Broken Watch? DIY Or Seek Professional Repair?

If you've recently broken the crystal, strap, or another component of your high-end watch, you may be wondering whether you're able to repair it yourself. Although it can be tempting to try this to save money, there are certain components that may be easily damaged by a non-experienced repair person. Read on to learn more about the types of watch repairs you can easily perform yourself, as well as several repairs that are best handled by a professional.

What watch repairs can you perform yourself?

Mechanical watches require several types of periodic maintenance to keep them in good running condition. With the purchase of a couple of precision tools, you should be able to perform these tasks yourself -- saving you money over the long run by avoiding potential problems before they start. 

Oiling your watch

In some situations, a watch that isn't quite keeping time or makes squeaking or scratching sounds simply needs to be oiled. To do this, you'll need a set of watchmaker screwdrivers, an oiler (a very thin straw-like device that is able to dispense a single drop of oil at a time), watch oil, and a set of tweezers. You'll also want to ensure that you're working in a dry, dust-free, well-lighted area, and should place a towel on your work surface to help minimize the risk of losing any tiny parts.

To oil the watch, first remove the back. Some mechanical watch backs can be pried up with the tip of a screwdriver or set of tweezers, while others must be unscrewed. 

Once you've removed the back of the watch, carefully lift up the jewel (the tiny round device in the center of the watch) with your tweezers and place a small drop of oil on the center of the jewel. Carefully replace the jewel with your tweezers and replace and secure the back of the watch. Now all the mechanical parts that originate in or near the jewel will be sufficiently lubricated to ensure smooth operation.

Repairing a broken strap

Whether your watch strap is made from leather, fabric, rubber, or metal, you may be able to repair or replace it at home. The decision whether to replace or repair will depend on the strap's material. If your strap is leather, fabric, or rubber, and has cracked or broken, replacement may be a better option, as it is more difficult to perform a discreet repair on these materials. If your strap is made of metal links, you may be able to remove and replace a broken link using only an eyeglass screwdriver.

In many cases, particularly with leather or rubber straps, you should be able to purchase a replacement strap online -- and these straps often come with their own installation tools.

What watch repairs should you leave to a professional?

In general, most watch owners are not equipped to handle repairs like replacing a broken or cracked crystal or maintenance like regular cleanings (which require a nearly complete disassembling of the watch to get into all nooks and crannies).

You should always seek out professional watch repair if you feel uncomfortable handling a repair yourself. In many cases, you'll wind up saving money by having a repair performed by someone who is trained and has all the necessary tools, rather than purchasing these tools yourself and performing the repair without causing any further damage.