For those brand new to the world of watchmaking, the first step of watchmaking is removing the watch case back to access to parts. Watch case back removal tools are essential for any watch enthusiast or professional watchmaker, as they allow you to safely and effectively access the inner workings of a timepiece.
However, not all watch case backs are created equal and there are many variations with many different removal tools. In this guide, we will explore the different types of watch case backs, the reasons why you may need to remove them and the various tools available to accomplish this task. Whether you’re a complete novice or have some experience with watches, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and confidence to tackle watch case back removal with ease.
We will delve into the key components of a watch case back removal tool kit, including case back openers, case holders and specialized wrenches. You will learn about the importance of selecting the right tool for the specific watch you’re working on, considering factors such as case back type, material, and size.
By understanding the fundamentals of watch case back removal tools and techniques, you’ll be equipped to perform basic watch maintenance and battery replacements, saving you time and money. So let’s dive in and embark on this journey to master the art of removing watch case backs.
Why do Watchmakers Need Watch Case Back Removal Tools?
Watchmakers require watch case back removal tools for several important reasons. Firstly, watch case backs are designed to protect the delicate internal components of a watch, including the movement, dial, and hands. To access and perform any necessary repairs, maintenance, or battery replacements, watchmakers must remove the case back without causing any damage. Watch case back removal tools provide the necessary precision and control to safely open the case back without scratching or denting the watch.
Secondly, watch case backs come in various types and designs, such as screw-down, snap-on, or screw-off. Each type requires a specific tool or technique for removal. Watchmakers need a range of case back removal tools to cater to these different case back types, ensuring they can work on a wide variety of watches.
Furthermore, watch case back removal tools also allow watchmakers to properly secure the watch case during repair or maintenance procedures. Case holders, for example, keep the watch case in place, preventing it from slipping or rotating during the work. This stability is crucial for accurate and precise adjustments or replacements.
In summary, watch case back removal tools are crucial for watchmakers as they enable them to safely and efficiently access the internal components of a watch, work on different types of case backs, and ensure the watch remains securely positioned during repairs. These tools are essential for maintaining the integrity and longevity of a timepiece.
Different Watch CaseBacks and Their Removal Tools
There are 4 main styles of watch case back that you should be aware of:
The Snap Off Case Back and the Notched Screw Case Back are the most common but you are likely to come across all of them in your watchmaking journey. For each type of case back, different removal tools are needed to safely and easily remove it without scratching the watch or damaging the internal parts.
Alternative Tools for Snap Off Case Back Removal
While there are other watch case back removal tools available, I personally have not encountered the need for more industrial options thus far. These alternative tools cater to specific cases or situations that require a more robust approach, but in general watch maintenance tasks can be accomplished effectively with standard tools.
Once you have completed the necessary repairs or maintenance on the watch’s internals, snapping the case back on is a relatively straightforward process that does not require any additional tools. Proper alignment is key in this step. Ensure that the case back is correctly positioned, taking care to align any notches or grooves, typically present for accommodating the stem. Precise alignment guarantees a proper fit and avoids any potential issues.
To secure the case back, apply moderate force using your thumb and fingers between the case back and the watch’s front. A gentle squeeze is usually sufficient, and you should hear a reassuring clicking sound as the case back snaps back into place. After securing it, inspect the edges of the case back to ensure it is evenly aligned with the rest of the watch case.
Screw Off Case Back
The screw-off case back can be easily identified by its distinctive features including edges, grooves or threads resembling the edge of a coin, encircling the outer edge of the case back. Although I haven’t personally encountered this type of case back so far, it is commonly found on Rolex and Tudor watches, among others. These renowned brands often employ screw-off case backs for their timepieces.
However, due to the complexity associated with these high-end watches, it is important to recognize that there is much to learn to feel confident in disassembling such intricate mechanisms. Understanding the intricacies of dismantling and servicing watches with screw-off case backs requires a deeper level of expertise and knowledge. These timepieces demand meticulous attention and specialized skills to ensure their proper handling and maintenance.
Screw Off Case Back Removal Tools
Rolex Style Case Opener
This specialized tool is employed to remove screw-off case backs. These tools are equipped with multiple-sized bezels, allowing you to select the appropriate size that matches the case back. Once you have chosen the correct bezel, it is snapped onto the handle of the tool. By applying a twisting motion, the tool effectively unscrews the case back from the watch.
Case Back With Screws
Another type of case back commonly encountered is the screw-type case back, frequently found in digital watches, particularly Casio timepieces. Additionally, some modern mechanical watches also utilize this design. While my personal experience has been limited, I have observed screw-type case backs on Hamilton mechanical watches.
Digital watches, such as those from Casio, often incorporate screw-type case backs as a practical measure to enhance water resistance. The threaded screws provide a secure seal, protecting the watch’s internal components from moisture and ensuring durability in various conditions. This feature is especially important for outdoor and sports-oriented watches.
In the realm of mechanical watches, Hamilton has been known to employ screw-type case backs, showcasing a blend of traditional craftsmanship with contemporary elements. This design choice not only offers a distinct aesthetic but also adds an extra layer of protection to the intricate mechanical movements within.
While the prevalence of screw-type case backs may vary across different watch brands and models, their purpose remains consistent: to provide a secure closure and enhance the watch’s overall resilience. Understanding the nuances of handling and maintaining screw-type case backs is crucial for watch enthusiasts and professionals alike, as proper care ensures the longevity and optimal performance of these timepieces.
Case Back With Screws Removal Tools
A simple tool that is an essential part of the watchmaking process. To remove case backs secured with screws, a set of precision screwdrivers is the tool of choice. It is essential to select the appropriate size screwdriver to ensure a proper fit.
As a general rule, the width of the screwdriver tip should match the width of the screw head. This ensures optimal contact and minimizes the risk of stripping the screw, which can make removal challenging.
When purchasing screwdrivers for watch maintenance, it is advisable to opt for ones with replaceable blades. This feature enhances longevity, as worn or damaged blades can be easily replaced, extending the tool’s lifespan and maintaining its effectiveness.
Tips for Watch CaseBack Opener Tools
Familiarize Yourself with the Watch
Before attempting to remove the case back, take a moment to examine the watch and understand its construction. Identify any notches, grooves, or threads that may indicate the type of case back and inform your tool selection.
Choose the Right Tool
Ensure you have the appropriate case back removal tool for the specific type of case back you are working with, whether it’s a snap-off, screw-off, or specialized design. Different watches may require different tools, so having a variety on hand can be beneficial.
Invest in Your Sticky Friction Ball
Initially, I purchased a blue sticky friction ball at a low cost on eBay. However, upon receiving it, I discovered that it arrived deflated and lacked the necessary valve adaptor for inflation. This, coupled with the absence of a pump, prompted me to invest in a branded option – a Bergeon Sticky Friction Ball. Bergeon is a renowned Swiss manufacturer known for producing high-quality watch tools, albeit at a higher price point.
Purchase Phillips-Head Screwdrivers
It’s important to note that while the internal components of watch movements typically employ flat-headed screws, there may be instances where case backs are secured with Phillips-head screws. Therefore, it may be necessary to have both types of screwdriver sets on hand to accommodate the various screw head types encountered in watch servicing.
Test the Closure
After reattaching the case back, ensure it is securely tightened or snapped back into place. Check for any gaps or misalignment that may affect the watch’s water resistance or overall integrity.
How to Choose the Perfect Watch Back Opener Tools for Your Watchmaking Journey
Having a wide variety of case back removal tools at your disposal will make your watchmaking journey more streamlined. Some tools you can opt for a more affordable tool, however, spending a bit of money on your case back removal tools ensures that your case back is removed safely and easily.
If in doubt, splash the cash. High-quality tools from reputable brands offer durability, precision and improved performance, ensuring a safer and more efficient experience. It is also really beneficial to do some research prior to purchase.
Read reviews, watch tutorials and seek recommendations from experienced watchmakers or enthusiasts. Their insights and experiences can guide you toward trusted brands, specific models or tool kits that have proven effective in the watchmaking community.
Watch Case Back Opener Tools FAQ’s
Watch case back removal tools are crucial for watchmakers as they assist them in being able to quickly and easily access the internals of a watch movement in order to clean, service or repair it. They are essential for maintaining the integrity and longevity of a watch movement.
Although I would recommend against this in order to minimise any damage to a movement, if you are desperate then there are some options without the need for an expensive tool. Some common household options may be suitable alternatives. Depending on the watch movement, you may be able to pry off the back with something as simple as a razor blade, kitchen knife, rubber ball or pair of scissors.
A bike, ball or balloon pump should suffice as long as it has the needle adapter on the end. In my experience only the Burgeon sticky friction ball arrives pre-pumped.
If you think I’ve missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.