What Does a 'Water-Resistant' Watch Really Mean?

So Which Watches are Triathlete-Safe?

The watch company Tech4O has a great breakdown of the categories that are generally agreed upon by many watch manufacturers. It states:

  • No Declaration: Not water resistant, don't get it wet.
  • Water Resistant: Can resist splashing and other minor contact with water, but no more.
  • Water Resistant 30m: Can resist splashing, rain, and getting wet occasionally. Not recommended for training swims, snorkeling or diving.
  • Water Resistant 50m: Good for some swimming and white water rafting. Not recommended for snorkeling or diving.
  • Water Resistant 100m: Good for training swims, surfing, snorkeling and pretty much all water sports. Not suited for fishing or diving.
  • Water Resistant 200m: Good for almost anything but deep-water diving.

Again, these are rough guidelines, not legally binding facts. But it does give you an idea of how sturdy your watch is to the aquatic elements.

More: Active Gear Scout: Heart Rate Monitors and GPS Watches

Your Watch Evolves

Keep in mind that your watch is labeled according to how resistant it is fresh out of the box. A 5-year-old watch's resistance will wear down over time. Sudden temperature changes, repeated use during training swims, and other factors can wear down the watch's ability to seal off water and stay resistant.

If you're leery about taking your old watch into the water, most watch shops can provide water-resistant testing.

Many watches marketed toward triathletes—Timex's Ironman series, for instance—typically has either 50m or 100m resistance. Whatever the level, make sure you look into it while shopping for a triathlon training watch.

More: 10 Tips for Riding in the Rain

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