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Cant Get The Watch Case Back On Your Watch You Need A Watch Press

This happens all the time…

People snap the back off their watch to change their battery (buy cheap watch batteries here)… And can’t get it back on.

As much as they try, push, press, pound, squeeze… it won’t snap back into place.

This is because it needs to be sealed with a watch press.

A watch press is a manual vise that’s easy to use, but you can also do great damage to the watch as well (you could snap the bezel, break the band, crack the crystal…) Either way, it’s the only tool to use. Experience and practice helps, but with this handy guide, you should do just fine.

Step by step watch press use:

Watch presses work with flat, snap-on case backs. Like this:

Watch Case Back

Locate the little lip that sticks out from the case back…

Watch Case Back Lip

You’ll need a watch case remover or knife blade for that…

Watch Case Back Opener

Angle the blade into the lip and pop it off in one quick upward motion.

Pry Watch Case Back Lip Up

Chances are, you’ve already done that, changed the battery, and are now stuck. No worries… But before we snap the lid back on, make sure it’s working first. I can’t tell you how many times an employee sealed the back on only to find the battery was dead, or the watch needed to be jump started. :( So check it before you advance.

Check To Make Sure Watch Is Ticking

The trick to using a watch press is…

To pick the right size dies. The dies (little plastic discs) come in all different sizes (for all different sized watches, mens and ladies).

Watch Press And Dies

You’ll need to sort through them and pick the size that fits your watch the best. They aren’t perfect, but you don’t need perfection, you need support and protection.

Pick a die that is almost as big as the case back (dies have two sizes (and they are two-sided), so you’ll have plenty of choices). You don’t want one that’s too small, for it’ll bend and warp the back. You also don’t want one that’s too big, for it’ll squish the rim and make it useless. The image below shows the proper sized die for this watch…

Fit Watch Press Dies To Case Back

Once you find that die, screw it into the base of the watch press.

Screw Watch Case Die Into Press Base

Now flip the watch over and look at the crystal. You’ll need to choose a die that’s slightly larger than the crystal. Otherwise, the pressure you’ll create will crack the crystal. The die needs to be bigger and lay upon the bezel itself (just make sure it’s not too big, you don’t want it pushing down on the stem).

Fit Watch Press Die Over Watch Crystal

Screw that into the top of the press:

Watch Press Ready To Seal

Now, before you slap your watch in and squeeze, make sure the case lid is aligned with the stem. Most have a notch in the lid that needs to go over the stem so it doesn’t break it off.

Line Up Watch Case Notch With Stem

Hold the lid into place with your fingers while you insert the watch into the press (crystal up)… and most jewelers do lay a cloth over the watch crystal and bezel so they don’t get scratched up in the process. I won’t so you can see how it fits in the device). Hang the press over the edge of a table for the band to drop down…

Position Watch Into Watch Press

Align the watch (make sure it’s flat and not tilted) so that it fits with the alignment of the dies. Press the handle down slightly to hold the watch and lid into place while you align it. Once it’s perfect, get a good grip on the handle and press down gently, increasing strength as you do so.

Press Down Handle On Watch Press Until Back Snaps Onto Wrist Watch

Most case backs seal back into place with an audible snap. If it doesn’t snap on, adjust the watch, and check the size of the dies. Sometimes you’ll need to change them. Some watches snap on easily and quickly, others take time and effort (especially if the watch has a gasket and is water resistant).

Once finished, check the case back to make sure it’s flush with your watch.

Check To Make Sure Watch Case Back Is Flush And Secure

That’s it. Watch presses are simple tools that work well and only take seconds to use.

I keep a watch press at home for changing my own batteries (you can get them on Amazon pretty cheap):

So get yourself a watch press and whatever you do, don’t crack under pressure.

Cheers! :)

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  1. Donna Berry // July 15, 2020 at 1:31 pm // Reply

    I have a watch that the local jeweler can’t get the back off to replace the battery, hopefully, you can help me. It’s an older Gucci watch, it used to be a very popular watch, the face is black, no numbers on the face but the Gucci name and their logo. the band is screwed together and the back has the logo on it the sides of the watch are black and gold. If anyone can help me I would be so thankful. I haven’t worn it several years that reason. Thank you so much.

  2. Kimberley McMains // July 31, 2021 at 9:20 pm // Reply

    I have been trying for months to put the back on my pocket watch. It has a raised design and I’m trying not to damage it. There must be a way.

    • Hello. It could be a couple of things; 1) the back is warped, 2) the clasp is worn or damaged, 3) the lid is bent or askew. I would take it to a jeweler or a watchmaker and have them look at it. It’s probably a simple fix, with the right tools. :) -Richard

  3. Ok so what If u can’t get a press? Is there anymore little secrets or tools that could be used?

  4. Kathleen // May 2, 2022 at 2:03 pm // Reply

    Why on earth would someone create a watch where a battery cannot be changed at home? This is ridiculous. It’s cheaper to buy a new watch.

  5. My husband has a timex watch that he dropped and the back popped off and he can’t get the back, back on.

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