How To Assemble Wrist Watch

Knowing how to assemble wrist watch is a handy skill. If you loan your watch to a friend and it comes back in pieces, don't worry. If you wake up after a long weekend and your watch has been dismantled, no problem. A few basic steps are needed to set things right. Learning how to assemble a wrist watch requires a bit of time. The best idea is to finish the job in one sitting. You'll need a few basic things;

  • clean, dust-free work surface
  • can of pressurized air
  • lint-free working cloth (kitchen towel without bathroom towel-type nap works just fine)
  • glass cleaner
  • duct tape (another use for the universal tape)
  • crystal glue (a maybe item)
  • wrist watch parts
  1. Get stuff organized. The watch works, the inside mechanical stuff, should be exposed as little as possible to the dust and air. How to assemble a wrist watch is more about the preparation than the assembly. 
  2. Stretch out the cloth and watch parts. Put the cloth down carefully and tack the ends down with some duct tape so the cloth doesn't move. Make sure you have all the watch parts before taking out the works. If you skip the tape step, you may end with stuff all over the floor when you start messing with the cleaning supplies.
  3. Clean the parts. Look over the case and the crystal. If the glass is dirty, use the glass cleaner to wipe both sides of the crystal. Use the small, special papers supplied with the cleaner. They really do make a difference in reducing the amount of scratching. Assembling a wrist watch includes using the compressed air to lightly blast the interior case and giving a tiny shot to the face. The watch face, not your face. And shot means air. Don't blast the works. You might throw something off. It's all about weights and gears to keep good time. Don't adjust the timing mechanism, the tiny lever that looks like an arrow, unless you really know what you're doing. 
  4. Drop in the crystal. Turn the watch over so the face is flat on the towel and drop in the crystal. The crystal should sit solidly in the frame. If it doesn't, it may need a replacement. It may also need a tiny bit of glue to stay in place. Rather than gob a bunch of glue on to begin with, put everything together and test things. If the glass moves around, take everything out and then add the glue at each corner of the crystal. Assembling a wrist watch requires a bit of patience and trail and error. 
  5. Put in the works. Lightly place the works on top of the crystal. The works may have rests built into the case or it may fit snuggly just by a simple drop. 
  6. Add the seals. Most watches don't have seals, but expensive ones and newer watches might have one or several seals. These are the same shape as the case and stop dust from entering the case. You'll need to mess with these a bit. Some seals are designed to go between the crystal and the works, but most are inserted between the works and the back. Installing the rings is the hardest part of assembling a wrist watch.
  7. Put on the watch back. The next hardest step in how to assemble a wrist watch is putting on the watch back. Most watches are a breeze. A simple screw or snap action is all that's necessary. Newer watches with seals might be a problem. If you're sure everything is in correctly and the back still won't go on right, you need a special tool. Take it to the store to buy a new battery and the attendant will attach the back. Older, windup models should go together easily, without special tools.
  8. Put on the strap. How to assemble a wrist watch is easier sometimes than putting on the strap, especially vintage watches with retractable metal pins.



If the crystal is scratched, try using a glass polishing compound. Make sure, however, that the crystal is glass. The compound on plastic only adds more scratches.



"Practical Watch Repairing," Donald de Carle, 2008

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