How to fix a battery operated clock

There are a lot of times when a quartz clock fails.  While I had my retail operation up and running, we would get in three or four clocks a week that were battery operated and did not work well.  Some of the issues for these quartz wall clocks and battery operated desk clocks were easy to repair, while others required some more time and effort.

In the video below, I’ll cover the process of taking a small quartz clock apart, checking all the gears and cleaning it out.  As we go forward with the assembly, we will double check the gears, oil parts that should be oiled and snap it all back together to make a working and well running quartz battery operated clock again.

Common Quartz Clock

Watch the video here...

Common Problems with Quartz Clocks

Without going into too much detail, I’ll give you some examples of common problems I’ve see for the bast twenty years with quartz clocks that my customers have brought in for service.  I’ll also cover some of the solutions that I would recommend for repair.

The clock does not run!

This can be for the following reasons.  

  1. The battery is bad:  Don’t laugh…  Many people bring me clocks with dead batteries.  Simply putting a new battery in can be a simple fix to a simple problem.
  2. The battery contacts are bad:  Many times, I see clocks that come in with rusty or battery acid corrosion on the batter contacts of the clock.  My recommendation first, is to take a little bit of sandpaper, and clean the contacts.  Put a new battery in, and see if it works.  In some cases, if the battery corrosion is bad, the acid may have gotten into the clock and destroyed it.  This may need a new clock movement, since it is difficult to clean out.
  3. The owner changed the time by moving the hands backwards:  There are little dials, knobs or wheels in the back of a clock so that you set the time there.  I know it sounds stupid to say that, but, grabbing the minute hand and turning the clock backwards can damage the gears.  Gears in a clock are arranged in a specific order, and the gears that take the lease tension are the gears that hold the minute and second hands.  Because the lower gears in the clock are heavier, if you turn the hands using the minute hand, you can break teeth off the smaller gears.  Always use the knob in the back of the clock.
  4. Chiming Battery Clocks don’t chime:  First, check to see if there are multiple batteries that run the clock.  Sometimes, a battery is used for the clock, and another or several others are used to drive the audio board for the chiming or music.  Check all batteries, and maybe just change them all once a year.
  5. Clock tics, but does not move:  Usually this is for one of two reasons.  A broken gear, or the hands are rubbing against each other.  Hand clearance is important.  Hands on a clock need to be at levels above and below each other, and should never touch each other.  
  6. Hands Fell off:  This is usually due to the clock being dropped or mis-handled.  It is common also, when you move from one location to another, as things can get banged around.  Most often, I see clocks come in that have just fallen off a wall, and perhaps this was caused by a loose wall mount or nail holding up the clock.  Even battery operated clocks can weigh in above twenty pounds.  Make sure the mounting location can support the clock.

These are the most common issues.

Simple fixes to try first!

Before you take your quartz battery clock in for service, make sure you check first, the following.  

  1. Battery
  2. Clean contacts
  3. Listen to the clock for a ticking noise
  4. Obvious damage

Replacing quartz clocks can be simple and affordable.  Some clocks, such as those that chime, those with pendulums, or others that play music can cost a small fortune in relation to the original purchase price.

Consider the following…  A generic wall clock may only have a $10.00 movement it in.  However, it may be made by a company that does not sell parts for that clock, and a replacement can not just be purchased and swapped.  Some times we have to change the entire style of the movement, and put all new hands on the clock itself because they may not be compatible with the original.

Other types of Quartz clocks can have pendulums that are special sizes.  There are many types of quartz movements, and each has to match the ability to handle things like large, heaving hands, long pendulums or music boxes that play on the hour or every fifteen minutes.

Some of these movements may all look alike, however, trust me when I say, you want to replace the original with at lease the exact same model.  Lower priced models can actually cause other problems since they may not be able to run your particular clock.

In general, the clock shown in the video is just a basic generic clock.  However, since it is a non-commom model, it was easy for me just to fix it.  Yes, these generic movements only cost around $10.00, but if I had to replace it with a different style, I would need to get a different set of hands, and make sure that it actually fit into the clock.

Movements can cost between $5.00 to $500.00 for battery operated clocks.  Keep that in mind, and remember, the complexity of your clock will determine how much it cost to replace the movement.

The last consideration you should think about is labor cost if you take your clock to a shop to have it fixed.  A simple inexpensive kitchen clock that only runs the time and needs a new movement, may cost more to have it fixed than to purchase a new one.  Other clocks however, may be more practical to have serviced by a professional.


Thanks for watching, and I hope that you’ve enjoyed the video, and if you have any questions, please let us know.

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