Can You Run With a Mechanical Watch? (Dangerous or not?)

Wearing your beloved watch is what we all want to do. However, what none of us want is to damage the watch. Mechanical (both manual and automatic wound) watches tend to get a reputation for being fragile. However, I ‘m here to show you otherwise.

Running with a mechanical watch is perfectly safe. The watch is made for the modest shocks generated by being active. Very exclusive watches might be unsuitable for being active. Running with a mechanical watch can be uncomfortable for the wrist, as they tend to be heavy.

The innovation in mechanical watches has been developed for durability for many years. The most basic movements have a lot of small things that make them very durable.

Can I run With my Mechanical Watch?

Before the mobile phone and the quartz watches, people only had mechanical watches, there was no alternative.

Before the digital and electronic devices, people still needed to view the clock. They did so by having mechanical watches. This means that both paper traders, railroad workers, industrial workers, or any other hard labor workers wore mechanical watches.

Running with a mechanical watch is safe. Mechanical watches have been worn in stressful situations such as war and heavy labor for centuries. Mechanical watches are fragile towards big repeatable shocks. However, running with a watch is safe.

While there is many ways to kill mechanical watches, running isn’t one of them. As a matter of fact, mechanical watches is quite robust and durable.

Normally when running with a watch, it’s a fitness watch made of plastic with sensors that have no real weight to it. Using such a watch when running is smart because you can track your progress and not be uncomfortable.

However, mechanical watches tend to be heavier than fitness watches, even on rubber straps. Therefore, it can feel very uncomfortable to run with a mechanical watch if you have been using a fitness watch before.

Fitness watch
Fitness watch

In addition, mechanical watches don’t track your progress. So there is really no logical reason for wearing a mechanical watch during a run. Quartz watches are quite durable, which I one of its benefits. Also, quartz watches are cheap (I have a full post about the quartz watches vs. automatic watches HERE).

Another important aspect to remember is that mechanical watches are typically made of metal, whereas fitness watches is made of plastics. This applied both to the case and bracelet/strap of the watch.

One of the reasons metal watches are not advised near water is because people forget to clean their watches, which could inevitably start rusting the watches.

However, the fitness watches made of plastics will never rust. Therefore, sweat, rain, and the humidity doesn’t mean that much to a fitness watch.

Solders have worn mechanical watches since they were invented. Innovation never stops. Innovation only improves. That also means that the watches’ durability will be better with time.

You should be careful if you are the owner of a very high-end luxury watch. Watches with diamonds, miniature decoration, or delicate movements could be fragile to the small repeatable shocks that occur when running.

Although I doubt that you would want to run with such a luxurious watch, you probably shouldn’t do it. There is very little to be gained and a lot to be lost.

Whether you want to risk your Jacob & Co. type of watch to a couple of hundred thousand dollars for a quick compliment, it seems like a risk not worth the reward if you ask me.

Differences Between Running With a Manual or Automatic Watch?

When speaking of mechanical watches, you have two types: manual and automatic wound watches. The manual watches are wound by turning the crown, whereas the automatic is wound by wearing the watch.

There is no difference in running with a manual or automatic mechanical watch. There is no harm of running with a manual or automatic watch. The only thing to be aware of is big repeatable shocks, which rarely occurs during a run.

The only real difference between the two types of mechanical watches is a rotor that swings with gravity (movement of the wrist). The rotor is connected with cogs that wind the mainspring automatically rather than manually.

Personal Experience Being Active With Mechanical Watches

I own 2 watches that I have worn in many different situations that is on par with running or maybe even worse. One of the watches is a white dial classic watch. The other watch is a blue dial sports watch with a high water resistance rating.

Certina DS-1 ref: C006.407.16.031.00
Certina DS-1 reference: C006.407.16.031.00
Omega seamster omega Seamaster ref: 2531.80.00
Omega Seamster reference: 2531.80.00

Before owning the sports watch, I was wearing the white dial dress watch on all occasions, with no exceptions. I have used the watch outdoor and at formal gatherings.

However, after getting the blue dial sports watch, I have used that for most occasions. Which means both watches have been through harsh environments.

What I have learned by wearing my watches when during manual labor and hunting is that mechanical watches are very durable. You shouldn’t fear running with a watch, since the impact is not big enough to damage the watch.

One of my hobbies is being outdoors hunting. This means walking great distances and walking through rough terrain. Then I also help friends and family do different things.

A good example is that every year the entire family gathers to assemble a 20 to 30-meter bathing bridge, which will be in the water during the summer and disassembled in winter again to be stored until next season.

As a start, hunting is an activity that requires walking in the rain, mud, close vegetation, etc.

To compare this to running, it’s not unusual that you can’t see what you are stepping on, meaning you somethings have these heart attack moments like when you think there is another step on the stairs. My point is, it’s not unusual to have a physical drop, similar to the motion made when running.

Secondly, is the assembling of a bridge. When the bridges’ subsections are moved from their storage location to the frame’s positions, the subsections have to be forced in place. Forcing them into place often means hamming the subsections with the palm of our hands = bigger shocks than running.

Can I Wear my Watch in the Pool

Going to the pool is something some people have the luxury of every day and, for some, only on vacation.

Regardless, watches are generally advised to be kept away from water, especially pools. The reason comes down to the watch’s water-resistance and the dissolvents in the pools to kill germs.

Wearing a watch to a pool is not advisable due to the chemicals used to kill germs. However, watches with water-resistance of above 200 meters can be used in pools if cleaned properly afterward.

Using a regular water resistance chart can say something about what is recommended for the watch you are wearing.

Water Resistance Chart for Watches>30 meters
50 Meters
100 Meters
10 BAR
200 Meters
20 BAR
<300 Meters
30 BAR
Splashes/Washing hands/Rain
Light swimming/Poolside/Beachfront
Water activities (Jetski, water skiing, pool parties, etc.)
Amateur diving
Serious diving (Scuba diving)
Water Resistance Chart

The reason watches are advised to be kept away from pools if they have less than 200 meters of water resistance is due to the chemicals, and not their actual water resistance.

When chemicals get in contact with your watch, the gaskets which make the watch water resistant will slowly start to degrade. The gaskets are covered in oil to reject the water at the vulnerable points of the watch.

However, with the chemicals used in pools, the oils and gaskets can be degraded, making the water-resistance non-existing.

Therefore, the extra protection used to make the watch water-resistant to 200 meters just gives that extra security when you have to rinse the watch after taking it to the pool.

Here you would typically use some kind of soft brush to make sure you get into all the spots where the water might not be able to flush the chemicals away without a little help.

Can I Wear my Watch to the Beach?

The short answer is maybe. When you are on a beach, you will find 2 things: sand and saltwater. Much like the question of whether you can wear your watch to the pool, you need to consider the water-resistance of your watch.

However, on a beach, you will find sand as well. Whether the watch is a diving watch, dress watch, sport watch, or another type of watch, you need to understand the risk.

Wearing a watch to the beach is fine if the water resistance is respected. Additionally, sand and grit might scratch the watch case or bracelet. Watches with rotational bezels could end up having sand between the bezel and the watch case.

Personally, I have never had any sand or other debris in between my bezel and watch case. Even though my watch is over 20 years old, it’s pristine, and saltwater and sand have never been an issue.

If you don’t have a mechanical watch, but rather a quartz watch with solar functions, it might be an excellent opportunity to charge the watch.

Jonas Henriksen

AllInWatches is founded by Jonas, who has a great interest in mechanical watches. All aspects of manual and automatic (mechanical) watches is a big interest and have been a passion since 2015, where the first automatic watch was purchased. Seeing the transparent case back and discovering the heritage of watchmaking piqued an interest in horology.

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