.
Now, innovations like Rolex’s Triplock winding crown grant even more water protection. The Triplock system adds an additional sealed zone to the case which vastly increases its water resistance.
Rolex don’t just add these claims to their watches, either; they actively test Oyster Perpetual models to ensure their build quality will hold up. Before being officially signed off, each Oyster is immersed in water until it’s withstanding 10% more pressure than its guaranteed depth (e.g. a 100m Oyster Perpetual will be put under 110m of water pressure).
No watch can ever truly be waterproof, but Rolex watches can resist a lot of water to the point that this nuance will rarely ever matter.
Different Rolex watches and their water-resistant ratings
The Rolex Cellini is on the shallower end of water resistance at 50m, which is still considerable protection for an everyday wearer. It can withstand brief submersions and wearing it whilst swimming is unlikely to break anything. Despite this, it’s unsuitable for diving or prolonged time in deep water.
Datejust, Oyster Perpetual, and GMT-Master II
The next lowest water resistance rating of 100m is common across many Rolex watch lines such as the Datejust, Oyster Perpetual, and GMT-Master II. This can arguably be considered the baseline water resistance for Rolex watches, and should be more than enough for the average everyday wearer.
100m of water resistance will stand up to sports use and should stand up to swimming and water sports. Submersion should generally present no problem for watches at this rating, however, users who wish to wear their watch during deep sea diving will likely want to consider a Rolex made for such an occasion.
The Rolex Submariner is an iconic example of a water-resistant watch. Released in 1953, it was the first dive watch to be water-resistant to 100m, and design improvements have increased the Submariner’s rating over time. Now, Rolex Submariners are water resistant up to 300m.
300m water resistance is safe for all but the most demanding dives and deep sea excursions. High-intensity water sports and prolonged scuba diving shouldn’t be any problem for a watch like the Submariner, but Rolex have even tougher options than these.
The Rolex Sea-Dweller is built to withstand up to 1,220m of water pressure. This is suitable for specialised saturation divers. Apart from throwing the watch into the ocean, there is nothing the average wearer can subject it to that will meet this upper limit.
Finally, there is the Rolex Deepsea – a ‘bombproof’ watch that sports up to 3,900m of water resistance. The Deepsea is a masterwork of tough timepieces, and every single one is tested by Rolex in a 1.3 tonne, stainless steel, hyperbaric tank that simulates the pressure at 4,875m below sea level.
This means the watches are tested to a 25% increase on their upper limit to truly prove the toughness of their design.
Can you shower with a Rolex on?
Generally, a Rolex watch is made to withstand much tougher stuff than the low pressure water sprinkles of a shower. However, it must be remembered that stainless steel is not rust-proof.
Occasionally wearing your watch in the shower isn’t likely to cause any damage whatsoever, but constantly getting it wet might be best avoided to ensure your watch’s sheen and condition stays optimal.
Where to buy a waterproof Rolex watch
Turn to Cheshire Chrono Solutions for the ideal watch to withstand splashes, rain, and showers. Our expert advice can point you in the direction of any water-resistant watch appropriate to your needs and for the best price. Turn to us to source your next Rolex timepiece.
To find out more about our services, contact us today.