How to Replace Watch Crystal

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Most watches these days are made with tempered crystal or laser sealed to resist scratching, nicks and cracks. For the most part, your watch should have the ability to sustain ordinary bumps and scrapes. Considering all of the damage control for which our hands and wrists are responsible—preventing doors slamming on us, catching falling items and dozens of other offensive and defensive moves we’re barely even aware of—watchmakers design timepieces to withstand almost any catastrophe you can throw their way. Occasionally, however, you may experience an incident that creates the need to replace your watch's crystal. Follow some simple steps to accomplish this task yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Warranty
  • Watch repair tool kit

Replace Watch Crystal

Step 1

Check your warranty. Some watch manufacturers, and some stores, offer crystal replacement for a limited or unlimited amount of time. Tourneau, one of the world’s largest watch stores, offers an extended warranty protection plan, for example.

Step 2

Replace the crystal yourself. Find a crystal in the same size from a used-watch dealer, or see whether you can purchase a replacement at a watch-repair store. Companies such as Otto Frei and Jules Borel, Inc. sell watch crystals and parts.

Step 3

Buy a watch-repair tool kit online or at your local watch-repair store.

Step 4

All watches have a different design and thus require different disassembly methods; some watch faces unscrew, while others pop off. Find a diagram of your watch online, or dig up the paperwork that came with the timepiece. Never force crystal off your watch.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider how much you spent on your watch and how much it will cost to replace the crystal, have the crystal repaired or replace the watch altogether. If your timepiece isn’t an antique, handed down from a relative or overly precious, consider buying a new watch.
  • Buff the crystal. Swatch, for example, laser seals all of its watch crystals. Because you cannot remove the crystal from a Swatch, many dealers offer buffing. Many jewelry store that sell watches will either have a buffer on hand or will be able to send the watch out for repair.
  • Some crystals can only be replaced mechanically by the manufacturer or by a professional horologist or watch repair person.
  • Before going to the store from which you purchased your watch, read the warranty to ensure that it covers crystal replacement.
  • Always save instructions and diagrams that come with your timepiece—especially warranty information.

References

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