We investigated the dynamics of nanometer thin water films at controlled ambient humidity adsorbed onto two atomically smooth mica sheets upon rapidly bringing the surfaces into contact. Using a surface forces apparatus (SFA) in imaging mode, we found that the water films break up into a distribution of drops with a typical thickness of a few nanometers and a characteristic lateral size and spacing of several micrometers. Whereas the characteristic length is found to be independent of the ambient humidity, the characteristic time of the breakup decreases from 1 to 0.01 s with increasing humidity. The existence of characteristic length and time scales shows that this breakup is controlled by an instability rather than a conventional nucleation and growth mechanism for SFA experiments. These findings cannot be explained by a dispersion-driven instability mechanism. In contrast, a model involving the elastic energies for the deformation of both the mica sheets and the underlying glue layer correctly reproduces the scaling of the characteristic length and time with humidity.