Changing a quartz watch battery is easy, you just have to know how to open the case (see my How To on that), have the right battery, and have the right tools. There are many stores that replace watch batteries but it is usually easier and safer changing watch batteries yourself. Besides, sometimes it is difficult to find local watch battery replacement, and even if you do, do they know what they are doing?
There are three types of tools used by people to change a watch battery, whatever is at hand, kinda ESD safe tools, and real ESD safe tools. First we need to discuss ESD so you know what you are dealing with. ESD stands for Electro Static Discharge and is basically what happens when you walk across carpet and touch a metal doorknob and get the mess shocked out of you, that’s over 3,500 volts there buddy!
For reference your quartz watch battery usually runs off either 1.5v or 3v. Needless to say that much voltage can easily fry the electronics in a quartz watch.
ESD is caused by many things, walking across carpet, your clothing moving around on your body, dry air inside a climate controlled home or office, etc. The problem is most people equate static shocks with carpet and doorknobs (metal) so they assume plastic is safe. Try pulling Styrofoam cups off the stack inside the plastic bag they came in, place your arm near the stack as you pull the cups off the stack, the hair raising on your arms shows you the static electricity buildup. You may also not know that cling wrap clings by using a static charge. Now we know that just because something is plastic, or non-metallic, that does not mean it will protect the delicate circuits inside your watch (generic plastic tweezers you picked up at WalMart are not a great idea).
If for whatever reason you need to use a screwdriver in the case, look at the Wiha 7 piece ESD safe slotted and phillips percision screwdriver set and the Xcelite 6 piece precision slotted and phillips screwdriver set which are both real ESD safe sets and are fairly inexpensive. These screwdrivers are made from two different types of high resistance plastics and then the metal blade, this keeps any static away from the part you are working on. These are absolutely worth it if you chance your batteries multiple times, and are excellent quality tools that should last a lifetime.
Also note in the picture above I have a blue plastic probe, designed for use in electrical circuits, in case I need to push or pry on something such as to pry out the watch battery.
Lastly, I use a special ESD safe work mat like the StarTech.com 24×27.5-Inch Desktop Anti-Static Mat M3013 and discharge myself before touching anything. You can usually discharge yourself by touching anything grounded such as a metal water pipe, metal gas line, bare screw head on the center of an electrical outlet, etc. I have a grounding plate plugged into a grounded electrical outlet just for this and I use it every time I replace a watch battery.
Now assuming you are discharged and have the proper tools, replacing that watch battery is a snap! Most watch batteries these days are not even held in place once you get the back off, just carefully lift it out and place the new one in. Some have a sliding tab on top of the battery that swings out of the way so you can lift out the battery. The last type is the ones where you need to remove a screw (with the correct ESD safe screwdriver of course) on an arm over the top of the battery. There is nothing more to it.
If you don’t have a spare, you can get your replacement watch battery from Amazon.
Before you throw up your hands and take it to WalMart to have someone there do it because they know what they are doing, I read a story by a well known watchmaking instructor about an employee at WalMart prying the back off a $20,000+ watch (which was not a snap on back), destroying the back, the springs that held the back on, the movement, and everything, only to find out the watch was a mechanical and did not have a battery at all!
The people running these places have no idea what ESD is, what an expensive watch is, or how to do anything. They do not train their employees on how to do anything, much less the correct way to do it. It is much better that you replace a watch battery since you will at least have some respect for the watch. Good luck!
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Hope you enjoyed learning how to change a watch battery!
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