I Replace a Watch Battery

By D. J. McAdam.

I had never previously thought of replacing a watch battery myself.  There was no need to do so.  Watch batteries were replaced by qualified individuals at malls, and when a battery in one of my watches died, I either took it to said individual or, if the value of the watch was very low, discarded the watch.  What could be more simple?  Except that, this time, it was just before Christmas, and I was avoiding malls at all costs.  And the watch, an Invicta with a blue dial, was really too nice to just throw away.

There were a lot of things that stood in the way of my replacing the watch battery myself, chief among them being the fact that I knew nothing about how to go about it.  Had I been interested enough in the process to watch the gentleman at Mr. Fix-It replace past dead batteries?  No, I had not.  Was I naturally handy?  Quite the opposite.  Did I have an acquaintance with knowledge of the inner workings of watches?  Not that I was aware of.  The list went on and on.

Nevertheless, replacing the battery myself was the course that I decided upon.  I couldn't order the battery ahead of time, because I didn't know what battery I would need.  The watch in question was an Invicta Men's 5273 II Collection Two-Tone Chronograph, no longer available.  I'd paid under a hundred dollars for it in August, 2009, and the sweeping second hand had stopped sweeping after less than a year.  The reason for my providing these details is to explain that I wanted the watch to work again, but would not be crushed if my experiment in battery replacement failed.

Which brings me, before going any further, to a disclaimer: nothing that follows should be considered professional advice (since I am not a professional in this matter), nor advice of any kind whatsoever.  If you decide to change your watch battery yourself, that decision is yours and yours alone. 

Alright, then.  Here are the steps that I followed in changing the battery on my watch:

  1. Select a clean, uncluttered, well-lit place to work, where the watch can be protected and where tiny pieces, should they fall to the floor, will not be lost forever in dark shag carpet;
  2. Examine the back of the watch, to see how it comes off.  In the case of the Invicta, the back is unscrewed in a counterclockwise direction, by use of a special tool, the tool in question being a Professional JAXA Type XL Watch Case Back Opener Wrench for Large Waterproof Watches which cost $27.50. 
  3. Obtain said tool from Amazon, along with the Professional Jeweler's Large Aluminum Watch Case Movement Holder which might not be completely necessary but which I found to be of great assistance in holding the watch in place while I struggled to unscrew the back of the watch with the wrench.  That item cost $12.69.  I also ordered, at the same time, Silicone Grease, which again is not absolutely necessary but which is of great help in ensuring that the O ring ( a black ring inside the case where the back and the rest of the watch meet, which forms a seal) is not dried out.  The silicone grease cost $4.95, and has a myriad of other uses around the home. 
  4. Once the above items are delivered, place the watch face down in the watch case holder, and figure out by trial and error how to use the instruction-less watch wrench (you put pins in the wrench holes, adjust the wrench so that the pins line up with the indentations on the edge of the watch back, avoid uttering oaths as one of the pins occasionally falls out of the wrench, and then, when all is aligned correctly, use the wrench to unscrew the back of the watch).  Time and patience are your allies here.  Especially patience. 
  5. Gently laying the back of the watch and the O ring aside, look inside the watch to see what sort of battery is required.  If your eyes are like mine, a magnifying glass will be of great use at this point. 
  6. Order the watch battery online, according to the number shown on the battery.  THERE IS NO NEED TO REMOVE THE BATTERY AT THIS TIME.  It will be a great help to have a tool to remove the battery when the time comes to do so, so you might order at the same time a set of Anti-Static Flat Tip Tweezers which will be of use for other things as well, especially building scale models.  The tweezers cost $4.73.  If you leave the back of the watch off while waiting to receive the battery, ensure that the watch is not somewhere where dust will get into it.
  7. When the battery arrives, you're ready to replace the dead battery.  Spend a bit of time looking at how the current battery sits in the watch before removing it, so that it's clear in your mind of how the new battery will be placed.  Then remove the dead battery, using the anti-static tweezers.
  8. Place the new battery in the watch. 
  9. If the O ring is dry, move it away from the watch workings and LIGHTLY lubricate it with the silicone grease.  A little grease goes a long way, and you do not want excess grease inside your watch.
  10. Place the O ring back where it was originally, and then screw the back onto the watch.  Use the wrench if necessary, but don't overtighten.
  11. Turn the watch over, see that it's working, set it to the right time, and sit back and bask in your newly-found sense of accomplishment.

One might protest, at this point, that I spent more on tools than I would have spent on battery replacement had I simply brought my watch to the mall.  This is undeniably true, but economy was never my chief concern.  Additionally, I am happy to report that I have since used said tools to replace a dead battery in another watch that I own.  Incidentally, the process went much more smoothly the second time around, probably because I had a good bit more confidence in what I was doing.  I personally, however, will never tell acquaintances that I can change watch batteries.  Good fences make good neighbors, and broken watch crystals probably end good friendships.


Copyright © D. J.McAdam· All Rights Reserved