How To Replace A Watch Crystal

Do you want to know how to replace a watch crystal? Replacing a watch crystal is not something the average person is really going to want to tackle. It takes specialized tools and knowledge to perform, and perform it correctly. It would be almost impossible to give the detailed instructions to instruct a novice in the process, but we can give an overview to help show the basic process.  Those persons who wish to pursue it further can get more detailed instruction. Part of the issue is there are various types of crystals with various methods of attaching them to the watch. Further complicating the process is that in most cases in order to do it properly the watch movement will need to be removed.

Items needed to replace a watch crystal include:

  •  Watch crystal
  • Gasket
  • Ultraviolet glue curing lamp
  • Calipers
  • Watchmakers tools to open case and remove movement
  • Watchmakers crystal press
  • Watchmakers crystal lift
  • Watch crystal epoxy dissolver/cleaner
  • Watch crystal epoxy
  1. Open watch.  Using the correct tools open the watch case and remove the movement. Sit them aside in a safe place.
  2. Remove old crystal.  Use the proper method and remove the old crystal. Epoxied crystals may need to have the case boiled or epoxy dissolver used  to soften and remove the epoxy. Others may simply pop out or need a crystal lifter to be used to remove them.
  3. Clean case.  If needed use glue remover to clean the case. All traces of old glue will need to be removed.
  4. Measure old crystal. Use the calibers and measure the old crystal.
  5. Examine and purchase crystal.   This is where you determine what options the crystal has, or you want in a new crystal. There are various materials, plastic (usually used in older watches), mineral crystal, and sapphire glass. There are also different types, domed, flat, cyclops date viewers to name a few. There are different shapes, round, rectangular, and square. Purchase the type that fits your watch best.
  6. Fit new crystal to the watch.  Use the appropriate method to fit the crystal to the watch. Some use gaskets, some are press fit into the case with a case press, and some are epoxied into place. Some epoxies need to have special cure methods and some have longer or shorter setting times. Make sure to familiarize yourself well with the type you purchase.
  7. Replace watch movement.  Replace the watch movement and case back using the proper method.

This is the basic process to replace a watch crystal. Obviously there is a lot more to the details. For most novices the best idea is to take the watch to a qualified watchmaker, plus it can be a lot cheaper in the long run than wrecking your favorite watch.

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