February 1998

Timepieces: Education & Repair





Timepieces can be damaged during a routine battery change.Make sure your staff knows the right way. In this first of a series of basic watch repair columns, Master Watchmaker David A. Christianson explains the function of the watch case


In many jewelry stores, the task of changing watch batteries is delegated to the sales staff. But too often the instruction is cursory, even with a professional watchmaker on staff. To help your staff with this common but often inadequately performed task, let's examine the first steps toward changing quartz watch batteries more efficiently and without costly errors.


Watch Case Basics

The watch case houses and protects the delicate and intricate quartz watch movement. Depending on the construction of the case, it can protect against ambient dust or even submersion in water if the case is well sealed. The case consists of a clear lens (or crystal) over the dial (see illustration), a case band or case frame (the main frame of the case) and a caseback that allows access to the inner movement (the actual workings of the watch). The hand-setting knob and linkage are called a crown and stem. They extend through the case frame and into the movement.

The crystal, case frame, crown and caseback must remain intact to protect the movement from contamination. The least bit of contamination can cause the watch to stop and require the expertise of a professional watchmaker to clean and relubricate the movement.

Most quartz watches have a thin rubber seal or gasket sealing the crown and caseback to the main case frame. The crystal is sealed with a gasket, cement or friction pressure, depending on the case and crystal design. Any cracked, stretched, hardened or loose gasket needs to be replaced to keep the integrity of the case intact. While these procedures are done by your store's watchmaker, every staff member who handles timepieces should learn these basics.

The Two Cases

Before opening a watch case, you must clean any contaminants off the caseback. Wipe with a soft cloth or clean with a stiff bristle brush or a brass brush, depending on the accumulation of contaminants.

There are two basic watch cases:

  • One is snapped into the case frame.
  • One is screwed into the frame.

Next month: We'll look at opening the two types of cases and battery basics.


David A. Christianson is fourth-generation owner of Christianson Jewelry, Kendallville, IN. He is director and first vice president of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute, where he chairs its Education, Library and Museum Charitable Trust. He is a certified master watchmaker and a fellow of the British Horological Society.

Christianson will discuss watch repair in this Professional Jeweler column each month. Questions, suggestions and comments can be sent to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1201, Philadelphia, PA 19102; e-mail askus@ProfessionalJeweler.com.



The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute promotes education for watch retailers with classes and workshops nationwide. For information and schedules, contact Jim Lubic, education and technical director, AWI, 701 Enterprise Drive, Harrison, OH 45030; (513) 367-9800, www.awi-net.org.


Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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