Non-motoring > Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off Miscellaneous
Thread Author: smokie Replies: 42

 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - smokie
Daughter has brought home 3 cheap watches requiring batteries. I think I've seen a card of watch batteries in Poundland but I can't see how to get the backs of the watches. I have a watchmakers set of screwdrivers - is it just a matter of prising it off or is there a technique, or something to look for?

The local jeweller charged me 7 for mine last time I had it done...
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Old Sock
A lage kitchen knife with a sharp blade works well.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - rtj70
The watch that needed a battery replacing last did not have in indent to get the back off. So a sharp blade was the only option. In the end I took it to the local jewellers because I didn't want to slice my hand.

Shoe repair places tend to be cheaper for replacing batteries. I think you will need to use a blade to open it. And they can then be a pain to get closed again. Pay someone else and pass on the cost ;-)
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - bathtub tom
A Stanley knife blade will often do the trick, however, it then needs to be replaced without cracking the face glass.

The specialists have a small vice type thingmy with different diameter spacers for this.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Mike Hannon
Cheapo Chinese batteries don't last long enough to make it worth struggling to get the back off more often. Buy better ones.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - madf
Why change batteries on cheap watches?

Buy another watch...
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - smokie
These are cheap dress watches, I agree she ought to ditch them but if I can change the batteries for pennies then it's a better option for someone who has a new home & mortgage!
The Stanley knife did the trick and all are the same size battery. One is Maxell the other two are Sony. Thanks
Last edited by: smokie on Wed 29 Dec 10 at 11:10
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Stuartli
>> Why change batteries on cheap watches?

Buy another watch...>>

I buy the 99p or 1 packs of batteries (40 or 50 in the pack of various sizes) and even just using one battery is cheaper in the long run than paying brand name prices, which are most likely in any case the same product rebadged.

These batteries normally last at least a year in cheap watches I wear for general/messing about daytime use and getting the back off usually proves easy if just a straight lift-off action, using a large size miniature screwdriver (the 1 a pack type!)

I only wear my decent watches as and when required..:-)
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - lancara
Jeweller replaced the battery in my Seiko this week - they have a screw-off back which needs a special adaptor. Didn't complain at 3
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Stuartli
>>Didn't complain at 3>>

It can cost at least 25 if you have a water resistant Seiko or Pulsar due to the need to properly re-seal the watch.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - rtj70
Or say don't replace the seals and remember to keep it out of the water?
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - madf
I kept breaking watches. Switched to Casios decades ago.. the cost of new watch straps is more than the watch but they just keep going. Two batteries (incl the original) in 10 years so far.
Last edited by: madf on Wed 29 Dec 10 at 13:27
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - FotheringtonTomas
>> is it just a matter of prising it off or is there a technique, or something to look for?

There should be a section of the back which has been ground to make a place where you can put in your fingernail or a knife blade to prise it off - imagine that the back is a disc of metal, and that one edge has been filed at an angle, leaving the other edge intact. Don't use a very sharp knife or razor blade, it's not necessary, and could damage the watch or you - a pen-knife would be OK. You don't need to use force.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - rtj70
>> There should be a section of the back which has been ground to make a place where you
>> can put in your fingernail or a knife blade to prise it off

Not on all watches - it's why Smokie was asking. You don't think we're stupid enough to miss something like that. I have at least two watches without the notch you mention. I assume it's because they assume you'll just buy a new watch instead of a replacement battery.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - FotheringtonTomas
>> >> There should be a section of the back which has been ground
>>
>> Not on all watches - it's why Smokie was asking.

He didn't say that in his OP. That's why I posted the info.

>> You don't think we're stupid enough to miss something like that.

I don't know.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - smokie
When I used the Stanley knife it seemed to go under the edge easier one side than the other on two out of three, so maybe that edge was bevelled a bit. I couldn't see it beforehand though...
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - rtj70
I tried using a blade (penknife though) on a Next watch... after risking injury I took it to the jewellers.

Battery replaces but the original problem of losing time when worn remained. Leave it on the side board (or similar for the pedants) and it kept time. As soon as it was worn it started to go slow.... maybe they really didn't want you to open them because the time mechanism becomes unreliable?
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - FotheringtonTomas
Sometimes there's a build-up of "dirt"[1] around the back that makes it harder to see where the tab has been ground.

[1] Old oily stuff from skin exudations and fragments of sloughed off dead skin. Lovely!
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - henry k
>>There should be a section of the back which has been ground to make a place where you can put in your fingernail or a knife blade to prise it off -
>.
On all the cheap watches I have changed batteries, they have not had this slot.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Stuartli
>>..where you can put in your fingernail or a knife blade to prise it off..>>

You don't have many fingernails left then?
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - L'escargot
Are there indents around the periphery of the backs? If there are, the backs unscrew.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Runfer D'Hills
Wouldn't know. Simply couldn't bear to wear a cheap watch. The very thought..... harumpf...Country's going to the dogs if you ask me....

:-)
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Crankcase
I've bought a few watches from eBay for a few pounds - it's amazing what you can get very cheaply, and often they just need a battery, or a strip down and clean if they are clockwork; a quick polish and they're fine for general wear. Mrs C has taken to one particularly that was in a batch of ten "non-workers" and with a new strap it looks the business for the moment. Total cost of about six quid. Another I sorted and we donated it to a charity raffle. It was snapped up as first prize, with the recipient repeatedly telling us since how nice it has been. Cost two pounds, that one.

Anyway, I got a proper case opening tool and not been beaten yet. Have a look at this page that talks about lots of different case backs and opening methods.The rest of the site is interesting too.

thewatchguy.homestead.com/pages/OPENCASE.html
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - rtj70
Just got out my slow running watch I got for a present a few years ago - from Next.

I reset the time earlier and it is spot on. If I wear it it will lose time.

There is nothing on the back like a recess to get a sharp knife or similar into - but it is a Next watch I suppose.

I changed the battery because it was losing time (original battery) but it wasn't that. It was designed not to last I suspect.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Crankcase
Possibly just dirty. A watchmaker might whizz it with one of these jiggers, or similar. Cleans it up. Not worth buying one just for one watch of course, but you can get them for about 30 quid.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rph05SVuSu8
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - rtj70
When not worn it runs just fine.... for days on end. Could dirt cause a problem only when worn?
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Leif
I took my watch to have the battery replaced. The incompetent beggers have had it now for almost 3 months. Not sure I can name them due to forum policy, but it was H. Samuel. I thought they'd make sure the back was not marked as it is a not too shabby gold Rotary picked up on ebay for a song. Next time I'll go to an independent who can do it while I wait. It is hard to believe they can take so long. Scuse me while I pause to scream ...

Anyway, to answer the question, there are various kinds of back. Some screw on and off. Some pop off. In either case you really need the proper tool, unless you don't care about cutting yourself or marking the watch. I don't mean to patronise, but I'd take care with knives and the like, as a month or two back I almost sliced off the soft tip of a finder when penknife collapsed. I now have a finger tip that lacks proper sensation. (The law does not allow use of fixed blades outside, which is ironic, as they are safer than penknives.) The various watch repair tools are available, on ebay and elsewhere, usually made in China, and so so quality. I bought a link remover for straps and it is okay.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - CGNorwich
"I took my watch to have the battery replaced. The incompetent beggers have had it now for almost 3 months."

I take mine to a guy on the market who does it while you wait and charges 3
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Bellboy
you make a very valid point leif
i havent got the use of one finger tip after i shaved in on a wing rail about 8 years ago and its not pleasant
i also read about using blades and cringed as i imagined the blade breaking and flying into ones eye
i renewed the batteries in all my watches a few months back and was extremely careful,the overriding annoyance for me though was the fact all the movements seemed to be the same irrespective of the amount of money spent on the outer casing
im now an even ardenter believer in real swiss parentage
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - FotheringtonTomas
>> i havent got the use of one finger tip after i shaved in on a
>> wing rail about 8 years ago and its not pleasant

I touched a moving router blade a while ago, and had to tape up my finger with bog paper and masking tape and leave it for a week or so, until the mince had started to heal. The next while was spent picking wood splinters out of it with a pin! Only tonight, I have suffered a b loody gash in my right thumb, caused by levering the top off a bottle of Hobgoblin using a pair of scissors. C'est la guerre.
Last edited by: FotheringtonTomas on Thu 30 Dec 10 at 00:34
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - R.P.
Welcome back BB !
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Old Sock
Yes, children - sharp things can indeed cut :-)

Funny how many contributors will happily advise delving into electrical appliances, central heating/boiler systems, house wiring, building repairs, car DIY and the like - yet warn of dire consequences on removing a watch back with a kitchen knife! Such a risky operation is best left to 'the professionals', eh?

I was not suggesting frenetically wading in with a Swann-Morton No.10 blade - these (and Stanley knives) are somewhat too brittle for the task in hand. A stout 'cook's knife' seems to work best for me. Use chain-mail gloves and eye protection if you must....

My left thumb still bears a nasty scar from catching a jar of marmalade which fell out of the fridge. I grasped it just as it shattered on the kitchen floor, resulting in mucho blood. This has not meant a total ban on orange-based preserves - just a healthy respect for the sharpness of broken glass.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - R.P.
Qualifies for the post of the year that Old Sock !
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Zero

>> Funny how many contributors will happily advise delving into electrical appliances, central heating/boiler systems, house
>> wiring, building repairs, car DIY and the like - yet warn of dire consequences on
>> removing a watch back with a kitchen knife! Such a risky operation is best left
>> to 'the professionals', eh?

Indeed and why not. I will happily delve into, and have repaired many electrical appliances, serviced and fitted gas boilers, car diy, house wiring, you name it.

Despite the odd electrical shock, my most serious injuries have all come from doing unnatural things with kitchen knives.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Old Sock

>> ... my most serious injuries have all come from doing unnatural
>> things with kitchen knives.
>>

Just put it down to a lack of skill, Z :-)
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Roger.
>>Despite the odd electrical shock, my most serious injuries have all come from doing unnatural things with kitchen knives. >>
That sounds a bit XXX rated!
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Leif
Old Sock said:
>> I was not suggesting frenetically wading in with a Swann-Morton No.10 blade - these (and
>> Stanley knives) are somewhat too brittle for the task in hand. A stout 'cook's knife'
>> seems to work best for me. Use chain-mail gloves and eye protection if you must....

If anyone dared use one of my (Japanese) kitchen knives for such a purpose, I'd skin them alive, or at least have a very very big sulk with lots of dirty looks, and muttering. You can buy back openers on ebay, I have one, pretty nasty quality, but cheap and fine for a cheap watch. I inherited a Jaeger Le Coultre watch, but some mutt had damaged the case trying to open it, probably the so-called watchmaker when he serviced the mechanism.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - Leif
Bellboy said:
>> the overriding annoyance for me though was the fact all the movements seemed to be
>> the same irrespective of the amount of money spent on the outer casing
>> im now an even ardenter believer in real swiss parentage

Well, quartz is quartz. There is so much smoke and mirrors when it comes to watches. JUst choose the one you like the look of. Peter Mandelson wears a watch that cost several tens of thousands of pounds. That one has a mechanical movement, but mechanical movements are usually less accurate, and require regular and pricey servicing every 4 years or so. I cannot see the point of such an expensive watch. I splashed out on a gold Rotary watch on ebay for 125 (steady on I hear you say), it was brand new. I see they are now 500 on the high street. I'm not sure how that works, except that marketing is all. I'm sure it wasn't 'borrowed' from Bernie Ecclestone.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - smokie
.... and I once bought a "Rolex" from a lookee lookee man on the beach abroad somewhere for five euros - kept perfect time for the few years it stayed in my drawer
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - L'escargot
If only we knew what the backs of smokie's watches look like ~ rectangular, circular, detents around the periphery etc. We won't get anywhere without that information.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - smokie
Hi Les. As mentioned higher up the thread, all backs are off.

Following someone else's post I've found replacement batteries on eBay which are on order. They were all different shapes with snap on backs, and the Stanley knife made the job easy, but one side appeared to have a notch which I couldn't see but meant the blade slid further under, allowing better leverage.

I too recognised the risk of slicing my finger but wore a thick gardening glove on the "at risk "hand, and also considered the "breaking blade" scenario but as a specs wearer took a chance on that.
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - L'escargot
>> Hi Les. As mentioned higher up the thread, all backs are off.

D'oh! I'll shut up!
Last edited by: L'escargot on Thu 30 Dec 10 at 08:58
 Changing watch batteries - can't get the back off - VxFan
Only ever had one watch that nearly defeated me when trying to put the back on again after a battery change. I ended up using a large socket that was just slightly larger in circumference than the glass face; I also wrapped the socket in a cloth for extra protection, then placed the watch in a vice and slowly clicked the back into place. Using a vice meant that the load was spread evenly across the whole watch and I could control the amount of pressure needed to clip it all back together.

Most backs I've got off with a watchmakers screwdriver, but there are a few that I use a cheap imitation Swiss army penknife to pop the back off. I know it's an imitation one as it's useless at getting stones out of horses hooves ;o)
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