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Tips for the do-it-yourselfer

These tips are to be used at your own risk.  If you have an expensive watch and have no experience with watches, then you should go see your watchmaker or jeweler!!  Always be careful as it is easy to cut your hands trying to change a band or trying to open a watch!!

Changing Bands

Very often, I hear from owners who would like to change the band on his/her watch. Sometimes it is a relatively easy job. However, some bands need to be changed by the professional. Leather bands and cloth one-piece bands like the one below can often be easily changed by the owner.

 

Metal bands can be a nightmare. They must be sized to fit, and they are often hard to remove AND hard to fit to size without the proper tools. Every now and then I slip and cut myself trying to remove or fit a metal band. So, if seeing your own blood is not your bag, leave it to your jeweler or watchmaker.

 

Band removal - Some bands are part of the case and cannot be removed, so examine your band to see if it is part of the case. Most removable bands are held to the watch case with telescoping bars that are spring loaded. I call them spring bars. They fit through a through hole in each end of the band. These bars are hollow, and are made of either stainless steel or plated brass. They come in many sizes, widths, thicknesses, and some are even curved. Some are heavy duty, for example Rolex Oyster (tm) and diver's watches generally have hefty spring bars. Inside the spring bar is a "spring." The expanded spring bar must be larger that the distance between the lugs of the watch. The lugs of the watch (the part of the watch that the band attaches) are drilled with a hole in each lug. The ends of the bar can be pushed in to make it snap into the holes. Once in, it can be difficult to get out. If the lugs are drilled all the way through, then you are in luck. For then, all you have to do is insert a small tool (such as a paper clip end) into the outside end of the lugs to compress the spring bar and hence remove it. Generally, a watchmaker's case knife (see below)

with a small blade (1-in long is fine) (not a real sharp one) can be slipped between the band and the lug and pushed away from the lug to catch the spring end of the bar. There are special band tools that are sold for removing spring bars. The tool has a screwdriver blade with a notch cut into it to fit over the spring bar on one end, and a thin cylinder on the other end to push out spring bars for watch cases with lugs drilled all the way through. However, I use the knife as I have better luck with it for leather bands. When it comes to metal bands with a slot in the back, I just use an old screwdriver of the proper size to fit into the slot. But be careful or you will cut yourself if you slip.

 

Cutting out spring bar - If the spring bar is fitted with both ends fully inside the hole, then you must cut out the spring bar. I use the knife to push back the leather band, and then employ a cutting pliers  (cutter at end) to clip the spring bar. If the leather band is to be thrown away, just cut the band off entirely and then cut the spring bar in the center. It is easy to cut the spring bar in the center as it is hollow. However, the ends that are spring loaded are solid. Be VERY careful not to cut into the case.

 

Unless the old spring bars look perfect, use new spring bars when you change the band. Spring bars are cheap. Even nice stainless spring bars for expensive watches are only a dollar or so each.  If the spring bar is old and has a weak spring, it may slip out and you may no longer have a watch on your arm when you look down to see the time!!!

 

Changing Watch Batteries (really a watch cell)

You can save money by changing the battery in your watch.  However, if you have an expensive watch, it may not be worth it.  If you have an inexpensive watch, then you have little to lose.  Most of the common inexpensive watches have a snap on back.  But, these backs can be very difficult to open, AND difficult to close.  Watch batteries are dangerous to pets and small children as they may be swallowed.  So, dispose of them properly.  A snap back case can be removed with a watch case knife by pressing the knife into the seam between the case back and the watch frame.  Press hard and then twist slightly.  Most batteries in inexpensive watches can be pried out with a small screwdriver as they are held in place only with a spring clamp.  The better watches have a strap over the watch battery that is held down by a screw.  The screw must be loosened or in some cases removed.  Since the strap is a spring, the strap will often shoot the screw into the air when it comes loose.  So, be careful.  If the old battery has leaked, then your watch may be ruined.  Sometimes, you can use a pencil eraser to clean the terminals if the battery has leaked.  Be sure to put the new battery in the watch in the same orientation as the old battery.  Batteries have a positive side and a negative side, so the polarity must be correct.  Make sure to replace any o-ring or rubber gasket in the case back if it falls out of the case back.  If you have some silicon grease, apply it to the gasket before closing the back.  Sometimes a press is needed to close the back as it must snap on.  Be careful or you can break the glass crystal when pressing a case back together.  We will try to add a few pictures in the future to help you out.

Removing scratches from the watch case and band 

I have written a lesson on how to do this.  It is lesson #8.  I can't give all of my secrets and tricks away for free!!!

Removing scratches from glass crystals

There are special kits available to do this.  Removing deep scratches is not practical.  Removing scratches from plastic crystals is much easier.  Simply use fine sandpaper to remove the deep scratches and then polish with the special crystal compound that we sell on our website.  You will need a buffing wheel for this job or you may be able to use a Dremel tool or drill with a small cloth wheel.

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