Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Replace a Watch Battery

At Handiwork Jewelry, replacing a battery costs $6 and takes 5 to 10 minutes. Some people, however, may be more adventurous and want to learn how to do this at home. If you feel like you are going to damage the watch, however, it is best to simply take it to your local jeweler. Cheap or non-sentimental watches would be okay to experiment on. While we mostly take a look at the front of a watch, the real action starts at the back of the watch.

Let's start with this lady's, stainless steel Fossil watch.

First, place the watch on a soft towel so the crystal does not scratch.
When we look at the back of this watch, we see there is a small lip.
Second, if you are at home, take a thin, blunt edge to the lip and with some pressure, lift the case back off. Jewelers usually use a case knife, which is made for this purpose. You will hear a small "pop" as the case back releases.

Once the case back is off, you will see where the small round battery is located. This particular lady's watch has two batteries. Each battery is held in place by a small lever. Sometimes a small spring keeps the battery in place.

After pushing the lever aside, you can easily remove the watch battery with your fingers or a small tweezer. Once the battery is removed, look for rust or dirt as other possible causes of the watch stopping. Rust is a sure sign that water is the culprit. You will probably need to visit a watchmaker or contact the watch company to replace the entire watch movement.

Once you remove the battery, you will see a three digit number or a a seven digit alphanumeric code. In this case, the battery number is 319 (or SR527SW) and it was made by Energizer. You will also notice a positive (+) sign on the battery. This (+) side should be visible once the battery is replaced.

You can buy batteries from Walgreens, RadioShack, or even online. They usually are sold in packs of five and are quite economical if you can get the case back off.

The last step - replacing the case back - is usually the easiest, but it can also pose some difficulties. If you are having problems pressing the case back onto the watch, try laying the watch face down on a soft towel on a hard surface and pressing with your thumbs till you hear it "snap" into place. If you are truly in a conundrum, take it to your local jeweler where he or she can use a device that clamps the case back into place.

Other watches have different case backs. Some have a small depression, while others have an arrow on the case back showing where to start. Other case backs have small screws at each corner. You will need miniature screwdrivers, similar to the ones used for repairing eyeglasses. Some watches, like a Swiss Army watch, have a more complicated watch case back. You may need a tool that fits into 3 of the 5 notches, like the one pictured here:
You will need to rotate counter-clockwise to screw the case off.
If you want to try this at home with other tools, take a look here.

If your watch doesn't fit in the above category, you may have an automatic watch that does not need a battery! Authentic Rolex watches and Seiko Kinetic watches, for example, will continue running as long as they are worn. After two or three days of no motion, however, they will stop ticking and need to be re-set.

After taking the case back off, you may notice a thin strip of black rubber, also known as a gasket. This is used to prevent water from entering the watch. When you take off the case back, be careful to not break the gasket so it will remain water resistant when you place the case back.

Please feel free to offer suggestions or pose other questions you may have! If you have replaced a watch battery at home by yourself, it would be great to hear your thoughts on how easy or difficult it was for you.

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