Watch battery
June 4, 2006 4:58 AM   Subscribe

A fairly new (analogue) watch has started slowing and occasionally stopping. How can I check the battery's charge to see whether that's the problem or whether the watch is fundamentally horlicksed and needs to be sent back?
posted by Hogshead to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total)
You could use a multimeter to test the battery charge, but that seems like it would be more trouble than it's worth--especially if you don't have such a meter.

Instead, why not just take the watch to a watch shop and have a new battery put in? The cost should be under $10, and you would instantly know if the problem was battery-related.
posted by richardhay at 5:42 AM on June 4, 2006

richardhay -- The problem with walking into a watch shop and asking them to change your battery, is that the watch shop (usually a jewelry store) is not really interested in doing this for you, when they could be selling a $1,000 bracelet. It just takes a certain amount of social courage, or indifference, to stand there with the diamonds and gold and rings all around you, holding out your cheap little watch, and asking them to make an under $10 sale. They'll do it, but they give you a "look." They do this to me, and I'm a tall white male who looks and dresses like a CEO. Their disappointment when they find out I'm not there to buy a pearl necklace for my mistress is palpable. I can only imagine what it's like if you look at all unconventional.
posted by Faze at 8:48 AM on June 4, 2006

Whenever I need a watch battery changed, I take it to the jewelry counter at my local big-box retailer. The advantage to this is that they are used to people not buying things and they (usually) don't act like pretentious jackasses. The disadvantage to this is that the person changing your watch battery will not be an expert jeweler.

This works OK for me because I have never bought a watch that cost more than $100 in my life (I lose things.) If you have a really nice watch, this might not work for you.
posted by SteveTheRed at 9:16 AM on June 4, 2006

Faze: Your experience is certainly different than mine. I've had batteries changed at both big box and local jewerly stores without any 'looks.' I would guess that they do so hoping that I will return when I am in the market for a jewerly purchase.
posted by richardhay at 9:32 AM on June 4, 2006

In the past, I've steered clear of jewelry stores and anything at the mall. If you check your city's yellow pages, you'll likely find stores that specialize in just watches, clocks, and batteries (for the clocks and watches, of course). In the ones I've used, not only do they have all the right batteries, but they are quick to replace them and charge a fair rate. And, since many of these stores tend to be family owned and not corporate conglomerates, they generally appreciate your business.

Also, I've noticed that many watches, if you do not wear them often, drain the battery quickly. I once heard that it was something with the movement of the watch by being on your wrist that keeps it charged. Like I said, I don't know if this is true or why it works; I do know that my day to day watch has been going strong for years, but my dress watch has gone through several batteries because it tends to sit longer between use. Obviously, if you wear yours daily and it still frequently has problems, it's time to check the battery or maybe even the watch mechanisms.
posted by galimatias at 9:59 AM on June 4, 2006

Yeah Faze I don't know what places you are going to but my experience has been completely the opposite. There's a little outfit in the corner of my local Rite-Aid drugstore where a guy sits behind a counter and it seems like his only function is to change watch batteries and sell watch bands. There was no jewelry, and he seemed perfectly happy to pop open my watch for $4 and change the battery. In fact he seemed so happy that someone actually came over to him (he had one of those portable DVD players to kill his boredom) that he seemed like he would have paid me to give him an excuse to do something.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:06 AM on June 4, 2006

Never had Faze's experience, either - but it could be a location thing.

As for the wearing-watch-slower-battery-drain, this could be a confirmation bias when in reality watches that you don't wear, well, you don't think about the battery until it stops working. Also, some watches might just drain juice faster.

Now to actually address the question - if the watch is rated as water resistant/proof, the bigbox and jewlery store battery changers won't be able to return the watch to certifiable water resistance/proof (generally). You'll have to take it to a dedicated watchmaker/manufacturer or someone who's certified to perform such an operation. If in doubt - ask.

Not a problem if you don't plan on swimming/falling-over-the-side-of-a-boat/showering with it, but just something to keep in mind.
posted by porpoise at 11:13 AM on June 4, 2006

I have had Faze's experience, only worse. I gave my wife a watch for her birthday, and a year later, the battery gave out. We took it to a jewelry store, and the "jeweler" proceeded to bend the face while trying to get the back off. They then sent it off for repair, but forgot where they'd sent it. Eventually, they agreed to buy a replacement, but I had to find the exact model. I found a place that repaired that brand of watch, who had catalogs of them (the place I bought it was gone). When I told the repair guy which watch it was, he asked who the jeweler who'd lost it was. He then went in the back and came out with my wife's watch. The jewelry store had sent it to him for repair, but screwed up the paperwork somehow, so he had not started on it. He repaired it, but it was never right after that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:34 PM on June 4, 2006

Response by poster: Yeah, but how can I check the battery's charge? I don't have a multimeter.
posted by Hogshead at 4:27 AM on June 7, 2006

Just take it to the guy at the mall. That's his job, he'll be able to tell you whether it just needs a new battery or whether something else is wrong. In order for you to do anything yourself you'd have to figure out how to take the back off the watch, and that is probably the hardest part anyway. If you don't have a multimeter then you probably also don't have the specialized tools required to get the back off without marring the finish, so it doesn't really matter.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:01 PM on June 7, 2006

Best answer: For the record: I took the watch to a jewellery and watch shop on the King's Road in London. They (a) couldn't answer my question, and (b) scratched the back of the watch so that it chafed my wrist. As in: after three hours' wear, it had drawn blood.

My question no longer needs to be answered because I have thrown the watch away.

Thanks a bunch, Mefi.
posted by Hogshead at 8:25 PM on August 22, 2006

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