Tool Chest

January 1999

Timepieces:Education & Repair

Tool Chest

Here are the basic tools needed to replace batteries – and how to use them

By David Christianson
President, American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute

We've covered how to replace watch batteries in previous columns. Now let's be sure the tools you need are on hand when your customer arrives in search of efficient battery replacement. More importantly, be sure you know how to use each basic tool.

To Open the Case
A bench knife for snap-on case backs.
Operation: Twist the knife upward as you press into the case back notch. If the bench knife is too thick, try an X-acto knife. Don't let the knife slip into the movement.

Tool: A case wrench for screw-on backs; a 1.5mm Phillips screwdriver for backs with screws.
Operation: Open using even pressure against the case back. If the case back resists, place it in a case vise and apply even, downward pressure.

Changing the Battery
A 1mm straight screwdriver removes most battery clamp screws.
Operation: Protect the coil of the watch by holding a tweezer between the screwdriver and the coil.

Tool: Plastic tweezers.
Operation: Handle all batteries with plastic tweezers because metal will short some life out of a new battery, and fingers cause corrosion inside the watch. Push the battery in with a fingertip covered with plastic film, watch tissue or finger cot.

To Check the Battery
Battery tester and quartz analyzer (often on the same device).

Operation: Simple testers analyze the energy remaining in the battery. When your customer hands you the watch, remove the battery and place it in the tester. Look up the battery on your battery chart and select high or low drain as indicated (see box). If the tester shows low voltage, replace it. If the tester shows it's OK, advise the customer the battery isn't the main problem. If you have a quartz watch analyzer in your store, perform the test as indicated in the following paragraph. Otherwise, refer the customer to a watch repair service or a watchmaker.

After installing the battery, be sure the second hand operates. If not, place the watch on a quartz watch analyzer (see photograph) and listen for a "tick." If you hear nothing or the second hand fluctuates back and forth, the battery is not the only problem: the watch needs the attention of a watch repair shop or your watchmaker.


Batteries are either high drain or low drain (marked on the packages).Low-drain models are recommended for watches that have no light, alarm or LCD. High-drain batteries are essential for watches with a light, alarm or LCD. Battery charts available from your supplier or the American Clockmakers-Watchmakers Institute (513-367-9800) will show which type you have by model number.

David Christianson is a fourth-generation owner of Christianson Jewelry, Kendallville, IN. In addition to serving as president of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute, he is a certified master watchmaker and a fellow of the British Horological Society. He discusses watch repair for the sales staff in this column each month. Questions, suggestions and comments can be sent toProfessional Jeweler,1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102; e-mail

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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