DIY is a southern tradition. Whatever it is, we will cut it, weld it, paint it, glue it, bake it or fake it, so long as it saves us a dollar. Ingenuity is an admirable quality, which should never be applied to watch repair.
In the event that your watch breaks or requires adjustment, your immediate reaction may be to channel your inner Nikola Tesla. This is a very bad idea, unless you are Nikola Tesla (You aren’t). Often we are confronted by customers who have attempted their own repairs, only to exacerbate the problem and increase the expense of repair. A dead battery becomes a dead battery and a broken crystal, a bent stem becomes a broken movement.
Many watch repairs are surprisingly difficult, requiring years of experience, precision instruments, patience and delicate parts. In fact, this field of work is so laborious that it has become increasingly difficult to find skilled watchmakers in the United States. Traditionally, the skill was passed down from generation to generation, but this is less common in recent times, lending to a scarcity in skilled craftsmen. Due to this scarcity and the intensity of the work, watch repairs can often come at some expense. Avoiding any additional expense due to failed DIY repairs is advisable. To be brief, DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME.
Even basic watch repairs and adjustments should be taken to a professional. Changing a battery m
ay seem simple enough, but often the problem lies in properly removing and replacing the case back. The most common case backs require some degree of skill to be removed properly, often with a case knife or screwdriver used to pop it loose. These backs are intended to seal tight, so most require a special watch press be used to reset the back on securely. Other watch cases may require a specially designed tool, or a fine screw driver. Without the proper tools, damage can occur to the case back, or possibly to yourself.
The movements in watches are also easily damaged. When changing the battery, one must be careful to avoid damaging parts, leaving oil residue in the movement or leaving the watch improperly sealed and vulnerable to water. When movements are damaged, they are generally replaced in full, rather than repaired. Depending upon the particular movement, this can become an expensive repair.
Link removal can also be a daunting process, some requiring a great amount of time. Many companies have developed bands with widely varying construction, making it difficult for customers to understand how to properly and safely remove or add links to a band. Like battery replacement, band adjustment is typically very inexpensive and can be done while you wait.
When you allow a professional to repair or adjust your watch, you have a guarantee that if damage does occur, the expense will not be yours to cover. Consider it an insurance policy. That said, keep in mind that big box stores are NOT professional watch repairman. Their employees are generally not properly trained and often these stores will refuse to cover any damages incurred in the repair or adjustment process. This applies to even simple adjustments such as battery replacement and link removal. It is advisable that you consult a jewelry store which employs a watch repairman and offers a warranty on each service.