From luxury watches to low-cost, when it comes to buying the right one, the characteristic of water-resistance can often be a deciding factor for exigent shoppers. But what exactly does this term mean and how can customers be sure that all brands are using equivalent measures?

For example, if a watch is said to be “water resistant” to 30 meters (100 feet), this means that for all aquatic activities down to a depth of 30 meters, the watch case should not leak. The manufacturer of a water-resistant watch may offer ratings to help consumers determine the sort of environment the watch can handle.

ISO 22810:2010, Horology – Water-resistant watches, has been drawn up to meet a global demand for clear and unambiguous specifications in this area. It clarifies the terms used, defines the criteria to be met by the product and specifies the marking which may appear on the product.

“The new ISO standard represents a win-win situation for both industry and consumers,” said Vincent Grossenbacher, Secretary of the subcommittee that developed the new standard.  “For the first time, manufacturers are free to choose the tests and sampling plan, on condition that the end product meets the requirements of ISO 22810. Consumers, on the other hand, gain guaranteed protection that any watch on the market sold as water-resistant must satisfy ISO 22810 – regardless of the brand.”

ISO 22810 replaces ISO 2281 which has been used by the industry since 1990 when it was first published by ISO. The new 2010 edition removes any ambiguities and brings the content up to date with state-of-the-art developments.  

ISO 22810 adopts not only a technical approach by giving a set of minimum requirements for water-resistant watches, but also seeks to give consumers useful information – precautions for use, notions of physics – and better all-round protection. It is expected to make a huge splash in the horology industry, ensuring timeless quality and continued customer satisfaction.

ISO 22810 covers watches intended only for daily use and for swimming, while ISO 6425 covers watches that can be used while scuba diving.

ISO 22810:2010, Horology – Water-resistant watches, was prepared by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 114, Horology, subcommittee SC 3, Water-resistant watches, and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details) and may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, price 58 Swiss francs, through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication and Information department (see right-hand column).