How to Repair a Wristwatch

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How to Repair a Wristwatch

A wristwatch is a finely tuned piece of equipment, even if it is fairly small. Mechanical wristwatches contain a number of intricate gears and springs that need to be calibrated perfectly in order for the wristwatch to work. Due to the complex nature of the average wristwatch, when they do break down, or need even minor repairs, most people are tempted to either throw them away, or take them to an expensive watch repair person. The truth is that wristwatch repair, at least for minor issues, can be accomplished by anyone as long as they have the right tools and know-how.

Many of these tools are available on eBay, saving buyers a trip to a specialty store or jeweller. For the most part, wristwatch repair consists of replacing various parts of the mechanism which restores the watch to working order. In order to understand how to best repair a wristwatch, it is important to know how to open the watch case, where to find replacement parts, and how to fix other common wristwatch problems. With the proper information, the workings of a wristwatch are not so daunting, and self-repair can only save people money in the long run.

Get the Right Repair Tools

Some basic watch repair can be done with a simple screwdriver, but the truth is that many watches contain screws that are so small and intricate, that they cannot be removed easily without being stripped and ruined. The solution to this problem is to get a set of professional watchmaker's screwdrivers.. These usually come in a set that contains six or more screwdrivers of various sizes. At times they are part of a larger repair kit.. These screwdrivers make it possible for anyone to remove tiny watch screws without stripping them. A pair of tweezers also makes it possible to remove and pick up tiny pieces, such as screws, without getting them dirty or losing them.

Visual Tools

Along with the screwdrivers, it is often helpful to acquire two other items. The first is a tray where the small part of a watch, as well as the screws, can be placed during the repair process. Many watchmakers use a small plastic tray not unlike a petri dish, which is deep enough to keep anything from getting lost. Another helpful item is a magnifying glass, which can make it easier to see small watch parts. Professionals use what is known as a 'loupe&', which is a special ground lens that can be worn over an eye that does not require the use of hands to operate. There are also special visors that contain lenses to magnify vision that can be quite helpful as well.

Opening a Watch Case

The first step in performing any kind of wristwatch repairs, is to open the back of the watch case. This, however, can be quite difficult without the proper knowledge of the inner workings of a wristwatch. There are three different kinds of watch cases, each capable of being opened in a different way. The first two ways are fairly straightforward. The first involves a watch case closed with four screws that can be easily opened with the right screwdriver. The second kind of watch case can be opened by prying open the back. With these watch cases, there is a small notch on one side where a screwdriver or knife can be inserted in order to pry the case open.

The final kind of watch case is actually screwed in place with thread. In order to open this kind of watch case, it is usually required to have another kind of tool known as a case wrench, or a Jaxa wrench. This type of wrench makes it easier to twist open the watch case.

Replacing Batteries and Buttons

Some of the most common wristwatch repair tasks involve replacing batteries and buttons. In digital watches that use a battery, the battery is usually visible and quite easy to remove once the watch case is opened. It is important to make certain that any new replacement battery is identical to the battery that has died. New watch batteries are available in most department stores, as well as on eBay.

Digital Watch Buttons

In many cases, the buttons that provide access to digital watch functions can become worn or otherwise unusable. In these situations, replacing the buttons can make it possible to make the watch function normally again. For the most part, it is necessary to special order the buttons and other replacement parts from the manufacturer, but many manufacturers have such parts on hand. Old, worn buttons can be removed by lifting them up and unscrewing them if necessary, and replacements can be snapped in place or screwed down depending on the wristwatch.

Fixing or Replacing a Watch Crystal

The transparent cover over a watch face is what is know as the crystal. The crystal is prone to scratching or cracking, and it is therefore one of the pieces of a watch that is most commonly in need of repair. Scratched crystals can, in many cases, have the scratches buffed out by using a special pad used for buffing glass. If the scratches are too deep however, this is not even an option. If the crystal is cracked, repair is not an option, so a replacement might be necessary. Replacing the crystal is an easier task as opposed to fitting other watch parts, because the crystal simply needs to be the proper size. It does not need to be supplied by the manufacturer, and does not even need to be made from the same material as the original. Replacing the crystal usually requires opening the watch case, removing the inner workings of the watch as one piece, and gently taking the crystal out of the front part of the case.

Fixing Broken Watch Hands

The hands of an analogue watch do not usually break, but they can potentially come loose over the course of time, or after a jarring impact. Repairing loose watch hands is somewhat of a delicate matter, but it is not overly complicated. Removing the case is typically the first priority, followed by making sure that any small parts remain in place. For the most part, loose hands can be taken out and then snapped back in place fairly easily. Then, it is necessary to make sure that they do not become dislodged while the case is being put back into place.

Replacing a Watchband

The watchband is the most common part of a wristwatch that needs to be replaced. This is, however, fairly simple and does not require anyone to open the watch case. The watchband is held in place with retractable pins that can easily be released by simply pressing on one end of them with a screwdriver. Then, they can be inserted into the new watchband and replaced.

Oiling a Watch

In many analogue watches, it is common to oil the gears to help them to operate more smoothly. All that is necessary in the average watch is a single drop of oil, placed in the pivot where a gear turns. Each pivot has a small indentation with a bowl shape that is designed to collect oil. The best way to oil a watch is to purchase a small jar, or vial, of watch oil and an oiler. A watch oiler is a thin piece of wire that has a flattened end. The oiler is dipped into the oil and a single drop placed at the pivot. It is important to never get any oil on the watch spring, as this enables it to collect dust and thus stop working properly.

Buying Wristwatch Repair Supplies on eBay

Knowing how to repair a wristwatch is a great way to save money and extend the life of your favourite watch. Many different watch repair supplies are available on eBay, where buyers can find everything they need all in one place. In order to locate the right supplies for your needs, the most efficient way is to enter a term describing each item into the search bar on the eBay home page. This term can be something as simple as 'wristwatch strap&', or something more complex if you are looking for items made by a specific manufacturer, or one with certain qualities in mind.

Read Item Descriptions

It is always important to fully read all product descriptions in order to know everything there is to know about the items in question. In the case of watch repair tools, it is helpful to know what size they are, and if they are designed to be used with certain watches. Since all watches are not made equally, this can have a major impact on a purchase. Seller feedback and profile information can also be helpful in making certain that each purchase is satisfying for both parties.


Wristwatch repair is often thought of as something that requires years of schooling, or a long apprenticeship to understand. For elaborate, complicated watches, this may be the case, but many routine repairs and replacements can be done by the average person. The first step toward being able to repair a wristwatch is to find the right tools. These can be invaluable, and it should be noted that tools designated for watches are designed that way for a reason. Proper tools include screwdrivers, tweezers, a place to keep tiny parts from getting lost, and a visual aid to magnify these small parts. Some watches may need a special wrench in order for users to open the watch case.

Common elements of a wristwatch that needs repair often include the crystal, the watch hands, the watchband, and the buttons. These items can usually be replaced by contacting the manufacturer. Opening up the watch case also allows the user to replace the battery and oil the watch, which allows the internal mechanisms to function better. With the right tools and the right knowledge, repairing a watch no longer needs to be a daunting task.

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