Water infiltrations into the watch: tips in case of emergency

What to do in case of steamed glass, clear sign of humidity, or worst, in case of water inside the watch?

If there is, near there, a watch shop or service center, the solution is giving immediately the “watered” watch to a specialist, who will disassemble and treat it with substances that avoid oxidation (known as rust).

If, instead, it is not possible asking for the assistance of an expert, the problem is more serious… Below there are the (few and risky) possibilities at your disposal.


A detail of the movement of the Lange 42.500 pocket watch, dating back to the beginning of last century, found after years of non-use. Watchmakers found it rusty, incomplete and partially damaged, also due to humidity. To learn more, read our guide

What to do

If the back case of the watch is closed with screws and if you have a deoxidizing aerosol can and a suitable screwdriver, the best thing to do is try to remove the back case, even running the risk of damaging the little screws, which can be easily replaced with a little expense, compared to the value of the mechanism. If you do not have any deoxidizing liquid, you can also use pure alcohol, which, thanks to its hygroscopic properties, eliminates water remains and avoids more serious damages.


Do I need to break the glass?

If you do not have a suitable screwdriver or if the watch has a screw back case, the only solution is breaking the glass. This is an extremely stressing solution and not always advisable, especially if the glass is made of a thick and expensive synthetic sapphire. To do so, put the watch on a level surface, place a nail in the middle of the glass and hit it, as gently as possible, with a not too heavy hammer. Consider that, in this way, the risk of damaging also hands and dial is high, provided that they are not already damaged by water. A violent breaking could produce very small fragments that, going inside the toothed wheels, may worsen the problem.


Think about the value of the watch

A last but essential consideration is about the watch value: there is no need of worry about finding the solution if your watch is a Swatch, costing just a few euros, or, even if it is an expensive model, its movement can be replaced with an affordable expense.

In case of a great value watch, supplied with a movement of the same level, consider that a failed action can cause, more or less in a couple of days, a serious oxidation, and replacing the whole mechanism will be the only solution, with an expense which can easily exceed 2,500 euros.


Contacting assistance is the best solution you can do: any intervention on the watch can in fact further damage the mechanisms, thus leading to an increase in repair costs.

If you believe that your watch may risk water infiltration, perhaps during water sports or frequent boat trips, we suggest you read our advice on the types of diving watches.

Rolex Submariner
Tags: Watch Care