How To Fix A Watch That Stopped Working

For those of us who loves watches and can’t get enough of them, a watch that’s stopped working is a major bummer. Whether it’s a smartwatch that you wear for keeping track of news and sports highlights, or a luxury automatic watch that’s all class and no filler, every watch is prone to problems at some point in its life.

Inside the watch on your wrist is a complex system of gears and mechanisms which keep your watch ticking and on time. One watch may have a battery which keeps things moving, while another watch that’s automatic could rely on kinetic energy from the movement of your wrist. Whether you’re into quartz watches or self-winding time pieces, one thing for sure is you’re bound to have a moment where it stops moving and you start panicking a little.

Don’t panic! There’s no need! We’re here to help you out with a primer on how to fix watch problems when they arise! While there is no easy solution for some watch problems, there’s a lot you can do to diagnose your issues when you either remove the case or seek professional assistance.

We’ll get more into that below with four common watch problems and how to fix them.

4 Reasons Why Your Watch Stopped Working (And How To Fix It)

1) Your Watch Battery Is Dead Or Dying

If you have a quartz watch, the most common problem you’ll face is a dead battery. It’s one of the leading causes of watch failure and can be a real drag to fix if you’re not sure what you’re doing. You can always go to a watch repair shop and have them do the battery change for you. Or you can open your case yourself and replace the dead battery with a fresh one.

If you choose to open your quartz watch on your own, there are four different types of watch cases with different methods for opening. They are as follows:

  • Screw-Back — You’re going to need a special screw-back removal tool for this job. Similar to a pair of tweezers, this tool will slot into the grooves around your case. Once it’s slotted in and the back is loosened, twist it counterclockwise with your fingers to open the back of the watch.
  • Snap-Back — Snap-back cases require a pen knife or flat blade to pry them open under the raised lip of the watch. It’s simpler than a screw-back but can be a bit tricky for those with dexterity issues.
  • Case & Screws — In this scenario, you’ll likely see at least four Phillips head screws in the back of your case. All you need is a Phillips screwdriver and some elbow grease to get the back off.
  • Swatch Case — Swatch cases or those in the style of a Swatch case require a coin to twist open. The difference between these cases and others is that opening the back only exposes the battery terminal. The rest of the watch requires extra tools to open.

When replacing a battery yourself, be careful of mechanisms around the battery terminal such as the watch movement. Use tweezers or steady hands and observe the mechanism holding the battery in place, staying careful as not to cause undue pressure and break it. A single false move with a tool could damage your watch movement irreparably and turn a routine battery change into a cause for a full watch replacement. If you don’t feel confident about conducting a battery change yourself, there are many repair shops out there which will take care of your battery change for less than you might think.

2) Your Watch Has Sustained Damage From Impact

If you’re prone to bouts of clumsiness like the rest of us, you’re bound to hit your watch off a wall or table at some point. Sometimes even the most powerful of impacts cause no problems, but there are times which you hit a watch just wrong and things stop working. You may have simply loosened something in the gears, you may have cracked the watch dial to where it’s impeding the watch hands, or you may have something severely wrong which may require expert attention or a replacement.

If the gears are loosened and there’s no visible damage when you open the case, there are a host of YouTube tutorials out there for DIY repairs. However, the honest truth is that you’ll likely have to take your watch to a repair shop for diagnosis and fixing. If the watch is within its warranty and the damage is covered, you can also send the watch back to the manufacturer and have them take a look. The worst case scenario is that you’ll have to buy a new watch as sometimes the wrong impact at the wrong time can turn a watch into a paperweight.

3) Your Watch Has Sustained Water Damage

This is a common problem which can have disastrous consequences for the inner workings of your time piece. If you open the crown of your watch and a single drop of water seeps in, there’s a possibility that tiny drop could cause major damage to the point of repair or replacement. While the vast majority of watches have some form of water resistance with their casing, there are always exceptions and defects which can allow moisture in to wreak havoc on the machinations of your watch.

If the gears of your watch are exposed to water, they may rust or warp in such a way that they’ll need replacement. If that’s the case, you can open the watch yourself and rely on YouTube tutorials or pay out of the pocket to have a repair shop take a look at it. If the cost of the repair is close to the cost of the watch or even more, you may want to consider replacing it through the manufacturer or finding a new watch to fawn over.

One note — water damage is a really pervasive issue, but it’s also preventable. While your sports watch may have a fantastic water resistance rating and may have no issues when you’re swimming, that doesn’t mean you should dive super deep with it and risk the problems of increased water pressure. The more you safeguard your watch from water by taking it off for showers or double checking that the crown is fully secure, the less likely you’ll have a problem with water damage.

4) There’s A Manufacturing Issue With Your Watch

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Human error is a thing. The manufacturers of your luxury watch are likely to have done most of its assembly by hand or with small tools, so there’s always a chance that they set something up wrong or installed a faulty part or gear. You may have a manufacturer’s defect that is impeding the power supply from the battery to the watch, or you may have an automatic watch that has a spring which is simply too lose and won’t wind properly. Whatever the case, this is the time to check your warranty agreement with the watch manufacturer.

If your watch is within its warranty period, contact the watch manufacturer and send the watch back in for repair or replacement. If your watch is outside of the warranty period or doesn’t have a warranty attached, it still behooves you to call or contact the manufacturer to file a complaint. Most watch companies want to keep your business and will do anything in their power to fix an issue which was their fault to begin with. So even if you think it’s a lost cause and that you’re doomed to buying a new watch, give contacting the manufacturer a try. If you talk with the right representative or make a good enough case, something good is bound to happen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why has my watch stopped working?

There isn’t just one reason for watch problems. Your watch may have a dead battery, water or physical impact damage, or a manufacturing issue which has caused it to act up. There’s also a belief out there that certain people have electrical currents in them which can drain even a new battery of its juice. While this is mostly hearsay and doesn’t have a full basis in science, many people still point to it as a reason why their watch stopped working.

How do you fix a watch that keeps stopping?

A watch doesn’t just stop working for no apparent reason, and fixing a watch which has this issue is no easy task. If you have the tools and the dexterity to open your watch case (and the knowledge of what you’re looking for), you can remove the back of your watch case and get to work. However, the problem maybe too much or too involved for you to handle alone. In this case, you should definitely look to a local watch repair shop to get your watch working again. Repair shops deal with a constant flow of watches and the various problems which come with them, so suffice to say they should be able to diagnose your watch problem and find some sort of solution.

Can automatic watches stop working?

Yes. While automatic watches don’t run through batteries in around two years like quartz watches, they are intricate mechanisms which sometimes go awry. For example, automatic watches have a spring mechanism which winds itself and the watch. If that spring mechanism becomes lose, the entire watch will stop working. That’s just one problem which could arise with automatic watches. Automatic watches are also prone to the same impact and water damage perils as any other watch.

In addition, your automatic watch problems may simply be due to a zapped power reserve. The watch will need to be self wound either with a winding machine or by wearing it, adding to the watch power reserve.

How do I get my automatic watch to work again?

You can try to fix an automatic watch by opening the case and diagnosing it yourself, but it’s a tricky proposition which may be worthy of a call to a watch repair shop. An automatic watch may be a bit of an investment depending on where you bought it from and from what brand, so calling in a professional to fix it might protect your investment and keep you from making a costly mistake.

Closing Thoughts

Watches can help you freshen up your style and add a touch of class to your wardrobe, but they also can be tricky to maintain and keep working. When watches stop working, there’s a litany of problems which could be in play. Diagnosing and fixing your watch problem may be as simple as getting a new battery, but that’s just one solution of many. With this article in hand, you can open up your watch case with a bit more confidence or make the call to a repair shop and save yourself time. The choice is ultimately yours.

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