Some people can be confused about their watch’s ability to fend off water and condensation. While many watches are marketed as "water-resistant," this does not mean that they are water proof.
Some watches are rated as water-resistant to depths of up to a thousand feet, but that doesn’t mean they will stay water-free, especially as they age.
If you pull your favorite timepiece out of a drawer and find water inside the watch, there are steps you can take to remove moisture from your watch and return it to its normal condition.
Before we look at how to get water out of a watch, let’s look at some of the reasons you can find yourself with this problem.
Condensation is the most common cause of water damage in a watch.
This can be caused by a temperature or humidity difference between the inside and outside of the watch if the water-resistant seal is compromised or absent; even gaps around watch winders can cause condensation to form. This is usually the culprit if you have a foggy watch face.
Some watches are not water-resistant at all, which means condensation has an easier path to form. If you see condensation on the inside of your watch, the first thing you must do is remove the watch face.
Completely taking your watch apart is an option, but not necessarily one the average person wants to do as a home repair.
Even if your watch has some form of water resistance, usually in the form of a seal or O-ring gasket, water can still find its way into your timepiece if you submerge it in water by accident.
In most cases, your watch will no longer work properly.
Let’s look at how to fix these problems.
How to Get Condensation Out of Your Watch
If you’re unfamiliar with the inner workings of a watch, you may feel a bit lost when you realize it looks like you have steam inside your watch.
Luckily, there is a very easy fix you can use to get the mist out. There are various things that can be used to absorb the moisture and return your watch to working order:
- Silica gel
- Cat litter
- Uncooked rice
The process with each is the same; place your watch in a small container with around a quarter cup of any of these that you have available.
Silica gel is a good option and is usually included in the packaging of electronics for exactly this purpose (this is what’s in the small packets labeled “Do not eat” inside electronics packaging.
Cat litter is another good option, as it is specifically designed to absorb moisture.
There’s some controversy around the use of uncooked rice – some people swear it works, but others assert that it’s no better than simply leaving your watch in a warm place to dry.
After all, rice doesn’t usually absorb water unless it’s cooked. If you want to try it, make sure you use instant rice, which is reportedly more effective at absorbing droplets of water.
You’ll want to leave your watch in the container for at least a day, but two days will most likely give you the best results.
Turn up the Heat
Another method that can be used to defog a watch can be a bit more involved.
Remove the back from your watch, and if possible, remove the inner workings as well. Be careful if you choose to do this, as it’s easy to damage an open watch!
Once your watch is open or disassembled, lay the pieces on a window sill in the sun or under a bright lamp. This will allow the inside of the watch to dry completely, and when you reassemble it, the steam inside will be gone.
One thing to remember about this and all other methods of removing condensation from a watch is that this doesn’t correct the problem that led to the condensation forming in the first place, so it may – and most likely will – happen again.
How to Dry Out a Watch
Condensation isn’t the only way your watch can end up with water inside its case. If the water resistance of your watch is faulty, anything from bathing to simply washing your hands can lead to water inside your watch.
Of course, the type of watch you have plays a large part in how much (if any) damage your watch can suffer from water. Even though electronic watches are the most vulnerable to water damage, even the best mechanical watches under $500 can cease to function in the presence of significant condensation.
First, follow the steps listed above; use one of those methods to dry your watch out, either with an absorbent material or heat. The longer the water stays in your watch, the more chance there is that it will cause severe problems.
Be careful when using heat to dry a watch, because too much heat can damage the inner workings, leaving you with a worse problem than just how to get water out of a watch.
Consult a Professional
After you’ve dried your watch properly, if it still isn’t working you have one final option: you and your watch will have to pay a visit to a reputable watchmaker or repairer.
This is not always the same thing as a jeweler, and you will most likely be disappointed if you take your watch to a jewelry store.
The watchmaker will take your watch apart completely, drying each individual piece and checking for signs of rust or warping.
A watch is a very delicate piece of engineering, usually with over one hundred separate pieces inside that make it work. A problem with just one could render your watch unable to keep time.
Water inside a watch is an immediate problem that can lead to long-term difficulties, and whether you notice “There’s condensation in my watch!” or just need to know how to get water out of a watch after falling in the pool, you should deal with it as soon as possible.