Wet/Chemical Work VS Leather Watchstrap- any hope?
April 11, 2016 9:09 PM   Subscribe

I wear a plastic watch. I'd like to wear a leather banded watch. I am elbow deep in water and chemicals all day. Am I crazy?

I'm more concerned about my skin, honestly, than I am about the watch. If I am wearing a natural band, I assume it can absorb the chemicals I work with and hold them to my skin all day long. Right?

I currently wear a pretty cheap but functional plastic watch, and I'd love to wear a real...uh, adult watch. This seems not to be an option, as I am at least thrice weekly arm deep in 11.5 ph chems, or 2.8 ph chems.

I'm crazy to try...right?

(I'm fantasizing that someone will come along and tell me that the properties of tanned leather make it more tolerant to chemicals, or that if oiled well enough, the band will withstand absorbtion, or that I actually have robot arms of titanium and I'll be just fine.)

I hate my plastic watch. Cannot use a phone or a metal band as a replacement. Thoughts?

posted by metasav to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total)
Big gloves?
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:19 PM on April 11, 2016

Have you considered a pocket watch instead?
posted by jeather at 9:25 PM on April 11, 2016

This is one of the few cases where I'd say: get yourself a pocket watch. Leather bands have relatively limited lifespans in regular use. Wristwatches themselves may or may not be water resistant to a certain depth and pressure, but they are not made to be dipped in vats of chemicals on a regular basis. Vintage pocket watches are generally quite serviceable and functional.
posted by holgate at 9:28 PM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

nthing pocket watch. You can get a vintage pocket watch or one of a few modern ones. Leather isn't meant to withstand repeated dips into a chemical bath.
posted by bedhead at 9:31 PM on April 11, 2016

Is a nylon band an option? NATO watch straps are pretty swell looking (and sort of "in") and are mostly made of nylon. I'd think you can rinse it way easier than leather, and they're not nearly as sweaty as plastic.
posted by piedmont at 10:00 PM on April 11, 2016

I had a leather banded watch and just exposure to day to day weather made it degrade over a couple of years. And yes, once it got wet, it STAYED wet for a long time. But then, the band was easy and relatively cheap to replace.
posted by Diag at 10:06 PM on April 11, 2016

As a 40 y/o basically doomed woman trying to make some attempt to not be single for all time...a pocket watch isn't gonna fly here in my town.

I am totally weird enough. Plastic watch. I accept it.
posted by metasav at 10:08 PM on April 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

Is the metal bands a matter of comfort, work requirements, or something else? Because I work in a lab, and my fossil watch with a metal band has held up quite well. (Still going strong after 4 years of lab exposure; no noticeable wear and tear.) I obviously wear gloves when handling the chemicals, but that's not foolproof, and I also watch my hands frequently when in lab, so I would be concerned about the affect the exposure to water would have on the band. I guess you could take your watch off before washing your hands, but that seems like it would get old very quickly.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:31 PM on April 11, 2016

Nurse's watch, perhaps? Lapel watches are apparently more of a British thing, but that falls more on the female side compared to pocket watches.
posted by holgate at 10:33 PM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

As a lady you could totally get away with a watch necklace, although it may not meet your needs for other reasons, like it's probably not as easy to glance at as a wristwatch.
posted by MsMolly at 10:33 PM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

There is also the lapel watch option. The UK seems to have a better selection, but there are some lovely jewelry-like vintage ones available.
posted by cobaltnine at 10:34 PM on April 11, 2016

Um, have 2 watches? One for work, one for not-work.
posted by yesster at 11:51 PM on April 11, 2016 [5 favorites]

my grown-up watch, which several people have admired, has a black silicon rubber strap. i'm having a hard time trying to visualise how well this would work in a woman's model (it has a steel / chrome case with black face, so looks vaguely "military"), but depending on your style something like that might work.

also, you say "no metal band", but if that's for allergy reasons, have you considered titanium? my partner has a seiko (i think) that has a titanium band and case that's feminine and durable.
posted by andrewcooke at 2:44 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

If I had a job that involved putting my hands into terrible things all day long, and I wanted to habitually wear a wristwatch but at the same time I wanted to wear something a little dressier than plastic... well, I think I'd just wear a super-cheap watch at work (Timex easyreads are cheap, look decent, and can have leather bands) and then whatever I wanted to wear outside of that. I would pick something for work wear that's so cheap as to be basically disposable, so that it didn't matter if it got ruined, and if the leather band fell apart then Oh Well.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:36 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Would a Nurses watch that you clip to your clothes or one on a necklace work for you, the necklace ones can be very pretty and ornamental. . You can also get then wwith a built in caribener type that clips to your belt.
posted by wwax at 5:02 AM on April 12, 2016

I wear a plastic watch. ...I am elbow deep in water and chemicals all day. Am I crazy?

I am at least thrice weekly arm deep in 11.5 ph chems, or 2.8 ph chems

That's not just a harsh detergent, that stuff that needs actual protection like gloves, especially that high a pH. Even latex works fine for acid/base solutions, but you really, really should be wearing something.

We don't allow people to wear any jewelry on their hands or wrists in chem labs for exactly this reason. Any band or loop will hold the liquids against your skin for long periods and cause damage. I don't know what rules you work under, but we'd never get away without first taking off all jewelry, including watches, when working, and secondly providing gloves long enough and durable enough that skin contact doesn't happen regularly.

It sounds like even dish gloves might work in your case. If not, better gloves are available from industrial suppliers for not a lot more money---gloves are quite cheap. If you need to see time during work, buy a wall clock (which is what we do in my lab too).

But bare skin and regular caustic exposure, that IS nuts in my opinion. Take precautions and wear gloves. Then you can buy whichever watch you want for wear outside of work.
posted by bonehead at 6:32 AM on April 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

Have you looked at silicone watch bands? I have one on my watch right now, and it's just kind of nondescript but good looking. Doesn't really look like rubber, but doesn't really look like leather either.
posted by gregr at 6:39 AM on April 12, 2016

As a 40 y/o basically doomed woman trying to make some attempt to not be single for all time...a pocket watch isn't gonna fly here in my town.

As a single guy who would probably be within your age-appropriate dating range . . . . your watch style is not gonna be the make-or-break detail that determines whether or not I'd want to date you. Might not even notice you're wearing a watch until the third or fourth date. Forest, trees, etc.

If a pocket watch is genuinely too weird, do like everyone (especially bonehead) suggests; get a nice watch and take it off and wear gloves when you have to work with nasty chemicals.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:11 AM on April 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Another for off-wrist time-keeping. I keep reading that the younger generations(s) don't wear watches because they can get the time from the cell phones.

When I wore a watch with a leather strap, I got about a year of wear before replacement. I got about the same with run-of-the-mill plastic (resin) bands. That's for an office worker and zero caustic chemicals.
posted by SemiSalt at 8:22 AM on April 12, 2016

You'll want to wear personal protective equipment when working with acid/bases. You can get nitrile gloves with long collars/sleeves that will cover up the watch.

An alternative is to remove the watch prior to working with hazardous materials, and put it back on after decontaminating yourself?

/wet biolab and BSL2+ experience
posted by porpoise at 10:29 AM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I... assume you're wearing gloves when dealing with these chemicals, right? Because if not, that's kind of insane. So I'm working off the assumption that you're not insane and wearing protection, and you're asking this to deal with the just-in-case-the-gloves-fail case. I'd have to put my vote firmly in the camp of having 2 watches, one plastic that I don't care what happens to and one fancy one that is worn when not dealing with chemicals.
posted by Aleyn at 9:49 PM on April 12, 2016

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