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You’ve got a problem with your watch. You’re handy. You’re pretty sure you can fix it yourself. And you might be right! Here are some common issues and how to resolve them.

Before you begin, it’s important to understand that fixes done by anyone other than a watch-repair professional can affect the worth of your watch. The resale value of a luxury watch is highest when you have service records and its best that those services are performed by the manufacturer. But if that’s not a concern, roll up your sleeves and get to repairing your watch!

common watch problems

How to Open a Case

It all starts with opening up your watch. A few exceptions aside, there are four kinds of cases you will encounter.

1. Snap-Back: To open a snap-back case use a penknife or similar thin, flat blade to pry open the case at the raised lip with a twist of the blade.

2. Screw-Back: You’ll want to pick up a screw-back removal tool for this type. Resembling a pair of pincers, the tool slips into slots on the perimeter of the case. Twist counterclockwise to open, finishing with your fingers after the tool has loosened the cover.

3. Case with Screws: These cases generally have four Phillips-head screws that can be removed with a small screwdriver.

4. Swatch-Style Case: These ports can be twisted open using a coin. You don’t actually remove the cover of the sealed case but do get access to the battery.

common watch problems

My Watch Has Stopped 

Hint, it’s probably the battery. This may sound like a simple one but a thing you might overlook. Check the battery. Many watch batteries have lives of about two years. That number can go up to three years or more with a quartz watch that’s designed to run longer. But chances are if your watch has stopped, you need to replace the battery.

The case removed, you can see what’s holding the battery in place. With a spring clip or loose installation, you have easy access. Many batteries are held in place with a screw and cover that will require a small screwdriver. It’s best to use non-conductive watch tools to avoid damaging your watch with an electric shock. The same is true for the tweezers you’ll want to use for removing the battery. Plastic is best to avoid shock. Before removing the battery check the position of the writing on the back. You want to set the replacement battery in the same manner.

common watch problems

The information on your old battery will tell you what replacement you’ll need. You can get a new one at a jewelry store, an electronics store, drugstore or online. Use the same plastic tools to set the new battery in place and your watch should spring back to life. If not, you may have inserted the battery upside down or the connection is broken. In the latter case, you may have to take it to a watch-repair shop.

The Second Hand is Skipping

This is a sign that your battery is near the end of its life. It’s also a warning to address the issue as soon as possible. An ailing battery could leak acid into your watch and do damage.

If the second hand is locked in a back-and-forth movement in one spot, there’s likely an issue with the movement that’s beyond a simple home repair.

common watch problems

My Watch is Running Fast (or Slow)

Do nothing. It’s common for watches to gain or lose a little time every day. While the changes are tiny and incremental, over time it can make it seem like you have a big problem. But unless you are losing more than a few seconds each day, there is likely no issue.

The Buttons Won’t Bounce

If buttons on your watch don’t pop out after they’re pushed in, the most likely culprit is dust. Even though your watch case is sealed, dirt can accumulate over time and get lodged in the springs that make the buttons pop out. Professionals use ultrasonic cleaners to safely remove the dirt. But you can use plastic tweezers and a tiny piece of absorbent material to remove the dirt. If you can’t easily access the tube that contains the spring, take it to a professional. Do not touch the spring with your fingers as you could introduce oils that will make the problem worse.

common watch problems

Smartwatch Solutions

I’m Always Recharging

Much like your mobile phone and tablet, if your watch isn’t holding a charge for long you should look at what’s draining the battery. Remove apps you don’t need. Turn off features you aren’t using and dim your screen’s brightness.

Voice Command Problems: If your smartwatch is having trouble recognizing voice commands, it could be background noise. Make sure your voice isn’t competing with other sounds. Some trial and error with tone and pacing will also be needed to make your voice commands instantly recognizable.

smartwatch

I’ve Got a Sticky Apple

The crown on the Apple Watch is notorious for sticking and ceasing to register each click. Turn off the watch and pour warm water on the whirligig for about 15 seconds.

Bluetooth Won’t Connect

Simple as it sounds, turn your Bluetooth off and on again to reconnect.

But perhaps the best advice when attempting to repair your own watch is caution. A few pennies saved with home maintenance could do damage that could cost you quite a few dollars.

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