Knowledge Base

How to interchange watch hands

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Written by:

Jacky Chou

How to interchange watch hands. It is a simple process that anyone can do with the proper tools.


Most modern watches have three hands: the hour hand, the minute hand, and the second hand. But some watches, especially older ones, may have only two hands—the hour and minute hands. On these watches, the second hand is usually absent (or, on very rare occasions, hidden away behind a solid dial).

If your watch has only two hands, don’t worry—it’s not broken. In fact, it might be a actually be a more accurate timepiece than one with a second hand! Here’s why:

The reason most watches have three hands is that they make it easier to read the time. With three hands, you can quickly glance at your watch and see exactly how many hours, minutes, and seconds have passed. But with two hands, you can only see the hours and minutes.

This might not seem like a big deal, but if you’re trying to time something (like cooking a meal or timing yourself in a race), having that extra level of precision can be helpful.

Of course, if you just want to know what time it is and don’t need to worry about seconds, then a two-handed watch is perfectly fine. In fact, some people prefer the simpler design of a two-handed watch. And if your watch is an heirloom piece or an antique, it’s probably best to leave it as-is rather than trying to interchange the hands yourself.

What You Need

-A watch with removable hands
-A watch hand removal tool, or a thin, blunt object like a toothpick
-A soft cloth or bowl of rice

1. Remove the battery from your watch. This will prevent the watch from accidentally ticking and scratching the dial as you work.
2. Refer to your watch’s owner’s manual to determine the best way to remove the case back. Some watches have a lever on the side of the case that can be pried up with a fingernail; others require a special tool to remove the case back.
3. Once the case back is removed, locate the hand-removal lever on the face of the watch movement. The lever is usually located near the center of the movement, and may be hidden under one of the hands.
4. If you cannot find the hand-removal lever, consult your owner’s manual or take your watch to a jewelry store or watch repair shop for assistance.
5. Insert the end of the hand-removal tool (or toothpick) into the hole next to the hand-removal lever, and push down on Lever A in Figure 1 below. As you push down on Lever A, pull out on Lever B with your other hand (see Figure 2). This will release one end of the hand so that it can be removed from its shaft.
6. Gently pull out on the released end of the hand until it is completely removed from its shaft (see Figure 3). Note that you may have to wiggle or rock the hand back and forth slightly as you pull it out in order to release it from its snug fit on the shaft. Be careful not to bend or damage any of the parts as you remove them.
7. Repeat Steps 5 through 7 for each remaining hand on your watch dial.
8. To install new hands, simply reverse these instructions, being careful not to bend or damage any of parts as you replace them

Step One: Remove the Old Hands

Use your watch case knife or a small, flat screwdriver to remove the orientation screws (if present) from the face of your watch. If your watch has a pressure fit back, open the case and remove the old hands. Gently pull each hand off the central axis, taking care to note which hand goes on which side of the watch. On most watches, the shorter hand is the hour hand and goes on the left side of the watch, but this is not always the case. If you are unsure, consult a professional before proceeding.

Step Two: Install The New Hands
Install the new hands in the same position as the old ones, being careful not to bend or damage them. Replace any orientation screws you removed in step one and close your watch case.

Step Two: Install the New Hands

Once you have the new hands, it’s time to install them. For this task, you will need a watch hand press (or a pair of tweezers). Start by holding the minute hand by the post, and carefully aligning it with the center of the watch face. Once it is lined up, use the watch hand press (or your tweezers) to apply pressure to the end of the hand, and push it onto the post. Be careful not to bend the hand as you are doing this.

Next, do the same thing with the hour hand. Make sure that both hands are pointing in the correct direction before you move on to step three.

Step Three: Set the Time and Replace the Battery
With the new battery installed and both hands pointing in the correct direction, it’s time to set the time on your watch. To do this, simply pull out the crown (the knob on the side of the watch), and turn it until the time is correct. Once you have set the time, push the crown back into place. And that’s it! Your watch is now repaired and good as new.

Step Three: Check the New Hands

Once the new hands are mounted on the dial, it is important to make sure that they are properly positioned and functioning. With the watch face down, look through the crystal at the hands and make sure that they are pointing in the correct direction and are not blocking each other. You may need to slightly adjust their positions. Also, be sure that the second hand is securely attached to the center post. If it is not, the hand will spin but not move smoothly around the dial. Once you have checked and double-checked all of the positions, screw in the crown, being careful not to over-tighten it, and you are ready to go!


We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to interchange watch hands. As you can see, it’s not a difficult process, and it’s something that anyone can do with a little bit of practice. Just remember to take your time and be careful, and you’ll be swapping hands like a pro in no time.

Jacky Chou

Jacky Chou is the co-founder of Uberwrists and has gotten into watches from his father from a young age. His first watch was a black G Shock that was comedically large for his wrist. He appreciates watches from Seiko to a Patek Philippe.

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