How quickly can we Change a Quartz Watch Movement?

For someone with experience, changing a quartz watch movement is not a complicated job.  It requires some specific tools, some time, and the correct replacement movement.

For those of you who may be watching this because you don’t have any, or maybe little experience with changing a movement, don’t worry.   I’ve been doing this 21 years, and I get told by my customers that I make it look easy.   For me, time is money.  As long as I do a repair correctly, don’t break anything, and set up for it, I can get a movement changed in as little time as show in the video below…  Watch and Enjoy.

Watch the video here...

What Tools will you need?

Tools are an important part of watch repair.  Having the best tools you can afford to do the work that needs to be done is important.  Certain tools, you should not skimp on.

Here is a quick list, (with affiliate lines to purchase) of the tools that you will need to perform this particular work.


Watchmaker Screwdrivers are something you will use Every day.  They are good to have, and if you don’t have a set of these, pictured to the left, get yourself a good set of drivers and you won’t be disappointed.

Watchmaker’s Case Press.  This is used for many different functions in watch repair.  First, you can press on the back covers of watch cases.  This is very handy, and if done correctly, case backs can be bent and damaged.  They are also used to press crystals into place, and put an even force of pressure on the crystal to press it into place.  Other functions, include pressing on the bezels for diver’s watches, rolex diamond bezels, etc.

Here is a complete set of case openers.  It is a good price, and I feel that it contains all the tools you will need to do most basic watch caseback opening and closing.  You cannot open or tighten Rolex or Breitling watches with these tools, but they are good for just about every other watch on the market, that is about 98% of all others!

Putting hands back onto a watch movement is a delicate job.  Having the correct tools to do this is very important.  These pushers make like a lot easier to set the hands on a watch.  Most have silicone or plastic tips that won’t damage the hands, and reduce the chance of slipping onto the dial causing more damage.

Pulling off a set of watch hands can be intimidating.  Hand pullers, when used with a dial protector or a thick plastic sheet, can make lifting the hands off very easy.  once done, the hands can be set aside to be put back on later.

Here are the steps to follow...

Step 1:

Remove the back of the watch from the case, either with a opening knife, or with a twist tool

Step 2:

Find the little push tab on the back of the watch movement that should be located near where the step of the watch attaches to the movement.  using a small screwdriver, gently press the pusher to release the clutch on the movement, and pull the crown and stem out of the watch.  The little pusher is usually marked by an ‘Arrow’ or the word “push” on the back of the watch movement.

Step 3:

Remove the battery

Step 4: 

Remove the watch from the case.  The watch will almost always come right out, but occasionally, you may run into an issue wither the watch movement has to be removed from the case from the crystal side.  These are tricky, because you will have to remove the bezel and crystal of the watch before you can remove the movement.  Most common watches like this today, are made by Skagen.

Step 5:

Remove the hands from the watch.  Use the had puller tool, and a dial protector or plastic sheet to cover the face of the watch.  Gently put the pry end of the puller tools under the hands, and lift the hands off the movement’s center post, called the cannon pinion and hour wheels.  Put the hands in a safe place.  If there is a seperate small hand for the seconds indicate, gently follow the same proccedure to remove the second hand.

Step 6:

Remove the movement from the dial.  Typically the dial is attached to the movement with two small delicate posts.  In this case, the movement must be lifted from the dial evenly.  Other dials may be attached with small screws that hold the post onto the movement.  These small screws usually require a 1/2 turn in either directly to release the dial feet (posts) from the movement.


Step 7:

In some cases, new movements do not have the small hour wheel on the movement, you may have to attach it first.  In the package, look for a small brass gear, and if it exists, use a pair of tweezers to lift it onto the movement.  If the movement has the hour wheel already attached, look to make sure that there isn’t a small little cap on the end of the cannon pinion holding the hour wheel down.  If that little cap is on the watch, gently remove it, but don’t let the hour wheel fall off.  In the video below, the hour wheel is attached to the movement, and held in place by the movement case, so no other work needed to be done on this movement.

Step 8:

When you are ready to attach the dial to the new movement, look for the small notch on the side of the dial, almost always located at the “3” o’clock position.  This little notch on the outer paratemiter of the dial indicates where the stem and crown approach from.  

Attach the dial in the reverse process in which you took it off.  Make sure that the pegs, or dial feet, go into the new movement correctly and that they are not bent.  They can bend easy, so be careful when handling them.  Once the movement is attached, flip the watch and movement over, so as to expose the dial side up.

Step 9:

Attaching the hands.  In this case, there is no date indicator, however, if your movement has a date indicator, you will have to insert the stem and crown into the watch movement, pull the step out to the second click, and forward the time, until the date changes.  Once the date changes, forward, stop.  Push the crown in to the normal running position, then remove it as we did before. 

Once the stem is again removed, make sure the dialside is up, and read the hour hand onto the hour wheel, lay it gently, and aim for the 12:00 position.

Your hand pushers come in a variety of sizes, and should have small holes in them at the tips.  The reason for the holes is so that you do not cause damage to the cannon pinion or the second hand post sticking up through the hour wheel.

With the hour hand set atop the hour wheel, use your hand pusher to gently push the hour hand onto the hour wheel, keeping it strait and aimed at the 12 position.  Push it down util there is space below it, and that the top of the hour wheel is exposed flat, surrounding the cannon pinion.  

Next, place the minute hand on top of the cannon pinion, aiming again, at the 12 on the dial.  Both hands should be aimed straight up!  Use the appropriate size hand pusher to push the minute hand down over the hour hand.  Make sure that you keep enough distance between the hands, so as the minute and hour hands do not touch each other, as this will cause the watch to not run correctly or even damage the movement.

Lastly, grab the second hand, and very gently place it onto the second hand post.  Find the correct hand pusher, the one that has no hole at the tip, and gently push straight down, again, leaving room between the hands as not to stop the movement from running because the hands touch.

Step 10:

holding the movement and dial carefully as not to get fingerprints on the front surface of the dial, place the dial/movement back into the watch case in the reverse order that you removed it.  Aligne the dial so that the little notch is aimed towards the case tube, (the hole in the side of the watch where the crown and stop are inserted).

Step 11:

Insert the battery, and check that the watch is running…  If so, great!  If not, maybe the stem was removed incorrectly, and locked the movement into the second click position.  We’ll check…

Step 12: 

Insert the stem/crown  If you are replacing a bad movement with the same model movement, then you can use the same crown and stem assembly, if not, you will have to cut down the stem and either fit a new crown or place the original crown onto the new stem.   

Once the stem/crown have been pushed into the movement, Gently, you should hear a slight click.  The watch should be running, and if it is… Great!

Step 13:

If the watch is running, you’ve don your job correctly.  Now its time to put the case back together.  If it is a screwdown caseback, then either screw it in, or place the case screws back into the watch and tighten it down.  Don’t tighten so tight that no one can get if off again, and over tightening a watch caseback can damage the threads, as well as the gaskets.  Use common sense.

Step 14:

Revel in your success!

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