How to remove a stubborn watch back

HOW TO REMOVE A STUBBORN WATCH BACK – WOW!

For most watch enthusiasts or connoisseurs if you will, a watch with anything less than a screw-on back isn’t worth mentioning.

Like cars with hubcaps as opposed to alloy rims, or jeans with button-up fronts as opposed to zippers, experts, as they like to call themselves, have their standards of what makes a sound product. 

On watches and all things time-sensitive, how would one go about wasting less time trying to pry open a watch, and more time enjoying… time?

Fixing a watch requires more than tweaking a stuck back and prying away a lodged battery.

Removing a stubborn back depends on a few design-related factors, such as screw-down types, others with screws to hold them down( the two will be explained), and Snap-On cases. 

These designs require adequate tools, some of which are readily accessible within most households.

Let’s take a look at some surefire ways to get that stuck back off your watch – safely

How to Open A Screw-Down Watch Back – No Screws

This is not the most common watch back out there. The design seems to resemble a Snap-On, but it requires the actual back, to be turned left or right to screw it on.

When these backs stay closed for too long (which might happen if you have a long-lasting battery), they become a tad annoying to open. 

Turning lefty-loosey doesn’t work, in which case you either need a professional or a workshop.

Place the case, carefully, onto a vice. Use a socket wrench, of the proper size, if one is available, and stick it firmly on the back of the watch.

Try prying it slowly, remembering not to have too-tight a grip with the vice. The socket wrenches should fit snugly onto the sides of the watch back, which usually should boast a few tiny openings or plugs.

Here’s the catch, and perhaps what makes this a trial-and-error approach. Chances are, the wrench will not fit on the watch, due to size, or design, which forces you to try some superglue.

Yes, take a little bit of super glue and apply it on the bottom part of the wrench, and a little on the watch back. 

Place the wrench on the watch back and wait a few minutes for the glue to stick. After two, maybe three minutes, try unscrewing the watch back, using the wrench. It should come loose with minimal effort, and minimum damage, if any.

Using a Rubber Ball to Remove a Screw-Down Watch Back 

As you would with the palm of your hand, it is possible to unscrew a watch back with something really dry, like a rubber ball.

Ensure the ball isn’t wet, and it is not easily squeezable either. Having it rugged, as opposed to squishy means it will sustain your grip, and you can push on it as you attempt to loosen it. 

Remember lefty-loosey, righty-tighty, is the easiest way to ensure you are not struggling to open it while tightening it.

If it is taking longer than expected, pour some oil between the watch back and watch itself.

Try squeezing the ball onto the back hard enough (to the left), watching for movement. With time, the cover should begin to open up 

Prying Open a Snap-on Stuck Watch Back 

A snap-on is the easiest and most common form of back found on a watch and is sometimes considered of the cheaper variety.

This could not be further from the truth, as the best watches are made with Snap-on backs precisely so it is easier to remove them when the need arises. 

Snap-On watch backs will always have a small opening for you to insert a screwdriver or letter opener to pry it open.

A stuck, Snap-on watch back may have that opening worn off, from too many attempts to open it, which requires some finesse to get it to open. 

Using glue can work wonders. Stick some glue onto a spanner, or socket wrench, and a little more onto the watch back.

When the glue dries, pull the watch back off using the socket wrench, and once off, use nail polish remover to clean your wrench and the watch cover.

This last approach is a guaranteed method of removing the cover, with no damage to the rest of the watch. 

Things to watch out for with Stuck Watch Backs 

What if a Screw-Down Back Doesn’t Unscrew?

A screw-down is similar to a Snap-On in some ways, except for the threads. If you have a vice, try gripping it tightly and lifting the back using a screwdriver. This approach requires finesse and lots of patience. 

What about Watch Backs with Screws? 

Some watches have screws holding down the back, and with time, if you haven’t felt the need to open the back, they may get jammed too. Attempting to pry open a watch back with screws will damage the back, housing, and the screws. Take it to a professional to cut them off and replace the watch if necessary/applicable. 

Do Types of Watch Backs Determine Quality of the Watch? 

A Snap-On watch back can be found on the most expensive watch, and screws located on a gold-plated timepiece. Choosing a watch should never be based on the watch back, which, in any case, can always be replaced if need be. Pick a watch based on the quality of the timepiece, not the watch back. 


Conclusion 

Taking off watch backs requires finesse for several reasons, the number one reason being the intricacies inside the bezel.

If you simply pry open a timepiece, especially while frustrated, you will get the watch back off, and all the pieces inside too.

These pieces are not as easy to put back in place. Be meticulous in every approach you use to remove your watch.

Removing a watch back should take no more than ten minutes, regardless of how stuck the cover is, and patience is a virtue in this instance. 

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