Golfing With a Mechanical Watch – Harmful or Safe?

The topic of shock resistance and sports is a controversial topic for watch enthusiasts. Most watch enthusiasts could never dream of wearing a mechanical watch while being active. In contrast, others wear their watch every day regardless of what they are doing.

So can mechanical watches be worn when golfing or doing other sports?

Playing golf with a modern mechanical watch is safe. However, don’t play golf with vintage timepieces. Modern mechanical watches are equipped with shock resistance technology, which makes sports such as golf no problem for a mechanical watch.

Shock resistance is the keyword in this discussion. In the older days where the shock resistance wasn’t good, a watch could easily be broken by a smaller impact. However, with today’s shock resistance, there is little problems associated with being active.

The real killer is dropping the watch and not being active while wearing the watch. As a matter of fact, Rolex states that playing sports wearing their watches will cause no problems.

Can You Play Golf With a Mechanical Watch?

Can You Wear a Watch While Golfing?

While it’s a controversial topic whether watches can be worn during golf sessions, the myths and rumors associated with watches and golfing come from the older days.

Modern watches are generally safe to golf with. In contrast, antique/vintage watches are more fragile and could break if worn while golfing.

Wearing a watch while playing golf is not harmful to the watch unless it’s a vintage model. Quartz watches consists of fewer components and highly unlikely to be damaged from shocks. Mechanical watches can be easier affected. Make sure you wear a sports watch when being active.

The fear of wearing mechanical watches in golf sessions comes from a time when the movements were secured poorly to the watch’s case. At the same time, the components were locked in place with no shock absorbers.

When you take a swing with a golf club, as a big and actually high-speed acceleration, the gulf ball’s impact will make a shock that transfers through the gulf club, through your arm, and into the wrist.

Although the watches most likely won’t break, it can feel awkward to swing the golf club when wearing a solid stainless steel watch.

A good thing to keep in mind is to avoid leather straps as sweat will destroy the leather. The perspiration will dry out the leather.

Some professional golfers wear watches during tournaments. For example, Bubba Watson is wearing a highly complex tourbillon by Richard Mille.

Phil Mickelson has been seen wearing a platinum Rolex DayDate. Rory McIlroy has been seen wearing an Omega Seamaster AquaTerra. Danny Willett has been seen wearing an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph.

This is just to mention a few of the big golfers. Tiger Woods has also been seen wearing different watches. Many watch enthusiasts wouldn’t wear any of the above watches while golfing as they think it would damage the watch.

However, imagine the reputation watch brands would get if their watches failed during golfing, promoted through professional golfers. Now that wouldn’t look good, would it?

This is just like the myth that you can’t run wearing a mechnaical watch. However, this is not true either. Wearing a mechanical watch while running is not harmful to your watch.

Golfing With a Mechanical Watch

The reason for concern about wearing a mechanical watch is the shock that occurs in the pivot of the balance staff. The small pivots can measure down to 0.07 mm (0,0047 inches).

Therefore, you can imagine that bending or breaking such a thin piece of metal is relatively easy.

Incabloc (reference Novodiac) shock protection
Incabloc (reference Novodiac) shock protection

To make the understanding simple, I will speak in the metaphor of punching a wall.

Vintage/antique watches that didn’t/don’t have shock-absorbing features will respond to a shock like you would punching at full force directly into a brick wall. Something most likely break.

In modern mechanical watches, the shock-absorbent system will function as a cushion between your fist and the wall. The shock-absorbing system will gradually slow down the shock’s effect, which will make the impact so weak it won’t damage the balance staff/pivots.

In an investigation I did, shock damages were investigated to find out when watches actually die from shocks. The research concludes that watches don’t die from everyday activities (such as golf or other sports), but rather free-falling drops.

Furthermore, you will get a long way by maintaining your mechanical watch.

Golfing With a Quartz Watch

Now golfing with a quartz watch is something very different from a mechanical watch. In the watch world, you buy a quartz watch if you’re going to a be in tough environments that you don’t want your mechanical watch to go through.

This mentality comes from the reputation that quartz watches have collected over the years. And to be perfectly honest, they are very durable.

If you are a little sensitive with your mechanical watches, getting a quartz watch is the perfect replacement to be 100% sure that your mechanical watch won’t be damaged.

Now the reason that quartz watches is somewhat tougher than mechanical watches is due to the lower component count and the general build of the watch.

Quartz watches consists of a PCB, battery, a little motor, a quartz crystal, and the few components that make the hands move.

The main difference between the mechanical watch and the quartz watch is that the mainspring drives mechanical watches. The mainspring is loading energy to the balance wheel, which controls the pace of the movement.

In contrast, the quartz watch is controlled by the battery, which throws energy through a quartz crystal that vibrates at a stable frequency. The frequency is picked up by a stepping motor, which converts the high frequency into ticks (once per second), which is why quartz watches is ticking one per second.

Can You Play Golf in a Rolex?

The brand of Rolex has, for many years, been known as the tool watch brand. However, in recent years, Rolex watches’ price has skyrocketed. Therefore, people naturally wonder whether Rolex is still a tool watch or a luxury brand.

You can risk-free play golf and other sports with your Rolex watch. Rolex watches are made durable and able to cope with tough environments. It’s a part of Rolex’s brand to make tough tool watches that can handle anything.

On Rolex’s own FAQ section, they mention the following:

Can I wear my Rolex while I play golf or tennis?” / “Can I go to the gym with my Rolex?”

“You can play sports with a Rolex on your wrist as the Rolex Oyster case provides the watch movement with optimal protection against shocks. All Rolex wristwatches are waterproof to depths of at least 100 metres for Oyster Perpetual models, and 50 metres for Cellini models.”

Now, I’m no expert on the legal of marketing and guarantees. Still, if Rolex states that playing golf and other sports is not harmful to your Rolex, I would imagine that they would repair any damage that might occur from golfing. However, I do think you have to be within the guarantee/service interval period.

Personally, I wouldn’t worry about wearing a watch for golfing for sports alike. I own an Omega Seamaster from 1993 to 2006, hence considered a vintage piece.

This Omega is on my wrist 24/7 everywhere I go. My argument is that if Omega watches can stand the daily wear of my life, a Rolex will manage just fine as well.

Can You Wear an Apple Watch While Playing Golf?

A question that I see around is people wondering if their Apple watch can be used while golfing. With the big mystery there is on mechanical and quartz watches concerning golfing, I understand the confusion.

Playing golf with an Apple watch is just fine. There is apps made explicitly for golfing with an Apple watch, e.g., golf GPS apps. The Apple watch will not take any damage from golfing.

Now golf watches is not something new. There are fitness watches explicitly made for golfing. Garmin has been doing it for years. Apple watches can function just like these fitness watches if the correct apps is installed.

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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