Amazing Tricks How To Open A Pocket Watch Effortlessly – 2023 DIY

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Looking for ways how to open a pocket watch to change battery? Having the best pocket watch is a great opportunity , but opening is is a big challenge especially if it is a vintage Or any other old pocket watch with case back that has rust parts.

There are some reasons that can prompt you to pop off a pocket watch case back.For obvious reasons of replacing the watch battery, or cleaning the timepiece or one reason could be for simply fixing the fallen mechanical parts. In addition to that, you may want to check the gear mechanism because you want to convert your pocket watch to a wristwatch.

We are going to present some do-it-yourself steps how you can get off the case back of your watch and which is the right tools to use. Anything else would mean you need to find a local watch expert.

Just the fact that there are different types of pocket watches with varied design is a mind bordering barrier to removing pocket watch glasses or case backs.

First get these tips understood before opening a pocket watch. Be extra careful else you may end up breaking a historic timepiece.

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how to open pocket watches

img: How to open a pocket watch


Pocket Watch Opening Tools

It would be very helpful to list down some most essential tools you can use to repair your watch at home. These are the same set of tools used by serious horologist . Shopping and buying just the bare minimum for your watch repair kit, can get you started to repair your vintage pocket watches and bring them back to value. There are some essential watch repair tools you must have to open a pocket watch correctly.

1. Watch case opener

knife - a tool how to open a pocket watchhow to open a pocket watch - Amazing Tricks How To Open A Pocket Watch Effortlessly - 2023 DIYThe first thing in a watch repair kid is the case opener used to remove the back or front of the watch. A different kind of watch case opener can  screw off the back, others tools will simply lever off the back.

Screw-back pocket watches also require some special tools like an adjustable Jaxa tool which is often referred as the manufacturers own screw back removal tool. Watches that have Snap on front and back with a simple case opener knife.

2. Movement holder

tools how to open a pocket watchhow to open a pocket watch - Amazing Tricks How To Open A Pocket Watch Effortlessly - 2023 DIY Img Amazon : SE JT64040 Watch Movement Holder Set

After removing the watch case, never remove the watch movement from its case with your fingers, a movement holder is a special equipment you can use to safely secure the movement, the stems without breaking one piece.

Movement holders can handle different sized movements both smaller and larger ones. Experts recommend that  Horotec and Bergeon make excellent movement holders.

Make make a movement holder ass important part of of your watch repair kit.

3.Watch Hand Lifting Levers

how to open a pocket watch with hand lifting levers how to open a pocket watch - Amazing Tricks How To Open A Pocket Watch Effortlessly - 2023 DIY

2 Watch Hand Removers, Watch Toggle Puller Watch Tool and Replacement Hands

If your pocket watch is completely not working, you need tools to handle the analog hands, else they break or fall off.They are also essential to removing the dial from your watch.

The pocket watch hands are pull out vertically, an the Hand Lifting Levers handles this task by rocking on their angles to drive the hands upwards. Add watch hand lifting levers to your pocket watch repair kit.

The good news is that a Hand Lifting Levers come in various sizes so, if you know the size of the analog hand, you know which lever to buy.

4 Watchmakers Tweezers

how to open pocket watches with tweezershow to open a pocket watch - Amazing Tricks How To Open A Pocket Watch Effortlessly - 2023 DIYTweezers pick up the screw and also help to move and replace tiny watch parts.  These Watchmakers tweezers very precise ends that come so perfectly close to each other when picking up some smaller watch component. These 7 pieces stainless steel tweezers are very easy to use.

5. Watchmakers Screwdriver

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Professional quality watchmaker screwdrivers for watches – Repair Tool Set, Professional Stainless Steel, 10-Piece

You will remove the pocket watch back from its case by disassembling the stem and  the watch case having the screws. A good quality set of watchmakers screwdrivers can last a lifetime. Purchasing a set makes a better investment in repairing your watches. Be careful not to damage your watch screws, by using very poor quality screwdrivers from China.

If you need the best for your watch repair kit, these are the best brands AF Switzerland, Bergeon, and Horotec. All these are Swiss made. Where necessary, know that blunt Watchmakers screwdrivers can be resharpened. A dressing stone and a small jig is the right tool to use here.


 Overview – How to open a pocket watch

If you are in a hurry, here is how to dissemble parts of a pocket watch

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Tips how to open a pocket watch

Using the essential tools for your Watch Repair Kit, make sure you follow these tips when opening your pocket watch. In that case, you are certain that you can do the task yourself without need for  watch repairman near you.

1. Don’t Be in a hurry to open !

Parts of the gears and internal workings of the watch movement may have gotten loose. Si there is huge risk of getting them scattered everywhere on the floor, immediately as you pop off the case back.

2. First Determine the type of pocket watch

Which type of pocket watch is it? This is true of the piece is an old watch passed down from grandparents and for timepieces that have been discontinued decades ago. Not all pocket watch brands are opened the same way.

Check which of these different types of pocket watches you have – screw-off case back, hinged back and bezel, or swing out case pocket watch?

Some of these watches require a snap-off on the latch while others come enclosed in a protective case that you must take off first before you can reach the actual pocket watch.

3. Handle it safely – don’t Press the Pocket Watch hard

If you aren’t sure yet about how to open the pocket watch, keep it safe in the storage box until you have gotten a way out. Forcing your way to get accessing of the movement of the watch can press sensitive parts, glass crystals, and ruin the whole piece. You don’t even need to be hard to get off screw case back from the watch. Be gentle in unscrewing it.

In the same way, close the lid of pocket watches gently because a thumb press at the middle of the cover has shattered the crystal glass of some vintage pocket watches beyond repair, requiring on complete replacement.

4. Wear hand Gloves when opening the Watch

Vintage watches passed manufactured during Industrial Age may have been used in dangerous condition and exposed to poisonous or chemical substances. If your pocket watch was one  used by railway workers decades ago, the crystal glass may have endure so much beatings and gotten weaker. So poor handling may break the watch crystal, letting the thorny parts injure your bare hands.

5. Avoid Scratches

It is painful to see a scratch on you luxury pocket watch. A wrong move with a sharp tool set may leave a permanent scratch or mark on you watch. Be extra careful when using Knives, Pins and Scalpel to open an old watch you just found, picked or received.

6. Get an Expert’s Help

You need immediate help if you have tried everything else to get your pocket watch opened . Profession watch repairers understand the different watch types and have various tools and techniques in their disposition than the watch owner. Still, they can offer you free advice on how to open a pocket watch.



Different Types Of Pocket watch Case Backs

Before you open a pock jet watch case to reveal its movements(internal working gears), first figure out which kind of pocket watch base back it is. You will find that it probably can be one of the following case types – screw-off back, hinged back, swing-out case back or a snap-off back.

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How to identify Pocket Watch Case back before determining the Opening Styles

1. Screw-off back.

Found in pocket watches that have no hinge on the back. There is a visible seam around rim of case back and no visible “notch” in the seam for a pocket watch case-knife.

2. Snap-off back.

Pocket watches here have no hinge on the back and a visible seam with notch for case-knife.

3. Hinged-back

pocket watches here have a hinge visible on the case back. You may have a notch for the case-knife.

4. Swing-out:

Watches here have no seam around the back cover. Both the back cover and watch body are all one handy piece. If you remove the front bezel, you will find the swing-out movement.



How to open pocket watch case backs

Take a quick look at how to open a pocket watch case back. The video shows how to open 5 different types of pocket watch cases from Swing out open through the front, screw front and back.


1. How to open “POP OFF” Or “THREADED” case

Pop off – Just as the name says, Pop off cases pop off with the use of a sharp tool. All you need is insert a thin metallic tool into the gap in the seam, to get the cover off. Some of the lids are hanging on hinges while some covers just separate from the case completely.

Threaded – A threaded pocket watch case back simply threads off when you grip the cover using a rubber jar opening grip. An elastic band can also offer a good grip too. You should know that it can be pretty difficult to get the covers off.


2. How to open Snap-off Pocket watch Case Back

A snap-off case back is not threaded but it comes fully separable from the watch case body. Look carefully on the rim where the back meets the case body, there you find a tiny notch. It is small but large enough to let you get the edge.

The best tools to open the Timepieces with type of pocket watch cases, is a watch repairers case knife. Using a sharp knife is a bloody mistake, so a blunt blade is better choice.

When opening the case back, it will simply “snaps” into place on the back of the watch case. Besides, if you do a little sideways wiggling of the blade, you may pop open without forcing it. Here is how to open Snap-off Case Back

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Precaution when opening the Case back:

Using too much pressure may cause you lose control of the blade, and consequently scratching the pocket watch or wound your thumb finger.

Closing the case back :

To close the snap-off case back after opening the pocket watch, properly get it aligned with the pins in their right places. Hook the case back on one side of the rim and With your thumb sliding around the perimeter of the watch case, apply a little pressure to press it down.


3. How open Screw-off Pocket watch Case Back

A pocket watch with a Screw-off Case Back are threaded and needs to be unscrewed, to be opened. To identify a screw-off back, you will see a seam-line separating the back from the body.

Unlike of other case backs, there is no hinge holding the case back to the body. The screws are standard right-hand threaded to tighten up, and left threaded to let it loose.

One poor handling of this type of pocket watches can make it practically impossible to remove the case back. Rusting occurring between the case back and the body is very hindering to the process.

Opening by hand is possible but if it does not work, try using rubber jar opener. Contact a professional pocket watch repairer if all your attempts fail.

Avoid using a slip-joint pliers. Take a look at how to open a pocket watch’s Screw-off case-back pocket watch


4. How to open Hinged Back and Bezel

Hinged cases get fixed to the pocket watch body through a hinge. Some models of these hinged case watches also have hinged bezels.

One design is common for this type – the hinge is always located at 6 O clock position. This is different for side-winder watches with hinges shifted to 9 o clock spit.

Double check first if the rim of the case back reveals a wide spot along its perimeter where a case-knife tip can omevin. That spot is a notch, and using a thumbnail there may get the pocket watch back opened.

Some pocket watches come with hinged case backs featuring both inner and outer metal covers. Despite the fact that the inner cover or curette comes with a distinct hinge, it opens the similarly just like the outer case back.

The groove may look little for your pocket knife, so be careful because the knife may slip, scratching the cover or injuring your hand.


5. How to open Swing-out Cased pocket watch

The swing-out case is also called the swing ring by the watch case manufacturers. Known for being dust-proof and moisture-proof, swinging ring pocket watches are tricky to open.

Most people who have tried opening their swing case pocket watches end up with damaged timepieces. The reason why swing ring is quite hard to open is that their watch movement is fixed onto a ring which is hinged to the case body.

Just imagine, his can one separate components if a watch whose case body and the case back are joint as a single unit. Obviously, there is no possible way to separate the One piece into separate case back and body.

But here is the ultimate way how to open a swinging ring pocket watch

The swing ring case watch has a screw-off front. So you must first remove the front bezel and crystal.

As you get the bezel out of place, You will find the ring that holds the movement hinged to the case, either at the 12:00 or at the 3:00 position.

Check, and you will see a little notch on the opposite side of the hinge. There, insert an opening tool like a thumbnail or case-knife to lift up and remove the movement.

Here is where you may get in trouble. The winding stem connecting the knob(watch crown) to the timekeeping mechanism, is still strongly connected inside the movement.

So, Trying to get the movement up outside the case comes with some tough resistance. You can easily break the stem linking the movement if you just pull carelessly, Swinging the movement up or sideways with force. Here is where folks proceed wrongly, thus ruining the whole piece and never being able to rewind the watch.

It will worsen everything if the broken piece of the stem falls out and gets lost. You know, the watchmaker can’t even make a new stem replacement without measuring the size of the missing piece.

With great precaution, just pull out the crown and stem into the “setting position” before swinging-out the movement. Please, do not force it, if the movement does seam to come out, wiggle and turn the crown(winding knob) flexibly, if it would come out free.

Don’t force anything because that won’t get it out in one piece.

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If you cant identify your pocket watch case back type, sure, you know the brand of your pocket watch. Since you have decided to open the watch back yourself, after you already properly determined the type of pocket watch you own.

Note that there is a lot of questioning about how to open pocket watches for variety of reasons, including finding mechanism hidden behind antique pocket watches backs. Since most people haven’t spent much time around the antique timepieces, they are looking from where to start.

Follow these steps:

How to open “OPEN FACE” pocket watches

how to open an open face pocket watch

Open face – Open face pocket watches feature a crystal (glass) on the front of the watch face , at crown (winding knob) at 12 O’clock and a second hand at 6 O’clock position. Using a thin metallic tool, you can make the case front and back either thread or “pop” off. A suitable tool for this task, at home, is a thicker butter knife or pocket knife.


How to Open and Close a Hunter-Cased Pocket watch

A hunter watch case comes with a stainless steel latch that holds the gold plated rim of the cover when it is closed. The latch has aspiring connection to the crown at the 3 o’clock position. A proper and an effortless way to open the hunter watch is to press down on the winding knob or crown.

how to open a hunter case pocket watch

Img: Steel latch catches on the rim of the front cover of the case.

You need to be careful too when closing the hunter cased watch. Never just snap the case lid to shut it. Experience from watch repairers shows that this causes some spots on the case rim to get worn out so easily. That is bad if you were dam lucky to have but a strong gold case hunter pocket watch.

Fortunately, since the latch is built form steel, it is more harder, and tougher to wear out, as compared to gold filled or gold plated brass cases. The best option is to get the repaired by a goldsmith. Thee is practically nothing you can do with the case lid or the hinges that will help if case rim wears out.

Anything thing that gets the pocket watch crystal ruined pressing down hard on the cover lid with the thumb. Note there is just a slim clearance between the cover and the crystal glass on the watch face. A big thumb push at the middle may bring the cover down to crash on the glass, the result is breaking it.

To close it properly, press the latch button and while holding it down, Close the cover lid before you release the latch button. Make it a simple habit because it will save you from ruining a costly pocket watch case or crystal repair.

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How to open Elgin pocket watch

how to open Elgin pocket watches - how to remove a pocket watch back for Elgin


How do I identify my Elgin watch?

You need to your watch movement’s serial number and look it up in pocket watch database. Elgin watch serial numbers begine from 101 Raymond pocket watch model designed in 1867, and range up to 50,000,000. Note that some Elgin pocket watch serial numbers start with a single letter.

If you have an Antique Elgin Pocket Watch, let us see how to open the case to look at movement inside and get the serial number.

  • Pull the crown up, as you do, if you are setting time. The pulling help raises the stem from inside the movement.
  • slide a fingernail or a case knife into the notch found at the bottom of the dial
  • wiggle lightly and get the movement out forward in a tilt.
  • After you are done and want to close it up, tilt the movement back in,\
  • You have to see that you start the crown pulled out. In that case, rotate the crown just a little slightly and at the same time, pressing the movement back down. make sure that the  stem slides smoothly to its position in the movement.

How do you open an old Elgin pocket watch?

Elgin has a case back that need you to get a grip on it to unscrew. So how do I take the back off my Elgin watch? This video shows how you can get a handy tool stick and twist to open it.

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How to open Waltham pocket watches

We have seen ways to open Elgin pocket watch, but how do you open a Waltham wristwatch? If your Waltham watch is worth the money, you would probably find a way to open and identify it, or fix it.

Waltham pocket watches in USA are very popular timepieces with antique watch collectors. Since some of them are old, they might not be easy to open for mechanical access.

First most people don’t know how to identify if they have a Waltham pocket watch or Hamilton or Elgin. To identify Waltham, you need to open the case back. But here is a way how I can identify my Waltham pocket watch.

I Use a magnifying glass to identify the names. If the watch is from Waltham brand, you will have “A.W.W. Co.” and “Waltham, Mass.” on the movement. On these inner workings of the Waltham pocket watch, is also found the grade of the watch.

We will get into more details how to identify a pocket watch in another article, but let’s first understand how to open them. Just like other pocket watches, figure out which type of Waltham watch case you own.

Waltham pocket watches basically come in three types of cases – “screw on” and “snap on.” These cased Waltham are opened in slightly different ways.

Timepieces With an etched design, have a seam that goes round the outer edge, of the entire case back. This back cover and the body has some internal and make treads that screw into the watch body.

Some Waltham watches actually have snap case with a notch or lip on the case back cover, which is located either at position 6 or 12. The best tool for the snap case Waltham watch, is a blunt blade, but you need to be very careful slipping when you spry the case back. While you are careful and there is no slip, use the blunt blade and wedge it into the seam. A lift on the case should pop open the Waltham.


Wrap up

You have seen how to open pocket watches of various case types and designs. The most important is for you to be able to identify the type of watch case your vintage pocket watch has. Once you can identify the brand name and the case type, its just the matter of using the right tools and method to break open the watch back. Feel free to use the comment box below for any question, correction or inquiry.


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