Taking your watch to the store to get the battery changed might not be an expensive trip but they usually charge you five to ten times more than what the battery itself costs, for a five minute job. Next time your watch dies, try changing the battery yourself, you’ll save money and learn a new trick while you’re busy, it really is a quick and simple job.
NB – If your watch is still under warranty then please check with your supplier whether they allow you to do your own work on it. Some manufacturers will not honour the warranty if the watch has been opened by others.
What You Will Need To Change Your Watch Battery
- A Blunt Knife or Small Flat Screwdriver
- Replacement Battery (Get this using the old one as a sample, details in steps below)
- A Magazine or Newspaper
Changing the Watch Battery
Start off by placing your watch face down on a magazine or newspaper, the paper will prevent the screen from getting scratched while you work on it.
The images here are shown with the newspaper removed as the print distracts from the detail of the image.
Watches typically have one of three types of covers, covers secured with screws, a screw on cover (the whole back cover turns into place) or a snap on cover. Snap on covers are by far the most popular covers on modern watches as they’re generally cheaper for the manufacturer to produce, followed by screw on covers.
You can tell the difference by looking at the back cover of the watch. Covers secured with screws will obviously have a number of screws around the perimeter. Screw on covers usually have a pattern of notches (typically 6-8) equally spaced around the outer perimeter of the cover which allows a tool to grab the cover and turn it. Snap on covers have a small overlap or lip somewhere around the perimeter under which a tool is used to lift the cover off.
This tutorial will focus on snap on covers since these are the most common. To remove a cover with screws, use a small screw driver to remove all of the screws and the cover should come free. To remove a screw off cover, a long nosed pliers can usually be used, put the two tips of the pliers into opposite notches and press the watch down to grip the cover and then turn the cover off. With the correct technique, it is also quite easy to remove these covers.
For a snap on cover, you’ll first you need to locate the lip on the back cover. Now use a very small flat screwdriver or a blunt knife and wedge the tip or blade underneath the cover and push down, as a lever, to snap it up.
You will now see a plastic spacer/protection cover which is used to absorb shock and prevent the mechanism from moving around within the case. This cover fits snugly over the mechanism and can be pulled off using the tip of a knife, screwdriver or tweezers, being careful not to touch any part of the mechanism or you may damage it. Pick the cover up near the edges and be careful not to break any portion of the mechanism when you lift it up.
The battery should now be clearly visible. It will be held in place with two metal clips overlapping its edges. One of these clips is part of the mechanism cover and is fixed and the other will be able to move away from the battery in order for it to pop out. Again, with the tip of a knife or tweezers, pull the clip away from the battery so that it pops free and then pull it out of the mechanism. The arrow in the picture below shows the moving catch.
Take the battery with you to your nearest hardware store or often a pharmacist to get a replacement. Alternatively write the number on the top of the battery down and they should be able to identify it from that, for example 377 etc. The number is usually the biggest number stamped onto the top (flat) face of the battery.
Once you have a replacement battery, pull the battery clip back again and insert the battery into the mechanism. The watch should now be ticking again. If it is not ticking then the battery is either installed incorrectly (possibly upside down) or the mechanism is broken. Make sure that you battery is installed in the same orientation it was before you took it out, typically with the flat side or side with the + on it facing outwards towards the back cover.
Now replace the plastic insert, check that the slot in the insert aligns with the adjustment screw. Be gentle when replacing it to ensure that you don’t damage any part of the mechanism.
Finally you need to replace the back cover. The cover just needs to be seated correctly and then snapped into place. With some watches, this can simply be done by pressing it in with your thumbs while others will require more force. If you can’t push it together with your fingers then lie the watch face down on newspaper, place the flat part of a rubberised spanner arm over the back cover and press down slowly with your body weight until you hear it pop into place. Make sure that the cover is in the correct position before applying pressure onto it otherwise it might get bent or permanently damage the lip of the cover.
Reset the time and your watch is ready now to wear again.
Was this guide helpful? Do you have any tips and tricks which we haven’t included? Let us know in the comments section below and we’ll include them.
Nice article. Very informative
I have only ever seen one different size battery, in a Gucci watch I inherited, but that was made in the 80’s. So if you think your quartz watch may be quite old, check the battery before you buy (it will be stamped on the battery itself in 99% of cases. If it’s not, measure the battery and buy the corresponding type).
Thank you. This was a very helpful article, especially with the detailed photo and arrow of the battery clip.
The STRADA watch do not have a overlap or lip, is smooth all the way. How can you open this thing?
If there is no overlap or lip are there perhaps indents for a three or four point tool to screw the cover off the back?
My watch is a screw on/off. I replaced the battery and then went to put it back together and there is a spring that sticks out of the watch and appears to be a contact point for the watch and the cover and the battery has a tongue that sticks our towards the cover. The watch has a brass plate that looks like was made to be over the battery tongue under the cover. I have tried putting the cover on but the watch doesn’t start. What do you think I am doing wrong? I appreciate your help.
Without seeing the back of the watch, what you’re describing sounds like the piezo element or speaker which is used to generate tones or beeps from your watch. The element should have some markings on it which you can use to identify where the original spring and tongue made contact with it and try line these up when you put it back on, otherwise, the speaker won’t work anymore.
That being said, this shouldn’t have anything to do with the operation of the watch. The watch should come on when you replace the battery, regardless of the speaker being connected. Are you sure that the battery is properly seated, is the correct way around and that the contacts to the bottom and the top/side are correctly seated and making contact with the battery?
What is a rubberized spanner arm? A photo of one in use to snap a cover back on would have been helpful.
It’s a spanner with a rubberized grip on it, like a plastic/rubber handle.
Thanks for the tip, I’ll try to find a photo of one to put up.
LOL. I’m not even sure what a spanner is. I had not heard/read of such a tool until I started researching watch repair.
My watch doesn’t have a “groove” or a “notch” or any such thing to pry the back off. No screws either. How can I get the back off? Is that maybe a marketing tool to make you buy a new watch? The brand is Studio from Belk. Inexpensive watch.
Im not sure, I can’t seem to find your watch online. Do you have a link to it? I’ve never heard of a manufacturer making a watch unopenable. They usually do make it difficult though, so that you are forced to come in and pay an extortionate amount for a replacement battery.
Thank you for your reply. The name is actually Studio Time. The word “Time” is written vertically and very very small. But I couldn’t find a manufacturer website for that either. Only the stores that sell them.
It is strange that the back cover is completely smooth all the way around. Maybe you have to have a “special” tool to remove it.
I’ll try going back to the actual store of purchase and see what they say. Thanks again for your help!