The Beginners' Guide to Watch Battery Replacement
There comes a time in the life of every wristwatch where the battery has to be changed. Well, if it is a quartz unit, that is.
This is one of the most routine wristwatch maintenance tricks that you can learn to do yourself. Depending on the cost of the watch and the complexity of the movement, though, you might want to seek out an experienced watch repair center to get this done for you.
In this guide, we discuss all that you need to know about watch battery replacements – whether as a DIY or you're going with a professional repairer.
Can I change the battery in my watch?
The first thing will be to determine your wristwatch movement. We have a guide to the most common watch movements here for you to look at.
Before you look at that guide, though, look at your unit's packaging and the manufacturer-provided information. There should already be some details on what kind of watch movement the timepiece you have at hand is using.
As a last resort, remove the case back to see if there is a little battery somewhere there.
If you are doing this at home, try the following steps:
- Remove the watch from your wrists/ the storage compartment.
- Get a small knife if you do not have a wristwatch servicing kit.
- Gently place the knife's sharp end against the base of the case on the watch back.
- Lift the case back ever so gently to reveal the watch movement and engine
- Look for the small battery. You won't have to look for long to find it.
- For watches with screws, they are usually small ones that you can remove with the aid of the small knife tip too. If you have a small screwdriver, all the better.
Sometimes, you might just have to secure the watch battery into its slot better. A mistake during manufacturing (which doesn't happen at Nordgreen, though, given our stringent quality control process) or a bump during usage could have caused the battery to shift in its slot.
If that doesn't work, then it might be time to replace the battery cell itself.
Where can I go to get a battery watch replaced?
Depending on the kind of watch you have, where you are in the world, and your preferences, there are quite many options to pursue a new battery.
Some of the best approaches you can take are as detailed below:
If you are in the same region as the wristwatch's manufacturer, check if they have a service center around.
Such a change could still be covered under your warranty so they can help you get it done for free – or a fraction of the price. This information could sometimes be found online or in the documents that shipped with your wristwatch.
The best part of the deal here is that they know much more about the timepiece than you since they were the ones who produced it in the first place. Thus, they have the correct type of tools for changing the batteries in the fastest time.
To better this option, your watch manufacturer will give you a new one if they mess up the service. So, what do you have to lose?
P.S. When a watchmaker is not near you, search online for their returns and repair policy. They might just have one that allows you to ship the watch in for repairs.
This is not advisable on low-end to mid-tier watches as you could spend up to half the cost of the wristwatch itself in shipping, service, and repairs. For high-end watches, though, the cost is justified.
Licensed watch repairers
If you don't have your watch brand around you, that's no problem still.
Check around to see if you have licensed watch shops in the area. Bonus points if you find a repairer that has been licensed by the brand type of your watch. They could even be able to offer you those warranty services on changing your watch batteries.
Replacing the battery on your watches is no big deal if you know what you are doing.
You might need some specialty tools like a screwdriver and some tweezers, but you can always find close alternatives to them in the home.
You only have to make sure you know what you are doing (we will get to that in a bit), order a new battery of the same type and rating as the former one, and you are good to go.
DIY methods allow you to appreciate all the good work that went into your machine better. Not only that, but you also get confident in taking your watch apart and putting it back together without hassles.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair A Watch Battery?
Like every other question that we have answered here, this also depends.
The replacement cost follows which method from above you adopt.
Choosing to get a new watch battery and fixing it yourself will cost considerably less. All you have to do is order the new battery, open up the watch cover, fix it in, and you are good to go. Thus, we would say that the only cost incurred here is from ordering the battery.
When you go with a licensed watch shop, you have to pay not only for the new battery but for the expertise too. These people had to buy their tweezers, screwdrivers, and every other tool, got a license and got trained too – so there is no way you are not being charged for that.
Finally, there are also additional costs associated with letting the official watch manufacturer replace the battery themselves.
Even if the watch were under warranty, you might still need to ship the unit to them to get the new watch battery fixed.
That said, examine what kind of watch you have.
A simple quartz watch can have its battery changed for $10 or less. Move on to a water-resistant piece, and you can spend anywhere between $45 - $60. This is because after the dead battery is traded for the new one, the service shop has to reseal the watch and pressure-test it, among other things.
When your watch has acute complications under the hood, prepare to spend between $65 - $95 for a battery change.
Remember that these numbers are just averages and not etched in stone. You can pay considerably lesser or slightly more for your watch battery service, all depending on your timepiece.
How to change a watch battery
Already, we have established that you're most likely working with a quartz watch here. That said, we have detailed a step-by-step guide to change the watch battery yourself.
What you'll need
- A set of tweezers
- A small knife/other sharp tools
- A new replacement battery
P.S. You won't need ALL of the tools mentioned above. Depending on the kind of quartz watch and back cover, we have detailed how to get to the watch batteries and which tools you'll need around each process.
Replacing the Battery
For a conventional quartz watch
- First, get the watch and turn it face down. Use a properly cleaned workspace so that the watch crystal doesn't suffer scratches.
- Scan the back of the watch for a small hole/ gap. The manufacturer leaves this there to make opening the watch back easier
- Fit a sharp tool that can fit into this gap. You can use a pair of tweezers strong enough to pry the watch back cover open or opt for a small knife or small screwdriver tip. The watch back should be firmly pressed down, so make sure the small tool is strong enough to withstand bending damage.
- Once you remove the watch back case, you should be face-to-face with the old battery.
- With your set of tweezers or the small flat knife, remove the old battery away from the watch engine.
- In most cases, small metallic clips are holding the battery in place. Use your tweezers to gently pry them up. Not too much, though, lest they break off.
- Replace the old battery with the new one.
- While holding the watch back firmly, look at the watch face to confirm that the battery is indeed working.
- Replace the watch cover. If there are teeth on the watch case, make sure to snap it in place with the corresponding holes on the watch frame.
- Set the correct time, and you are good to go.
For quartz watches with screws
- Locate the screws on the back of your watch
- Find a suitable screwdriver that works with the screws.
- Gently remove all the screws on the back of the watch, store them safely, and get the case back open
- Continue with the other watch battery replacement steps discussed above (pointers 5-8)
- Replace the watch screws and secure them tightly to the watch
- Set the time, and you are good to go.
For Swatch quartz watches
- On the watch back, you should find an indentation. These slots are big enough that you don't have to look for them at all.
- Get a coin (a quarter usually works fine here) to slot into the indentation. If the quarter doesn't work, find a penny or dime coin
- With the coin secured in the indentation, rotate it counter-clockwise. This should remove the back of the watch from the complete watch frame.
- Follow pointers 5-8 in the first set of instructions to get the new batteries in.
- Replace the watch case back. Slot the coin back into the indentation and rotate properly to give a full clockwise motion now. Else it might not lock in place.
- Set the time, and you are good to go.
Don'ts of DIY Watch Battery Replacement
As fun as it is to replace your watch batteries yourself, you can also make a mess of the whole thing in mere seconds.
Among other top mistakes, make sure to avoid these.
1. Banging the Watch Battery Off
You might get the urge to slap the open watch back aggressively against your palms so that the old battery falls off. Do not make that mistake.
The watch engine and movement are so delicate that if it is not properly treated, it might just give up on you there and then. You don't want to do any damage and blame yourself for opening the watch in the first place.
Done properly, replacing the watch battery should not take you more than 10 – 15 minutes anyway, so you don't have to rush any part of the process.
2. Pressing the watch case down wrongly
We have discussed different watch case back types and how to get them off up there.
Still, you should take note of replacing these cases properly also.
Even the case with screws will sometimes have set teeth that align with the watch case in different places. Make sure to set the back case correctly before you press it down at all. Else, you risk damaging not just this back case but some of the watch internals too.
Done right, it should snap back in place with a snug fit.
3. Using bad tools
There is a reason why we chose unconventional tools for this list. They are the tools that you can mostly find around you, so you don't have to worry about damaging the watch.
However, you can still use bad tools in some instances.
For example, using a smaller screwdriver to pry the watch back open could mess with the screws so much that their threads start wearing away. Such damages make it almost impossible to work on the watch in the future since the back just won't come off.
That, and you could have a hard time setting the screws back right after replacing the watch batteries.
4. Wrong battery placements
At the point of removing the watch case back, check how the batteries are placed in the watch engine.
This saves you from making the wrong connection here.
Likewise, two watches that you might have in your collection might not be similar. That one watch has its batteries placed face-down does not mean that's what works for the other watch. Even if the watches are from the same manufacturer, still check to ensure the right placement before you remove the old unit.
5. Wrong battery selection
That two watches are similar does not mean that they are using the same batteries. Your watchmaker would most likely use lithium-grade batteries for the watch engine, but even lithium batteries that look the same might not be similar in any way.
Make sure to look at the rating on the old unit before ordering new batteries. Else, you might give your watch a battery that is not good enough or one that supplies more power than it needs. Either way, it's not good news.
What Are the Best Replacement Batteries for My Watch?
The kind of chemistry and cells in a watch battery determines not only how long the battery will last but how well it performs also.
There are two cell types to consider here.
On a silver oxide and alkaline battery, for example, the cell is rated at 1.5 volts, and the watch will lose power faster. The same is not true for, say, a lithium-ion battery that contains a 3-volt cell instead.
That does not mean that the lithium cell lasts twice as long as the silver oxide and alkaline cell, but it takes around 15-20% on average to die.
An important consideration to make here, though, is that of size. For all the good that the lithium cell batteries bring to the table, they are also known for being larger than the other options.
Thus, you should check with your watch manufacturer's guide/ old batteries to know which kind of replacement battery is best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should a watch battery last?
It is typical to get as much as 3-4 years on average but watch batteries can easily last into the fifth year or more.
However, there is a caveat. Those impressive numbers can only be gotten on the original batteries that come with your timepiece. Move to the replacement watch batteries, and you are looking at about one to two years instead.
Likewise, the storage condition of the watch batteries will affect the longevity feature. If you store a silver oxide battery at above room temperature, for example, you risk losing some 10% of its power yearly.
On average, lithium batteries will perform better than other types you might consider using.
For a more detailed answer, take your watch to a licensed local repair shop to know how long the battery should last on average.
What if the watch doesn't work after battery replacement?
This could boil down to several reasons.
On the one hand, it could be that you have chosen the wrong battery or the right battery is not properly clamped down into place. Also, ensure that the watch battery is set the right way else the engine won't recognize the presence of a new battery – and you could end up damaging the slot.
Likewise, it could be that your watch has stopped from other causes. The engine of the watch could be faulty and in need of a change, causing your watch hands to stop functioning.
This time, it is better you take the watch to a repair shop and get it properly fixed.
What size battery does my watch take?
Unless we see the watch itself, we cannot make a correct assessment on this one.
You would have to open up the watch to determine the right size for the battery.
Replacing a watch battery is no harder than this.
If you feel that you can do things yourself, get the right tools as we have discussed and use them. Otherwise, see if you can get the right repairers online or in your locale. For a more specialized watch, ship the unit to the manufacturer, so you don't damage anything.
With that, you are good to go, and your watch would soon come out as good as new.