Knowledge Base

How to Remove a Stubborn Watch Back

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Jacky Chou

How to Remove a Stubborn Watch Back

You may not have tried it, but is sometimes tricky to remove your watch backs. Likewise, removing a watch back wrongly may end up damaging the timepiece itself. 

It is usually better to have a professional work on the watch especially when it is something that you have to do in the back of the watch. They have specialized tools that make removal easy, keeping the watch in shape.

If you keep reading this piece, removing a stubborn watch back wouldn’t be much of a challenge to you anymore either.

Types of Watch Backs

All wristwatches don’t have the same back cover design. Hence, the way to remove a stubborn watch back won’t be the same for all watches. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of watch backs:

Different types of watch backs and how to open them

Screw watch backs

The screw-down watch backs are the most common option in the watch market today. As the name implies, this watch back has, at least, four screws holding it.

Be careful when removing the screws so that you don’t nick and scar the back. For this operation, you may need either an opener with two or three prongs.

The watch back opener with three prongs gives you more flexibility than the former, especially if you’re dealing with a firm watch back.

Typically, a screw-down watch back comes in two types: flat and hexagonal.

To remove the watch back on a flat screw watch back, you’ll need a correlating screwdriver. With the screwdriver, remove the screws and pull up the back with the tip of the tool.

For hexagonal screws, a corresponding key set will get the job done. Your fingers alone are good enough to pry the back off once you get all the screws removed.

Pressured watch back

Most watches with pressured backs have a small opening across the top. This opening is wide enough for a fingernail or knife edge to get in. All you have to do is to pull it out.

The adhesive in this type of watch isn’t solid, so when you pull, you’ll override the adhesive force. Usually, you hear a pop sound when you pull.

Removing the watch back is usually not the problem. You may need a kitchen tool like a knife to remove. Sometimes, even your fingers can do the job.

If your fingers or knife don’t work, you can immerse the watch in alcohol before trying. This is not something I would recommend since there is a tendency to damage the watch this way.

While removal may be easy for a pressured wristwatch, fixing the cover when you are done is challenging. Like me, you may think a good glue should fix it up but that may end up spoiling the watch.

Some people advise you to use an eye instance press to have it fixed. I’ll strongly advise that you don’t attempt removing a pressured watch back by yourself. If you still have plans of wearing the wristwatch again, that is.

Tips to Remove Stubborn Watch Backs

Irrespective of the type of watch back you’re dealing with, the approaches below should work well for you. Choose an appropriate method, depending on the kind of watch back you are dealing with.

Using your thumbnail

You may be trying complex methods to open a watch back when all you need is the nail on your thumb. Yes, some wristwatches are very easy to open with your thumb. Here are some of the steps to follow:

  • Step 1: Examine the watch back for the hinge –  it should look like a small hole on the back.
  • Step 2: Insert your fingernails into the small hole of the hinge and pull gently. If your nails can’t fit in, a small knife blade can replace them. Pull gently, and within a few minutes, it should come off.

Using a rubber ball

Rubber balls may be widely regarded as toys, but they can come in handy sometimes. To use a rubber ball to remove your stubborn watch backs, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Get a soft and stretchy rubber ball. You can use a stress ball if you already have one, as long as its flexible.
  • Step 2: Place the watch on any flat table. It’s not impossible to hold the watch in your hands, but a table is better.
  • Step 3: Place the ball on the watch back and apply enough pressure.
  • Step 4: With a firm grip, turn the ball in an anticlockwise motion. This should loosen the watch back. Once you have it loosened from the screws, you can remove the watch back.

Using Scissors

Scissors can also be the trick when you’re trying to unscrew a watch back. Here’s the process:

  • Step 1: Pick good scissors (but not too sharp).
  • Step 2: Find the screws on the watch back. Put the watch on a flat table to be safe.
  • Step 3: Place one end of the scissors on each notch and turn in an anticlockwise motion. This should easily pull out the watch back from the screws.

How to Remove Watch Back Without Notches

If your watch doesn’t have notches holding the watch back, then it’s probably easier or harder to remove. If it’s easier, then your thumbnail or a razor blade is the best way to remove the watch back.

However, if that doesn’t work, you may need to go deep into hot water to reduce the glue’s grip.

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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