Timepieces:Education & Repair
Looking for Trouble
You've changed the battery, but time stands still. Here's how to find
and solve the problem
by David A. Christianson,
Certified Master Watchmaker
You've replaced the battery and the watch still doesn't run. Now it's
time to test your sleuthing skills.
The approach differs, depending whether you have a quartz analog watch
or a digital. Here are some guidelines.
Diagnosing the Problem: Quartz
An electronic quartz watch analyzer will determine the problem without requiring
you to open the watch case. Analyzers cost $90 to $375 and are available
from watch supply companies. But many retailers don't have an analyzer,
so it's critical to know how to detect problems manually and which corrective
action to take.
The most common problem - after battery replacement - occurs when the
second hand jumps back and forth but does not advance. The new battery is
trying to drive the watch, but the gears are blocked. This is a sure sign
the watch needs to be cleaned. The inside of the watch can be contaminated
because of a leaky gasket, cracked crystal or dried lubricant (always clean
away any contaminents while replacing the battery).
Remove the case (see Professional Jeweler,March, p. 66) and clean
the inside with compressed air. Keep the air from the coil (brass-colored
wound wire). If the problem persists, refer it to your watchmaker or repair
Diagnosing the Problem: Digital
If the watch is digital, you have only a few options (after battery replacement),
and all require the services of a professional watch repairer:
- If the watch runs but you can't set the time or change functions, the
buttons may be filled with dirt and must be disassembled, cleaned and lubricated.
- If the contact switches that the buttons actuate are corroded, they
must be derusted or replaced.
- If the watch doesn't run, there are several possibilities. The AC must
be cleared (see Professional Jeweler,May, p. 102), or the battery
controls or internal contacts must be cleaned. Sometimes the electronic
circuit deteriorates, so the circuit or even the entire movement must be
Setting the Watch: Analog
Set the time and date before returning the watch. It's another attention
to detail the customer will appreciate.
If the watch has an hour and minute hand (or with a second hand), simply
pull out the crown and turn it to set the hands. If you can't pull out the
crown, don't grab it with pliers. The stem is likely rusted and/or the crown
is so packed with dirt it won't move. Refer this to your watch repairer.
Many water-resistant sport watches have a screwdown crown. Unscrew the
crown first before setting the time.
If the watch has a calendar, it probably has a two-position stem. Pull
the crown to the first click to activate the calendar setting. Pull to the
second click (all the way out) to set the hands.
If the watch has a day/date feature, turn the crown in one direction
to change the date, the opposite direction to change the day. With an older
watch, you may have to use the first position to change the date, but the
hands must be manually run around the dial a full 24 hours to change the
day. Some even older models require you to turn the hands to change the
date andthe day.
One very important point when setting an analog watch with a day or date:
turn the hands around the dial until the calendar changes. This establishes
midnight for the watch. Then count each hour to set the hands to the correct
time. Noon is 12 hours past midnight. To set for 2 p.m., turn the hands
past midnight, watch the date change, continue 12 more revolutions to noon
and then on to 2 o'clock.
It seems simple, but customers often don't know how to set their watches.
Your expertise in this simple procedure can establish their trust in you.
Setting the Watch: Digital
Digital watches can be difficult to set. In general, look for the "mode"
button, push it two or three times in succession and continue to hold down
this same button.
The watch is ready to set when the digits on the face start to flash.
Usually the hours flash first. Push one of the other buttons (often noted
as "set") to set the current hour. When the hour is set, push
the original "mode" button and the minutes flash. Follow the same
procedure for the month, date and day.
There are many variations in digital watch-setting procedures. If you're
not familiar with setting the watch, contact the supplier, your repair shop
or the nearest watchmaker.
David A. Christianson is fourth-generation owner of Christianson Jewelry,
Kendallville, IN. Address questions, suggestions and comments on his monthly
column to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia,
PA 19102, email to askus@ProfessionalJeweler.com.Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.