Do It Yourself: How To Repair Your Watch At Home (And What You Can't Do)

This article discusses what repairs a person can do on a watch, and what should not be attempted at home.

Most people wear watches. Even in the era of personal digital assistants and cellular phones that have clocks, most people wear a watch. However, eventually, that watch is going to stop, or will lose time, or may even get dropped. What can the average person do at home to repair a watch? The answer is: not much. The main action he or she can take is prevention.

The first thing a person must determine before attempting watch repair is: will the cost of the repair, even at home, be more than buying a similar watch? If the answer is "yes," go ahead and buy the watch. If the battery can be replaced, watch batteries are often inexpensive, and most people can replace one. They should note before they take the old battery out, though, how it is oriented and should replace the new one in the watch in the same orientation. If going to the store to buy a replacement battery, the person should take the old one with him to match it up with a new one. Watch batteries have numbers that must match.

Some watches "" especially spring-wound ones "" will have an easily-removed back. If this is the case, then a person can usually replace something simple like the watch's crystal. If the watch is digital and the LCD is damaged, buy a watch. It cannot be repaired, even by a professional.


Most people can also manage to replace a watch band. It is usually a simple matter of taking the watch to where bands are sold, buying the correct width, and then struggling with the spring-loaded holding pins when attempting to replace them.

Watches with quartz movements, obviously, cannot be repaired except by professionals. They have the tools and replacement parts necessary to do the repairs.

Some manufacturers make their watches so that only professionals can even remove the backs. A special tool is required both to remove it and "lock" it back into place. These watches should be taken to a jeweler for repair, and must have that done, even to replace a battery.

The trouble with home repair for watches is that most people do not have the tiny tools necessary to perform the repairs, let alone the knowledge to do it. Even spring-wound watches must be repaired by someone who knows the inner workings of a watch. And, if a mainspring or hairspring is broken, the watch may be irreparable.

Prevention, then, is the best home "repair" someone can make. Prevention includes not getting the watch wet, having it cleaned regularly, not wearing it when it might be knocked or banged against something ""common sense rules that apply to most fine jewelry. A person can even clean metal watch bands by putting just a couple of drops of ammonia in a cup of water and immersing just the band in the solution. This will clean most metal watch bands quickly. Don't leave the band in the solution for long "" no more than 30 seconds or so. Then, immerse just the band in clean water and dry with a paper napkin or absorbent cloth before wearing.

When a watch stops, the best thing that anyone can do is either replace it if it is cheap, or take it to a reputable jeweler. Otherwise, a person may lose a favorite piece of jewelry through his own blunders.

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