Article By: Logan Hannen

What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re taking a look at wearing an automatic watch to the gym.

I’m just going to go ahead and predict the piece you’re thinking about when I say the phrase “gym watch”. Ready?

Casio G-Shock GW-M5610
Source: Seiya Japan

BOOM! (Watchfam). So did I get it? Probably close, right? Traditionally, the watch you wear to the gym or working out in general is likely to be something like the G-Shock pictured above – it’s tough, can take a beating, and is also light enough to not weigh you down or in any way compromise your balance while doing different exercises. Nowadays, you might even go for something like a Fitbit, an activity tracker that can send important work out data to your phone so you can monitor your progress in attaining fitness goals. But I’m sure for most of us geeks, we wouldn’t automatically (pun intended) jump to a mechanical watch.

Let’s assume that you’re not talking about your 7mm thick Patek Philippe Calatrava on its factory leather strap in yellow gold (because that would be the literal worst gym watch on the planet). Let’s bring our focus in on mechanical, steel sports watches, something like a Submariner or a Speedmaster. These, after all, are meant to take a beating, right?

Well, yes, and to be entirely honest, you probably could work out with them on your wrist, but there are some things you need to consider before doing so. First and foremost, don’t work out with a leather strap on your watch. Water is notoriously bad for leather, and sweat is obviously water based. Add to that the salt component of sweat, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Leather strap with water marks
Source: Colourlock Leather Repair

As you can see, leather straps that have been exposed to water and sweat for too long can stain, and their once elegant appearance can be totally ruined much faster than you might expect. As an alternative, consider either rubber or a NATO strap, two options designed to get wet. You can also use a metal bracelet as well, just be sure to wipe it down with a cleaning cloth after you’ve finished working out. The same goes for the case, as sweat is corrosive by nature and, while not really as much of a problem now as it used to be (thanks to most watches using 316L surgical grade steel), it can still cake up and get super nasty. Not good.

Something else to consider as well is scratching. When your watch makes contact with the barbells, weights, and other equipment, you run a pretty high risk of the case, bezel, and crystal all being scratched to hell which for some people is no big deal, but for others is a huge issue.

Beaten up Orient Mako
Source: Yeoman’s Weblog

This risk, to me, is more than enough to justify not wearing your watch to the gym. But even at that, we haven’t gotten to the root of the question – will it damage your automatic movement? In most instances, the kinds of damage that might be seen by an automatic watch while working out are pretty similar to bumps and drops, which are definite risks for damaging the movement. Any kind of rough, sudden impact can pose a threat to the movement, especially when you consider how small and fragile a lot of the different components really are. So whether this is being slammed into a door jam, or having a ten pound weight dropped on it, the outcome will be less than pleasant in either case.

Ultimately, geeks, you should do whatever you want because, after all, it’s your watch. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it, though, because of the reasons we outlined above. If you do decide to do it, though, just be sure not to wear your dress watch – a scratched, bruised, and cracked dress watch is no way to keep it classy, watchfam.