WATCH TOOLS AND HOW TO USE THEM
HOW TO USE WATCH TOOLS AND WHAT TOOLS TO BUY
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I LOVE watches. I own tons of them. And it never fails that when I grab one of them, the battery is dead…
Or the time is off (thanks Daylight Savings), or the band is too big or too small…
No, my wrist doesn’t grow or shrink, but it feels like it does. In the winter months my watch always feels Looser and I have to remove a link from my watch. And in the Summer, I have to put that link back in because a tight watch on a sweaty wrist drives me crazy.
So what do I do?
I pull out my watch tool kit…
A watch tool kit has the necessary tools needed to accomplish such easy tasks as removing or adding watch links, removing the back cover of your watch (to change a cell), unscrewing the little screws inside the watch to free the battery. Even taking off the watch band so you can clean it in an ultrasonic cleaner.
It all comes in handy.
With the right tools, fixing your own watch saves you time and money.
The jewelry store across the street from where I live charges $20 for a battery change (they say “That includes the battery” – Well I hope so!)
Instead, you could run to Kroger, pick up a battery for $3.00 and change it yourself… That’s if you have the right tools…
It’s not hard to do. But then again, I’ve been doing it for 30 years… Nothing about these repairs is complicated. Difficult maybe, but not hard to understand once you know how everything works.
So that’s what I’m doing today. I’m showing you all the awesome watch tools you should own, and showing you how to operate them.
Watch case opener:
Nothing works better to pop the back off a watch then a watch case opener. Sure you can use any thin, flat, durable object like a pocket knife or such, but a watch case opener is safer, and you won’t come up short a finger or two.
If your watch back snaps off, like half the watches do, you’ll be able to tell just by looking at the back of the watch. Look around the rim, do you see a little lip sticking up like the one in the photo…
That lip means “I can be popped off.” Grab a watch case opener, put the sharp edge under the lip with the knife at an angle, like so…
With a little pressure in, and a little push up at the same time, you should be able to snap the lid right off the watch…
Now you can change your battery with ease.
If your watch doesn’t snap off, it’ll probably rotate off with a watch wrench.
There are many different types of common watch wrenches, one with 2 prongs, and one with 3 prongs. Either one works, but the 3 prong is easier to use and since it makes 3 contact points on the watch, it removes the cover much faster, and with less effort.
If your watch requires a watch wrench, you’ll know by the slots, or grooves around the back of the watch like so…
Using a watch wrench is pretty easy. Simply put the top pin into one of the watch slots like so..
Then, adjust the bottom pin with the opposite notch at the bottom of the watch (if it’s a 3 prong wrench, align it with 3 notches around the watch)…
Once the tool is lined up with the notches, all you have to do is push down and turn counterclockwise to loosen the back and twist it off.
Then you can change your battery in 3 seconds flat. :)
If your watch back doesn’t snap off, or twist off, it probably is screwed down. You’ll know this if you see little screws holding your back on your watch, like so…
That’s when you’ll need a set of jeweler’s precision screwdrivers to do the job quickly.
Grab the right sized screwdriver and unscrew them. Once the back is off, you may even need to use them to loosen up the battery holder or strap so you can free your battery.
Removing watch pins:
You’ll also need these trusty little screwdrivers to loosen watch pins that screw in. Take a look at the difference between watch pins that push in, and watch pins that screw…
Unscrewing watch pins is a breeze. Grab the right precision screwdriver and applying slight force, push down and turn counterclockwise. Just don’t strip the screw. If you buy cheap screwdrivers, you’ll probably strip them. Invest in precision screwdrivers and you should have no problems.
If your watch takes push pins instead of screws, then your day just got a little bit more fun… :)
Watch pin remover:
There is a great little device out there called a watch pin remover that does exactly what it says. It removes pins from watch links. And it does it very, very well. This is what jewelers use, and if you want to remove links yourself at home, you’ll need one…
First of all, look at the back of your watch links and see if there are arrows on the back. The arrows tell you which way to push the pins out…
Take a look at this watch with arrows pointing in the direction to push the pins out…
Lay the watch down in the watch pin pusher so the pin hole lines up with the pusher like so…
Now all you have to do is to gently turn or rotate the handle of the remover, and the pin pushes forward into the watch link hole, and pushes the watch pin out, as seen in the image below…
You can clearly see the pin emerging from the hole (“TURTLE“).
Now, I will say that these tools have a mind of their own. It’s very easy to break a pin. All it takes is for the pin to be slightly off angle, not aligned exactly straight in the hole, or for you to apply too much pressure, or move way too fast. You have to be slow and easy, and if you feel resistant, back off, realign, and repeat.
Trust me, even after 30 years of experience, I still break them from time to time. It happens to the best of us.
Line the hole up, rotate the handle and many times the pin will push out, until about 50-60% of the pin is showing. Then you have to do some manual labor. :)
Grab some long nose pliers, Grasp the end of the watch pin and pull straight out. It should be snug, and may be difficult to pull free, but it’ll come. Eventually. You also have to be careful not to bend or break the pin as you pull. You may need this pin later. :)
A pair of great jeweler’s long nose pliers is here…
Once you free the pin, carefully pull apart the watch band. Many watches have extra little, tiny parts inside that fall out, bounce around, and get lost. So keep an eye on those. You’ll need them again when you reconnect the rest of the watch. That little barrel is what keeps this watch pin snug in it’s place. Take a peek…
When you take out however many links you need removed, or added… Put that little barrel back into the watch link hole first (non-magnetic tweezers work best) Before you Push the Rest of the Watch Band back together again…
Once you have it hooked together like a puzzle, grab the watch pin, push it back into the link hole as far as you can. Lay your watch in a watch block, and then grab a watch hammer to tap the pin back into place to secure your band again.
Using a watch hammer is highly advisable, since the rubber end won’t mar or leave scratches or dents in your watch.
Did you know that when you have a hammer in your hands, everything looks like a nail? ;)
The watch block helps in holding the watch in place as you tap pins in, or tap pins out…
When watch pins become stubborn, grab some watch pin pushers, secure the watch in the block and drive the watch pins through.
If you have an assortment of pin pushers, they’ll be able to fit different watches with different sized watch holes.
Once you remove any pins, screws or links that you need… Grab a poly bag and save all your parts. You’ll never know when you eat too much chocolate and need those links back in. Plus, if you ever sell your watch, or hand your watch down, you’ll want those links. :)
Spring bar remover:
If you want to put on a different watch band, fix a broken spring bar, or even just remove the band to clean it in an ultrasonic cleaner, you’ll be happy to own a spring bar remover.
Using these is not difficult at all.
Look at the back of your band near the watch. You’ll see a little slot, notch or hole in the metal, just large enough for the pin pusher to go through…
Once you push it into the hole, push down on the spring bar and pull the band out at the same time. This will free the bar and enable you to remove, repair or fix the end of the watch as shown in the images below…
Watch case press:
What happens when your watch cover won’t go back on?
You’ll need to seal your watch with a watch case press.
This device is very handy and any jeweler couldn’t live without one…
The device comes with many different sized plastic or metal rings that screw onto the top and bottom of the press (I prefer the plastic rings – versus metal rings). Those rings are what presses your watch back together again.
But, you have to find the right sized rings or you’ll damage your watch or crack your crystal. I know, I’ve done that a time or two, too… :)
Find a ring that fits around the crystal of your watch. You don’t want to use one too small, because you don’t want to put direct pressure on the crystal. Find one that is a tad bigger than the actual crystal and circles around the edge of the watch bezel (just not too big because you also don’t want it to apply pressure on the stem of the watch).
Once you find the right top ring, screw it into the top of the press.
Now you need to find a base that is the same size as the back cover of your watch.
If you get one too small, your cover will warp and bend and never go back into place.
Find the right size and screw that into the bottom of the press.
Now all you have to do is to line up the back cover to the watch (align the stem hole above the stem so it doesn’t break under pressure). See image of everything lined up and ready to press…
Push them gently together with the press until everything is on top of one another…
Now all it takes is a good push of the handle and the watch will seal together (usually with a loud snap or pop)… You don’t want to hear a “crunch” of the crystal as it cracks.
Some watches are stubborn and don’t go back together easily. If you feel any slight resistance, easy off, realign and try again.
You don’t want to force it, for you don’t want to break the crystal or bend or break the case or watch. I’ve seen employees snap the band right off the watch.
Slow and steady with gradual pressure and it should all fall into place.
Voila! Your watch is back together again…
All of these tools can come in real handy when you need them. Buy some today…
You can buy your tools separately, but that would cost a pretty penny.
Instead, buy them in kits and save some money.
Below are some very cool watch tool kits that included just about everything you need to get the job done.
All except for a watch press, and cheap batteries (or two). :)
P.S. Jeweler’s loupes and eye pieces come in ultra handy as well! :)
13 piece watch tool kit:
A great 13 piece watch tool kit which includes: Adjustable Case Opener with 18 Pins; Stainless Steel Tweezers; Spring Bar Tool; Link Remover; Watch Case Holder; Watch Case Opener; 3 Piece Precision Screwdrivers, sizes: 1.2mm, 1.4mm, 1.6mm; 3 Piece Pin Punch, Sizes : 0.8mm, 0.9mm, 1.0mm and a Carrying Case.
16 piece watch tool kit:
This handy 16 piece watch tool kit includes the following: Watch Case Opener; Adjustable Watch Pin Remover with 3 Extra Pins; Stainless Steel Non-Magnetic Tweezers; Spring Bar – Pin Pusher Tool; 2 Prong Watch Case Opener; Watch Case Holder Block; 3 Piece Precision Screwdrivers; Watch Hammer; 2 Screwdrivers, Long Nose Pliers.
17 piece watch tool kit:
Lastly, take a look at this wonderful 17 Piece Watch Tool Kit that includes: Needle Nose Pliers, Watch Case Knife, Tweezers, Metal Strap Holder Block, Mini Philips Screwdriver, Watch Hammer, Pin Pusher, Three Pin Punches, Watch Band Adjuster, Buff Cloth, Three Mini Screwdrivers, Watch Case Back Opener, and a Magnifier Loop. All packaged neatly in a Nylon Carrying Case with a Zipper Closure.
So if it’s links, bars, pins or batteries, you really can take matter into your own hands and save yourself some money.
Pick up a watch tool kit today and have some fun repairing your own watch.
Just don’t grumble at me if you accidentally break your crystal.
I never said they worked flawlessly. :)
But… They do work.
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I bought the 13-piece kit from Amazon. It came with no instructions but I was thankful to find your website. The one tool that has no explanation is the black plastic block with the wing nut. It’s shown in the bottom, left of your photo. I’d appreciate any help with this tool. Thanks
Hi John. That’s so you can vise-grip your watch and hold it better while you screw the back off. It helps for leverage and keeps you from damaging the crystal and case. :) -Richard
Thank you, Richard. I’m very grateful for your help. I’m a bit surprised the kit came with no instructions. I figured out most of the bits, myself, but that vise-grip had me puzzled.
I also purchased a kit without instructions.
These instructions have helped me immensely.
These instrunctions helped me immensely…..thanks
Great Instructions indeed, thank you !!
Can you identify the disc looking tool which is just left of the watch wrench in the 13 pc kit?
I cant wait to get started on my battery replacement detail. I have 11 watches, all that need new batteries.
Where can I find new “gaskets” which some watches have inside the rim? They seem to come apart after removing the back.
Have the kit but needed clarification on use so I would not damage any thing.
This is the most helpful article I’ve found on using a watch repair toolkit. Thanks SO much for your hard work. This info is a Godsend for kits that don’t include instructions!
Awesome info. I have kit w/o info also and this site has helped greatly. I paid $16 for my kit and managed to change batteries in 10 watches and adjusted the links in two other watches. My wife and I figured we have saved $110 minimum.
Like others, I bought a kit without any instructions so found this VERY helpful… thanks a lot!
Great info! I am about to adjust my watch, however, I noticed that my links have no arrows and they’re not split pins either.
How can I tell what type of pins they are and how can I remove these links?
Any help would be much appreciated!
Hi Tanya. Usually if there are no arrows, and the pins are not split, you can push them out either direction. A Watch Pin Remover will do the trick! :) -Richard
Great tips, thanks! Really clear instructions for my watch repair kit without any! Love your wit and wisdom Richard.
Hi. A helpful and brilliant site, but would you mind helping me please. I have two of my wife’s watches that need new battery’s, but the backs do not have lips sticking up, or the back does not have notches, they both have smooth backs. Can you help me please? Thanks A. Hart.
Hi Anthony. You need to use a tool (Watch Snap Case Opener) that you can slip in between the case back and watch, and then with slight force, you can pop the lid off. You will probably also need to seal it back on with a watch press as well. :) Good luck! -Richard
I see the last time this blog was used was Dec 2016, but I’ll give it ago anyway. I’m having a problem getting the spring loaded pins back into the steel band on my Lorus watch and was wondering whether you had any tips on how to do this. I did not find anywhere in your very helpful treatise where you deal with this. My particular problem is with the two adjacent to the one attached directly to the watch. Hope I’ve made the problem clear? Regards Wyn
Hi Wyndham, spring loaded bars can be a real pain sometimes. Some are curved, some thinner, some fatter, they all can be a bear to replace if one breaks. Sometimes I’ll go through dozens of different spring bars before I finally find one that works… Which is what you may have to do. If the bar is too long, or too short, or the ends are too big, it can make snapping it back in very difficult. The only way to do this is to keep trying different pins. There’s really no easy way around it. You may also contact the Lorus Watch Repair Center, and they may be able to send you official spring bars that are made to fit this particular watch, or at least aid you in where to take it. Jewelers tend to have assortments of spring bars (collected over years of doing business), and tend to get lucky with the perfect fit…
Now, on the other hand, if your spring bar wasn’t broken, say you just took it off to change the band or clean it, then that’s a different story. You will have to keep trying and manipulate the pin back in (which gets difficult depending on the actual band). But if it came out, it will go back in. You may need to invest in a magnifying headband to see the pin and holes better. But your best bet, just take it in to a local jeweler, they should be able to get a fit, or send it to their watch shop for a new pin. :)
Hope this helps. -Richard
Thank you sooo much! Really clear and useful. I had four watches that needed battery changes and I finally bit the bullet and bought a kit. No instructions, so I am so glad I found your website!
This is a great website. My kit came with no instructions. All I wanted to do is change a battery. Now I know how to add and remove links as well as change a watch band–things to be done that I would have had to take to a jeweler. It is certainly worth trying first. Thank you!
You’re welcome. More to come. :) -Richard
Fantastic article really useful
Great article. I got the kit but did not know how to use some of tools. Thanks so much.
Great job. I also bought the kit and found it confusing to use. Anyway of getting this emailed so I don’t have to continue to look this up in the future?
Wow! Wow! Wow!
This post and website are awesome. I love to tinker with watches, but didn’t have the correct tools. After I bought the tool kit, I needed the instruction. You have provided that perfectly. Thanks so much!!!
Just ordered my press!! I’m so excited, I can’t wait to get started!!
Is there a good way to sharpen a watch case opener? I can’t seem to pry my snap back off and I think it’s due to a very dull opener.
Hello. You may be able to use a blade sharpener stone, or even a grinder (?), but when they get that dull I would just buy a new one or use a pocket knife instead. :) -Richard