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Watch Face Repair


A friend has asked if I can repair her watch. A small rectangular
piece of metal which marks the 9 o’clock hour is no longer attached
to the face of the watch, but moving about freely. I have never done
any work with watches.

I’ve taken the back off of the watch and find that the stem (which
is used to adjust the hands) is fitted through the side of the
watch. So, I cannot lift the watch mechanism out of the case to make
the repair. I looked on line and found a site with instructions
which said there should be a small screw near this stem that could
be loosened and the stem removed. There is (of course!) no little
screw near the stem. How do I remove this stem so I can remove the
mechanism from the case and make the repair?

It’s not an expensive watch, but does have sentimental value. I know
she could take it elsewhere to have the repair made, but I’m
interested to know how to do it myself. Any help is appreciated.

Thanks a bunch!
Pam in chilly Newburyport, MA

Hi Pam,

Look for a little hole next to the stem. Press it down while you
pull gently on the stem. It should come out.

Good luck,


Ps I am not a watch maker…only speaking from past experience.

Hello Pam: If there is no screw to loosen then what you are looking
for is a small lever to push down while pulling the stem out. Make
sure that the stem is all the way in first because if it’s not the
lever will be out of sight. The area to push should be very close to
the stem and on the edge of the movement, it usually looks like it
has an indention on it and sometimes even says “push” beside it.
Since this movement has no “Detent screw” to loosen for stem removal
I am assuming that this is a quartz watch. Once you get the stem out
and remove the movement use some epoxy to reglue the dial marker on.
I use the same cement used to glue the crystals on but you probably
don’t have that. CAUTION, if you are going to use super glue use it
sparingly and allow it to out gas for a few hours before you re-case
the movement or you will wind up with white haze over everything. As
super glue out gasses it reacts to oils and other things. Now my
advise to you is that you should not do this repair because it is
irresponsible for non trained people to open and service watches. All
it takes is a small bit of dust to stop a watch. Way too many people
open watches to change batteries that are not qualified and are
shortening the life of there customers watches. Having said that I
think that you should get some cheep watches, even if you go buy them
at Wal-Mart for $5 and open them up and take them apart and see how
they work. I am a certified Watch Maker as well as a JA certified
Master Bench Jeweler and I will be happy to explain anything to you
as you find it. Watches are fascinating.

Michael R. Mathews, Sr. Victoria,Texas USA


First is the watch quartz or mechanical?

Second there is always either a detent (place to push to relase the
stem) or a screw to loosen.

Third if you have opened the watch and don’t know what you are doing
you more than likely will damage the watch. It should be worked on by
a watchmaker.

Damage can come in the form of your tools not being the right ones
to be used or you putting too much pressure on the parts and not
understanding the way the mechanism works. Or getting the movement
dirty. ‘Dirt’ for a watch is fine dust that you can see only under
magnification and larger particles. This dirt can only be cleaned
using the proper equipment and solutions.

If cleaned it will need to be relubricated properly.

Watches are precision machines.

Your handling of the movement can easily break the pivot on the
balance wheel or distort the balance wheel. You can also very easily
destroy the hairspring just by blowing on it.

Unless you want to buy her a new movement or have to send it to a
watchmaker for repair at your expense I would suggest you close it
back up and tell her to get it repaired by a qualified person.

Watch repair is expensive for several reasons. Parts are expensive.
The skill to work on the watches and the knowledge has come at a very
high price to the watchmaker.

Your skills at jewelry making are not the same as for working on
watches. Especially a ladies tiny watch. If you want to know how to
fix watches I would recommend you contact Dan Gendron and take one of
his classes. I will be happy to give his phone number out if you or
anyone is interested.

The marker on the dial should be replaced by a dial company. Which
means the dial needs to be refinished. Dial refinishing companies are
not the easiest people to deal with. They don’t seem to be able to
read and follow the simplest of instructions. How they live from day
to day is a mystery!

Also NEVER use super glue on a watch.

If you need any help with the watch let me know. I am an accredited
horologist (watchmaker).


Thanks for the good advise! I’ll never look at a watch the same way
again! I’ve packed up the watch and sent it back to its owner with
your good advise.

Now that I’ve received your responses, I’m interested in learning
more. Are there any good books I can start studying and any classes
available in New England?

Thanks for your help. I can always count on Orchid! Pam
Newburyport, MA

Hi Pam Somewhere near the stem is a button (silver color usually)
which you’ll have to push while pulling on the stem. Be precise as
you really need three hands for this procedure. Whatever you do,
don’t let your screwdrivers or tweezers touch the coil. (Usually
orange) Carefully remove the stem. One word of caution- there is a
small gear which is used in the setting process which likes to get
turned when the stem is out of the watch. It used to happen to me
all of the time when I was new to this. Once turned, you’ll have to
remove the dial in order to get to it to fix it up. Don’t worry too
much about it, it probably won’t happen to you, just wanted to let
you know.


Hello, I’d like to respectfully disagree with your suggestion for her
to not open the watch. It’s a $35 watch anyway. She’s not going
into the gear train. She’s doing basic kind of work that anybody
qualified to do battery replacement ought to be able to do. It’s not
irresponsible at all. Sneezing into the open case is, dropping it on
the floor is, scratching the coil is, but but not yanking a stem and
glueing a dial marker. That’s just basic. And her friend would be
so grateful. Crystal cement would probably be the best choice for
glueing the dial marker since I can’t see mixing up epoxy for that
little bit. You’re totally correct though about the super glue
reacting inside the cases.


Pam You may find there is a plunger which you need to depress to
release the stem. I would advise caution though because on occasions
the stem will not go back without having to dismantle the watch and
reasemble the winding mechanism which sometimes becomes dislodged
when the stem is removed. It could end up costing you money.

Alan Lewis ( watchmaker)