Sunday, September 18, 2011

EDU: Changing Your Watch Battery

As a lover of watch finery, I knew this day was inevitable. In recent months, my watch collection had slowly dwindled until only the solar-powered remained. The others had succumbed long ago to the limitations of their lithium hearts, and were collecting dust on bureau. Last week, I purchased this inexpensive watch tool kit from Amazon, with the hopes that I could avoid the hassle and expense of spending an afternoon at the jeweler. I was tired of spending half the price of my watch every other year, just to keep it ticking. I'm not sure if this was a symptom of my frugality or impatience, but enough was enough. I set aside most of the morning Saturday to tackle this project, and am happy to report that after two hours and $24, all of my watches are back in circulation.

Here is an excerpt of the watches. There were six in total, spanning 4 brands and three different cover fastening mechanisms.

Here are the tools laid out on my patio. Tweezers, pliers, screwdrivers, hammer, flat metal knife, and some strange torture devices. If I can't change their batteries, I can at least make them talk.

This tool, as I later learned, is for removing pins from a watchband, and not as a means to "get Medieval" on these watches. As I loathe watches with metal bands, I had no use for it.

Now THIS sexy number, actually has a valuable use. It's perfectly suited for removing the cases of "screw-back" watches, of which my Puma is. Simply adjusting the pins to fit the diameter of your watch, align the little pins into the indentations, and twist counterclockwise. This went quite smoothly and I was bursting with pride.

Here is the money shot. A look at the gorgeous innards and intricacies housed within a watch. I don't know what does what, but the battery was easy enough to find and remove. I tried not to touch anything else, and set it aside while I went to work on the rest.

I should have added something to use for scale here, but this battery was SMALL. I'm glad I brought out a paper towel and put everything small into a baggy immediately, or I surely would have lost something important. I did not however, keep track of which battery went to which watch, an oversight we will return to shortly.

Two of these watches had simple screw-backs, which were easy to handle with the included micro Phillips screwdriver. It took a little bit of pressure and care to make sure I didn't strip anything, but they were no match for me. Interestingly, this tiny Timex watch contained the biggest battery by far, for reasons I still don't understand. In fact, every watch I opened had a different sized battery, which made tracking them all down afterwards quite an adventure.

The final three watches (two Skagens and a Lucien Piccard), were, to put it tactfully, huge bitches. They all had pressure fit watch backs, which were firmly sealed and had only the slightest of lips for a tool to slip in and pop the cover off. This problem was compounded by the fact that the tool kit case knife wasn't nearly thin enough to fit. Perhaps I could shuck a loose Oyster with it, but there was no way it would open these watches. In an act of desperation (there was no way I was leaving these three watches behind after coming so far), I found a nifty tool in the kitchen that did the trick.

With this little bugger, I was able to get my "pry" on. If I am reincarnated as a squirrel, I think I'll be ok.

Cut to six watches left open on the operating table while I ran down to Walgreens with my baggy of batteries. They had ONE. -$5. I then walked further to the hardware store to take in their battery collection. Good selection. Four more batteries acquired. -$18.

Before I spent anymore time leaving my watches as prey for curious birds, I would run back home and install what I had found so far, and figure out the final one later. I also wanted to check that the batteries actually worked, specifically two from the hardware store that looked to be from the 90's. I asked the cashier if they were still good, and he claimed that they only started putting expiration dates on them this year. With limited options, I took my chances. Sure enough, both of these batteries were dead. I brought them back to the store for a refund. +$9. So close, yet so far. Miraculously, as I started checking convenience stores (desperate, I know), a lady pointed me in the direction of a neighborhood jeweler, who would surely sell me batteries. After getting into this whole mess to avoid the jeweler, I was tickled that I would be crawling back there, but at least I would salvage some pride by not asking them to install them for me. As luck would have it, they had each of my three remaining batteries, and only charged my $10 for the set. I should have gone here in the first place.

They looked like robot aspirin, but they worked just fine. It took a little while to size up which battery fit where, and get the backs back on (goddamn pressure backs again), but the ticking symphony was a wonderful reward for my hard work. All in all, I learned a LOT, didn't break anything, and saved $50. DO IT. 


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