Glenn Stok is a technical writer with a Master of Science degree. He evaluates products for consumers and clearly explains their features.
Here are DIY instructions to open your watch and replace the battery with this easy-to-use, low-cost case back remover tool.
I discovered that replacement watch batteries in retail stores are a lot cheaper than a jeweler or watch repair shop will charge you for replacing them.
If your watch has a screw-type back, you can open it with this wrench-type tool shown above. It’s used to unscrew the back of the watch case and is available on Amazon.
It comes in a kit that includes pins to fit different watches, and it works with any watch that has slots for the pins and a screw-off back.
I found it very easy to use. It has a wheel to adjust the displacement of two pins, and the handle turns to adjust the location of the third pin, so it fits any size watch.
- I will show you how to use this case remover tool to change the battery.
- I’ll guide you through the process of properly replacing it and closing your watch.
- You’ll also learn how and where to get the correct replacement battery.
How to Open the Watch Case
There are two most common kinds of watch back covers:
- Those that pop off
- Those that screw off
You would only need the case remover tool shown here for screw-off backs. I’ll walk you through removing both types.
Removing a Pop-off Back Cover
If your watch doesn’t have slots around the edge of the back cover, then it doesn’t twist off. You’ll see an indentation on one side of the back cover instead. That is there to help pry off the back.
You’ll need a tiny screwdriver that you can buy in any local hardware store. The kind in an eyeglass repair kit will work just fine. Insert the tip of the screwdriver into that slot, and pry off the back cover. Giving the screwdriver a little twist should pop it off pretty easily.
Removing a Screw-off Back Cover
For this, you’ll need the case remover tool. It has pins that fit into the slots on the back cover. You’ll notice that the back of your watch has several slots around its edge.
There are two kinds of these tools. Some have only two pins. I don’t recommend those. Get a three-pin case remover tool like the one I use (shown below). Grabbing three slots makes it easier to loosen the back.
Once you have it loosened, you can continue to unscrew the back by hand.
The case remover tool includes six sets of three pins to fit differently shaped slots on the back of your watch and a watch holder to keep it steady. I found it’s easier to place the watch face-down on the table instead of using the holder. But you can experiment to find the easiest way for you to handle it.
The first time you use the tool, you’ll need to select three pins that match the shape of the slots (round, square, flat, or triangular). Then adjust two of the pins to fit the slots on your watch using the little adjustment wheel.
When you have those set properly, move the third pin in or out to match the last slot by turning the tool’s handle. Now all three pins should align properly.
When properly aligned, you’ll be able to twist off the back without slipping. I found it works to line up two of the pins first, then the third. When all three are in the slots, twist to loosen the back. Then you can continue to unscrew it by hand.
Once I set the proper position of the pins for my watch, I left it that way, so I never had to readjust the tool when I needed to replace the battery again in the future.
Note the Battery’s Code and Placement
With the back of the case removed, the battery will be visible. Before you remove it, notice its placement. You will want to place the new battery with its + side up or down as before.
Some batteries will pop right out when you turn the watch over. Others may have a clip to hold it in. You may need to slide that clip out of the way, but be careful not to damage it.
When you remove the battery from your watch, examine the code number on it. You might need a magnifying glass.
An interesting trick is to use your mobile phone camera to view it and enlarge the image. That worked for me to be able to read that small number. You can download a free magnifier app from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Save the code somewhere so you’ll have it when you need to replace your battery again in the future. That will help you avoid opening the watch to find the code again before you go shopping.
Where to Buy Replacement Watch Batteries
Please don’t buy a replacement from Amazon. I’ve done that, thinking I was saving money because they sell them with several in a packet at low cost. But believe me, you don’t need more than one at a time anyway because a good battery will last for a few years.
I discovered that Amazon’s batteries don’t last long, even if they are name brand. I guess no one buys them, and they get old in the warehouse. I had to replace them after a few months. So a pack of five gives you the same life as one decent battery bought locally in a single packet.
I found that Walmart has good replacement batteries for most watches that last a long time. You might have to find a store clerk to ask where they are stored. Make sure to buy one with the exact same code number.
Walmart sells both Energizer and Duracell watch batteries in packets such as those shown below. And they cost a lot less than you’d pay a repair shop to change it.
Replacing the Battery
Remember that I said earlier to notice the placement of the old battery before removing it. You must place the new one in the same way, with the + side up or down as before.
I recommend washing your hands before touching the new battery. Skin oils can ruin having good electrical contact.
After you replace the battery:
- Replace the back and screw it into position by hand.
- Use the tool to tighten it, but don’t over-tighten it.
- Stop twisting when you feel it won’t turn any further.
Summary of Crucial Steps
- Remember to keep a record of the battery code your watch uses, so you have it when you need to buy a new one. That way, you won’t need to open the watch until you have the new battery ready to use.
- Also, remember to notice the plus and minus side’s placement, if it’s up or down, so you put the new one in correctly.
- It’s always good to wash your hands before handling batteries to avoid getting skin oils on the leads.
You’ll find it so easy to do yourself, and you’ll probably start replacing watch batteries for all your friends too.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Glenn Stok
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on March 31, 2021:
Venkatachari, as long as you know which battery code number to get, you should be okay. If you didn’t save the old battery, you can try looking up the watch manufacturer’s specs online.
Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on March 31, 2021:
Very useful article. Now, I hope, I can easily change my watch battery which is lying for a year without any battery.
Thanks, Glenn, for sharing this wonderful how-to-do article.