Sunday, October 17, 2021

Jewelry repair 102: Watch batteries




Richard Alan

The reason I’m explaining the process of simple repairs is to educate and eliminate the mystery of what actually happens to your ring or chain or any piece of your beloved jewelry when you need it fixed or restored.

The most common event in my shop is simple watch battery replacement. Simple right? I usually charge $10.00 for the average watch; most Timex watches require a lithium battery that cost $15.00… go figure: an inexpensive watch with the most expensive battery. I offer coupons on the island that can lower the cost by $ 5.00. I get complaints that even $5.00 is too much of a charge. Oh really? The do-it-yourself folks come in all the time with their watches, or should I say watch parts, presented to me like Humpty Dumpty with umpteen pieces in various stages of being unassembled.

The average Joe can go buy the battery almost anywhere and pay $7.00 to $15.00. Now you have to properly install it. Some are so easy a baboon can do it and then there are watches that, the second you pop the back off, out spews watch parts like a demented jack in the box. Have fun putting back all those screws, buttons and springs on top of removing the old dead battery, then replacing the new one without damaging anything inside and then actually have the watch run again.

What’s the matter you can’t get the back of the watch to stay on? That’s because the sealing gasket required to close the watch got mangled when you tried to open the watch as if you were shucking an oyster. Oops! The torn gasket also keeps the moisture out and makes the watch waterproof. It also requires a special tool called a watch press and that tool costs a couple hundred dollars. These are tools unavailable at the local hardware store.

So basically, in order to save $3.00 these folks have rendered their watches useless and it will now cost more than the value of the watch to have it repaired and replace the battery. One good thing; even when broken it tells the right time twice a day.

Many high grade watches require the removal of many tiny screws and battery holding springs that require the utmost skill to perform the “simple” battery change. Some watches have to be sent to factory authorized facilities that can charge $100.00 or more between postage and insurance and replacing the battery. Yeah, I’m worth the ten bucks to change a watch battery and no, you can’t borrow my tools. 

On a happier note… I am donating 50% of the proceeds of my battery sales to a worthy cause, MEALS OF HOPE, for the months of October and November.

Have you been swindled today? Unscrupulous characters have been offering naïve islanders 14kt. gold chains on the street for hundreds of dollars. They may look like a good deal; the chain looks good, feels good and is even marked 14kt. They are gold plated brass (worthless). Say no thanks and get the plate number if they are in a car. Several islanders have been scammed for big dollars.

Richard Alan is a designer /goldsmith with over forty years of experience and the owner of the Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza. He welcomes your questions about “All That Glitters”. 239-394-9275 or 

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