Before we begin our look at waterproof watches for men, let’s visualize.
You’re at a party and there’s a big tub of ice that’s full of tasty drinks. You plunge your hand in to grab one and, as you do, smack! You realize that you’ve just put your cool new watch under water! Uh-oh.
Of course, the priority in this scenario is to collect yourself and enjoy the rest of the party. Then settle in here to get the answers to questions like:
- Is my watch waterproof?
- What does “water resistant” mean?
- I can shower with my watch on, can’t I?
- Did that tub of Buds ruin my watch?
Well it’s good that you have so many questions, because we’re going to, A) provide the simple overview of the whole waterproof thing and, B) we’re going to show you our 10 Best Waterproof Watches for Men. Some great looking pieces that, yes, you can get wet — to a greater or lesser extent. Before we get to the watches, let’s lay out the facts about H2O and watches.
UPDATE – This post was updated June 19, 2018 with current pricing.
Waterproof Watch vs. Water Resistant Watch
The big news with waterproof watches is this: there are no waterproof watches. Water resistant watches, yes. Waterproof, no. This isn’t a matter of semantics, or even marketing. It’s a fact that’s established by the ISO — the International Organization for Standardization. ISO is the global, United Nations-recognized organization that sets standards for trade and has been adopted by 163 member countries.
In this case, ISO 22810 establishes that the word “waterproof” can’t be used when talking about watches. In fact, there is a separate standard, ISO 6425, that specifically addresses dive watches, which is a breed of watch that is, generally, for the kind of folks who make their living working underwater (oil rigs, etc.). Even still, for both regular watches and dive watches, water resistant is the accepted terminology. Here, we are talking about water resistant watches.
Waterproof Watches: A Deep Subject
Okay, great: now that we know water resistant is what we’re looking for, it’s time to dive into the details of just how water resistant is that watch?
When it comes to getting wet, watches are rated using “atmospheres” as the rating scale. It’s simple: the deeper the water, the more atmospheres, or ATM. If you’re 10 meters under water, you’re at one ATM. If you’re under 100 meters (328 feet) of water, you’re at 10 ATM. When a watch is rated at 10 ATM, that means it can withstand the pressure exerted at 100 meters deep.
The ATM terminology is kinda “insider” watch industry stuff. For you and me, the water resistance of a watch is described relative to the depth. Here’s a handy gauge for your watch wearing needs:
10 Meters – 33 Feet – 1 ATM: don’t get it wet
30 Meters – 100 Feet – 3 ATM: water splashes, light rain are okay
50 Meters – 165 Feet – 5 ATM: you showered with the watch on: you’re cool
100 Meters – 330 Feet – 10 ATM: you can wear your watch while swimming
200 Meters – 660 Feet – 20 ATM: go ahead and snorkel or scuba dive
300 Meters – 1,000 Feet – 30 ATM: diver’s watch needed (but you probably knew that)
The key for you is to make sure you match your WP (wet propensity) with your W (watch). Are you going to be doing any deepwater scuba diving? No. So you don’t need a diver’s watch. Are you training for Ironman, and you’ll be swimming? Yes, so make sure your watch is at least 10 ATM. Are you allergic to water? Go ahead and forget about the whole waterproof/water resistant thing, get yourself something in Hello Kitty, and get help for that allergy!
Waterproof Watches: The Movie
In the meantime, take a moment to watch a cool little video from Hodinkee.com (a great website for high-end watch collectors) that shows what Rolex does when it runs one of its pieces through the water resistance test. We can’t vouch for the music in the video, but we do dig the cool retro equipment in the lab. (And, no, Rolex isn’t represented in this list because it was outside our price point parameters.)
One Last Word: Marketing and Waterproof Watches
Now that you got the guidelines, you’ll see that the manufacturers will often veer outside the swim lanes and say that their watch is “waterproof” or that their 3 ATM watch is okay for swimming. That’s when you, the consumer, need to make the decision. We hope that our guidelines will give you a clear idea of everything you need to know so you can make a smart buying decision. As for the look? That’s also up to you and we’re here to help with our 10 Best Waterproof Watches for Men: A Buyer’s Guide 2018.
1. Seiko SKX007 Diver’s Watch
For this piece, we think it’s sufficient to say “It’s great looking. You can wear it scuba diving. It’s a great price. Get it.” All simply true, but we have a few more things to say about the Seiko Men’s SKX007. For starters, it is almost the quintessential diver’s watch look. The black rubber band, the stainless steel case, the black dial with easy-to-see white, luminescent (glow-in-the-dark) hour and minute marks. Water resistant to 200 meters (660 feet), the Seiko is rock solid in performance, fantastic in appearance, and almost too good to be true in price. In fact, Jack Forster, editor-in-chief at the great watch website, Hodinkee, says this beauty is “…a rebuke to over-priced, over-decorated ‘luxury’ dive watches everywhere – and a perennially fantastic value proposition.” If you want to notch it up with Seiko a bit, this version (called “The Turtle”) is a great value. Of course, they’re both automatic, so the watch stays powered as long as you do (i.e., your movement winds it).
- Superior quality
- Almost crazy low price
- Automatic movement
- A bigger case might be nice
2. Nixon Men’s Chrono Analog Watch
Another terrific example of a simple, good looking, tough watch. The Nixon Men’s A4862069 48-20 Chrono is rated at 20 ATM (200 meters), so Nixon says it’s “…suitable for professional marine activity and serious surface water sports, but not scuba diving.” There are several cool features to this stainless steel watch: it’s a chronograph; the crown and pushers (push buttons) are on the left side of the case; the date indicator is at six o’clock; the even-numbered hours are HUGE (easy to read); and the case is finished in gun metal. As we’ve previously mentioned about Nixon in our list of the 10 Best Cool Watches for Men 2018, the company’s from Southern California and they’ve got a squad of pretty famous wearers on their “team.”
- Super easy to read
- Left side crown, pushers
- Stationary bezel
3. Luminox Evo Navy Seal Blackout
And in this corner we give you what is, probably, the toughest watch on the list. The Luminox Evo Navy Seal Blackout is, like the name says, made for the Navy Seals. Luminox, in fact, has long been making watches for several segments of the U.S. military. As such, this great piece has 24 hour time markings on the dial. The minute markers are on the outside rim (the bezel), which is uni-directional, meaning it can be turned either way. Just a quick glance at the watch and you know why it’s called “Blackout.” For something with a little color from Luminox, this orange dial number is a great option. Again, “tough” physically (because of its black polyester, carbon reinforced case) as well as its pedigree with the Navy Seals.
- Designed for Navy Seals
- Tonal black colorway
- Non stainless steel case
4. Casio Men’s Sport Analog Dive Watch
We’re plopping the Casio Dive Watch here because it’s so obviously designed with echos of the Luminox above. And, no, you do not need to adjust your vision: the price is correct. We’ll admit, the low price point did give us pause, but if you’ll note the reviews of this piece on Amazon, you’ll see it’s got more than 4,000 reviews and a super impressive 4.3 out of 5-star rating average. Also take notice of the ATM rating, which is to 100 meters. This is a good example of marketing making an odd intersection with industry standards. Casio calls it a “dive watch,” while 100 meters really isn’t within the range that generally qualifies as “diving.” Nevertheless, the water resistance is here, as is the very solid, good look of this resin-cased, resin-banded piece. If you’d like something that from Casio that goes deeper (both water and dollar speaking), this Frogman digital piece has several interesting features. We also noticed among the reviews that it might be tough to set the day and date, but once achieved, it works as expected. This dive watch is such a great price, you almost can’t go wrong.
Price: $16.49 (47 percent off MSRP)
- Solid looks
- Day/date tough to set
- Smaller case size (43mm)
5. Technomarine Cruise Original Chronograph
Technomarine has been producing its distinctive lineup from its Hollywood, Florida headquarters since 1997. The Cruise Original is a really solid example of a water resistant watch. Rated to 666 feet, the Cruise can be counted on to withstand a lot of H2O exposure. Reinforcing the water resistant capability is the screw-down crown. This chronograph features a 60 second sub-dial, a 12 hour sub-dial and a 1/10th second sub-dial. Its got a smallish date window at the 4 o’clock position.The bezel is unidirectional and the watch comes with both a black silicone strap and a white silicone strap.
- Solid 200 meter water resistance
- Handy case included
- Date window a bit small
6. Rip Curl Cambridge Watch
Rip Curl, the Australian surf company, says this watch — which is rated to 100 meters — is “…in general, suitable for swimming and snorkeling, but not scuba diving.” (Another example of the swirl of water resistant/waterproof information taking different tributaries, depending on who’s doing the talking.) Speaking of swirls, the silicone band features a marble swirl. The case is made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), which is known for its toughness. And in this case, those of you who like a smaller watch will like this piece, which is just 40mm across. The dial, in silvertone sunray, is about as minimalist as you can get, which is an interesting contrast to the busy band. And to contrast this piece with another Rip Curl watch, this Tidemaster — at a significantly higher price point — is very cool because it’s got a tide indicator sub-dial. Handy for those of you who surf; possible conversation starter for the rest of us inlanders.
- Unique band markings
- Clean look
- Text here
- Smaller case size (40mm)
- 100 meter water resistance
7. Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Aqualand
UPDATE – The price on this watch was recently hiked by more than $200. Proving that it pays to keep your eye on a watch you covet. The prices can fluctuate wildly (5/11/18, tr). A great looking watch with some very impressive features, the Citizen Promaster Aqualand is rated to 200 meters. You’ll know exactly how deep you are because the piece features a water depth sensor. In addition, it’s got a “rapid ascent warning alarm” that will sound if the wearer rises too fast (more than nine meters a minute — slow down!). Like our second entry on the list, the Nixon, the Promaster features two pushers (and the depth sensor) on the left side of the case. The crown, meanwhile, is at four o’clock on the traditional right side. It’s got a stainless steel case, and it is a big boy: 53mm, which is probably getting close to “wrist clock” size. (One reviewer on Amazon says that, without the pushers and crown, it comes in at 48mm, which is still formidable.) It’s also got a power reserve indicator on the left side of the dial. That power, by the way, is Citizen’s proprietary Eco-Drive, and it’s all about getting juiced up from light (any light). Once the piece is fully charged — which takes about a day-and-a-half if exposed to full sunlight — it’s ready to go for 11 months. That’s plenty of water time for you.
Price: $695.96 (27 percent off MSRP)
- Eco-Drive powered (light)
- Left side pushers
- Depth sensor
- Huge discount
- Unprotected crown
- Very large case (53mm)
8. Stuhrling Original Aquadiver Regatta
UPDATE – Price recently decreased by almost $60 (5/11/18, tr). Another heavy discount on a very solid entry, which was originally around $150 (a 50 percent reduction off MSRP). Stuhrling, a Brooklyn company, presents its Aquadiver Regatta with a 200 meter water resistance. It’s a very simple, somewhat classic diver’s watch look with a black matte dial and, yes, the company calls it a diver’s watch (again, remember the general standards we talked about in the intro). The uni-directional bezel is gear-edged and the screw-down crown is a feature that further strengthens the water resistance of the watch. The band is high-grade silicone and the indices (hour markers), as well as the hands, are luminescent.
- Huge discount
- Screw down crown
- Billed as diver’s watch
9. Citizen Men’s Eco-Dive Promaster Diver Watch
UPDATE – We recently added this watch to the list to give a more affordable option from the terrific Citizen brand (5/11/18, tr). This piece features a 200m water resistance, so you’ll be able to shower, swim and snorkel with it — to a reasonable degree. It’s a really nice looking watch, with a very large stainless steel case (48mm) and a notable molded poly band in blue (with a buckle closure). This features Citizen’s proprietary Eco-Drive (fueled by the sun, which powers the cells located under the dial), so you never have to worry about your watch stopping. There are several differences between this watch and the other Citizen on the list (#7), but it basically boils down to more features on #7. This has got a very clean, sporty look.
Price: $177 (40 percent off MSRP)
- 200m water resistance
- Eco-Drive power source
- Date window is a little small
10. Nautica Men’s Keywest Stainless Steel & Silicone Watch
In some ways, our tenth entry is a pretty simple watch. But, heck, it’s got that orange going on so it really stands out. This watch does warrant scrutiny beyond the bright color because there are some cool details. The hour markers, all silver, feature different international nautical flags and, yes, they each mean something. This piece is stainless steel with a brushed silver finish. The band, silicone orange, is complemented by the orange detailing found in and around the dial: the minute markers, the minute hand and the point end of the second hand. Nautica says this watch is “suitable for swimming and snorkeling, but not diving,” but, as we’ve pointed out, the buyer needs to take all the data (see intro above) into account before determining just how wet they wanna get their new piece!
Price: $115.35 (five percent off MSRP)
- Flag markings
- Billed as snorkeling ready
- 100 meter water resistant
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