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A Novice’s Guide to Removing Watch Backs Correctly

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There are a variety of reasons why you might need to open your watch back. It could be that you want to change a battery, straighten the watch hands, replace a gasket or get inside to remove built-up dust. Whatever the reason, in order to carry out these jobs, you’ll need to use a suitable watch back removal tool to ensure you don’t cause any damage.

Watch backs come in all shapes and sizes, with some being easy to open while others require specialist watch case opener tools and knowledge. Of course, we can’t cover all of them in one blog, so we’re going to look at the three main types. Llet’s examine those now.

Type 1 - The ‘Screw Off’ Watch Back

The first variety we’ll look at are the watches with a screw off back, which are very often designed that way to create a waterproof seal. These watch backs will usually have equally-spaced notches cut into the edges and require a watch opener tool to remove safely without leaving any scratch marks.

We’ve seen some people attempt this kind of job with scissors and other inappropriate tools, but we wouldn’t recommend it as some watch backs are easily broken this way. Once you have the correct screw type of watch back removal tool, it’s simply a matter of using it slowly to turn the back anticlockwise until it becomes free.

Type 2 - The ‘Snap Off’ & ‘Pressure Fit’ Watch Backs

The next type is the snap off watch back that is typically completely smooth to the touch with no discernable screws or notches of any kind. It is very similar to the pressure fit watch case back which, again, is usually completely smooth with no obvious way of gaining purchase.

We’ve put these two types together as they’re usually removed in the same way. They can both be opened using an affordable watch case opener tool or a specially designed case knife, which you’ll use to gently pry the case away from the watch. Look for a small lip or an indentation which will often be present to make the job easier. Be careful though, as some pressure watch backs require a case press to put back on!

Type 3 - A Watch Back With Four or More Screws

Lastly, we’ll look at another common type of watch back, one which features a smooth back that is held in place with four or more screws. These watches can be made of rubber, plastic, metal and other materials and will require the right sort of screwed watch back remover tools. 

You’ll need a watchmaker’s screwdriver, some non-magnetic tweezers and a receptacle in which to put the screws once they’re removed. As with all of the methods detailed here,  the work will ideally be done on a bench mat that’s free of dust. Simply remove the screws gently, one by one, place the screws safely to the side as you go and you’re in!

Most Things Are Easy When You Know How

At Maddisons of Durham, we create blogs like this one to make it easier for everyone to perform maintenance on their timepieces. As you can see, whilst there are a few different types of watch back in existence, with a basic watch opener tool or two and a bit of patience, the job is a fairly simple one to complete. All that you need to remember is to be careful not to scratch or damage the watch back itself during the process.

It’s important to stress that there are many different types of watch back and some will require a professional to remove them. So, if yours doesn’t fit into the categories mentioned above and it’s not obvious how to go about it, then it’s important to talk to a specialist before you cause any unnecessary damage by using the wrong method. 

We hope you have enjoyed our latest blog on removing watch backs and if you would like to see the wide range of watch back removal tool options we have in stock, all you need to do is take a look around our website www.maddisonsofdurham.co.uk.

If you’re unsure about which watch back removal tool to buy once you’re there, you can reach out to us for advice by emailing us on [email protected] and we’ll do our very best to give you the answers you need.