Watch Battery Service

It’s easy to assume, with the plethora of youtube videos and online articles, that it’s easy to change your watch battery yourself.   That’s only partially true.  There are many pitfalls to attempting to do what a proper watchmaker does regularly.   Some things are obvious and some aren’t.  In this entry I’ll try and explain some of the possible problems that can occur when you are changing your battery.  Quartz watches are very reliable but they are also low powered devices. The smallest amount of bodily oil from fingers, static electricity, dust, moisture, shards from metal, and other contamination can permanently stop them from functioning.  A trained watchmaker is aware and takes precaution to avoid and mitigate the most common types of problems that can occur. 

Opening a watch case

Some watches are “snap back” watches and are opened by prying with a watch case knife. Many “snap back” watches have a handy “pry point” (a small indent or lip) to use when prying off the back. Some watches don’t have a “pry point”.   Even if your watch has a “pry point” you may find, without proper knowledge or equipment, that you may damage or mar your fine watch.  Some watches may have indents around the outer edge of the caseback or on the caseback itself so that a brand or model specific wrench must be used to unscrew the back from the body of your watch for servicing.  Without the proper wrench you may damage the caseback.  If your watch is ceramic or color coated you can scratch that coating or deform the back.  If that isn’t enough to deter the amateur there are even other watches that can only be serviced by removing the crystal.  The resulting damage ,that service by an untrained and inexperienced person, may render your watch unclosable, make it susceptible to dust and moisture, and can damage electronics (especially coils and modules). In addition the introduction of rust and/or dust may permanently damage the delicate mechanics of your watch movement, the inside of your case, the dial, hands, date rings, crystals, gaskets and many other parts of your watch. One last caution when it comes to quartz (battery powered) watches.  Batteries have a finite lifespan.  Yes, you can stop some watches by pulling the stem out but that’s a dangerous game.  When the watch is stopped and the stem is out dust and water can enter the watch through the open tube.  Batteries can also run dead and even “salt” which means the acid begins to leak and release acid and acid gas.  When you allow the watch to continuously run the small amount of lubrication is allowed to continually circulate and you know when the battery has exhausted its charge.  Damages like these can lead to very expensive repair costs and may even ruin your watch. 

As a watchmaker I’ve studied various watch movements and had many years of experience repairing and restoring timepieces. I’ve learned how to properly service your favorite watches so that they will continue to serve you for a long time.  

As soon as you notice that your battery has run out you should take your timepiece to an expert watchmaker to have it serviced.  It may cost a bit more to have your watchmaker change the battery but it will save you a ton of money in repairs and will result in years of pleasure wearing your watch.