Quartz Watch Circuit Boards

I’m not often a proponent of replacing a circuit board on a quartz watch, but learning how to do this repair can safe someone a lot of money.  The reason, in reality, is that most movements are rather inexpensive.  The average price for a quartz watch movement is still under $60.00.

That being said, I usually recommend to my customers, that for the price, it is usually better for the longevity of the watch as a whole, to replace the entire movement, which, is like putting a new engine in a car.  However, there are times where it is not practical.

Click here, to see a complete movement replacement in a quartz watch.


Watch the video below...

When should you change the circuit board?

There are two reasons why I would change a circuit board on a quartz watch, as I’ve mentioned earlier, price is a strong factor.  The reason price matters is that because a lot of the movements in watches I see for repair are very inexpensive.  A typical price for a complete replacement movement on 80% of watches in use is about $60 to $80 retail.  

Some of these movement cost me as little as $ 5.00, and average cost is about $25.00.  This is the main reason I don’t always replace a circuit board.  

The cost of some quartz movements can cost (wholesale) from $90.00 to $300.00.  Sometimes, even more.  While these movements are rare, if I had to quat a customer $1000.00 to replace a quartz movement, they may just want to through it away and buy a new one.  I wouldn’t blame them either!

It is because of these reasons, the high cost of a replacement movement, that the replacement of the circuit board only, makes a lot of sense.  Typically, the board may cost 10% of the price of the entire movement, but, even half the cost is a bargain.


The second reason to replace only the circuit board, is really to solve a problem of availability.  Maybe the watch movement is no longer made, or out of stock.  In some cases, I may be able to find a circuit board from an upgraded movement, that is identical to the original, and while the entire movement will not fix the watch, the board will get the original watch working perfectly.

Some quality manufacturers even sell the circuit boards to us watchmakers.  Unlike many mechanical manufacturers that hoard their parts.  (Another story, Another Time!)

So, lets look a common example…

lets say a customer comes in with a broken watch, and I’m able to determine that it is the quartz crystal, or coil that is broken or damaged.  The movement may be an ETA 955.xxx that has a replacement movement cost of around $120.00, (retail of about 250.00).  I can get a circuit board for that movement for around $30.00, and have the watch working in 30 minutes.  My charge to the customer may be between $60.00 and $100.00 (wholesale/retail).  Much less than the cost of the replacement movement.  

Changing the board didn't fix it!

OK!  So, you’ve replaced the circuit board, and it didn’t fix the watch…  This is something you should have examined earlier, but, these things do happen.  Here is a short list of things to examine on the watch, before you go and order a new circuit board…

  1. Examine the watch for corrosion.  If water damaged or if a battery leaks, it can damage not just the circuit board, but the gears in the watch also.
  2. Is the movement very dirty?  If so, we can actually service a quartz watch just like we do a mechanical watch, just remember, we have to be more careful when working with these as they are built with plastics, not just metals.  
  3. Is the coil Damaged?  Sometimes, when people open up the back of a watch, they will do damage to the circuit board or break wires on the copper coil.  Examine carefully under magnification.  If this is the case, a new circuit board will be the correct answer.
  4. Check battery contacts.  If the contacts are built onto the board, and have been broken off, a new board is a likely repair.

As I said before, we can service the gears on a quartz watch, but I’m not going to explain any of that now, since it is the subject of an up coming video and article.

Good luck guys, and thank you for taking the time to check my site out.



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