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Complain for change: don’t be embarrassed to say ‘no’

Watch with battery showing

How much should you pay to get your watch battery changed? A couple of quid? Under a tenner? How about £25? That’s the sum I was charged recently as I reluctantly handed over my watch.

I haven’t worn a watch for quite some time, but I do have a small collection of ‘dead’ watches in my bedside drawer. I’ve spent the past few years limiting my time-telling to checking the clock on my smartphone.

However, I thought I’d start sporting my Casio watch again. My grandma gave it to me a good decade ago, but rather than going out-of-date, it seems to have grown into some kind of retro fashion item.

So, all I needed to do was get a new battery installed. Simple; I’ll just pop to my nearest cobblers/locksmith – you know the ones where they repair shoes, cut keys, replace watch batteries and the like. I can’t remember the last time I did this, so I just asked the man over the counter whether he could replace the battery and he said ‘yes, of course’. He ushered me to hand over my watch…

How much should replacing a watch battery cost?

The cost of replacing your watch battery will depend on the watch. If it’s a waterproof Omega, you may have to pay as much as £65 to send it off to be done professionally. They can replace the seal and guarantee its continued water resistance.

For a normal watch, it can depend on where you go. A jeweler may charge you around £10. A market watch repairer could charge just £3. In fact, Bill Burnell told me on Twitter that it costs him ‘the price of the battery with free fitting as a courtesy’. For reference, most watch batteries cost one or two pounds.

So, how much did the man over the counter ask me to pay? £24.95. I was a little taken aback, but felt I had almost promised to hand over my watch – I couldn’t turn him down.

He got busy with his specialist tools, popped in a new battery, and handed it back in under 10 minutes. He added, ‘I’m sorry I don’t know how to set it. That’s £24.95 please’. I paid and said ‘don’t worry, I can do that’.

Paying more than the price of your watch

I don’t know why I went through with it. I had my chance to say ‘no, don’t worry, I’ll go somewhere cheaper’. It’s not really like me to be embarrassed but, on this occasion, I wasn’t really sure how much it should have cost. I’m even more bitter now that I’ve spotted you can buy the same watch from Argos for £19.99…

In a way, I’m broadly happy to pay £25 if it helps keep these independent shops afloat in this time of shops going bust. Should I complain? I don’t think so. It was my fault for handing over my watch. I just shouldn’t be embarrassed to say ‘no’.


The important thing is to ask the correct questions and not assume anything when you take your watch in for a battery.

1) Are the batteries a quality silver oxide
2) Are the seals checked and replaced if misshaped /damaged
3) Is the crown/stem seal checked and lubricated
4) Is there a pressure test service available if required
5) Are the case and bracelet cleaned to remove any trapped dirt?

If the answer to all of these questions is yes, how long will it take and what is the charge.
Anything less than fifteen minutes they are only removing the back putting in the battery and refitting the back again.


Had a call from a gentleman a couple of days ago asking if I had any of the tiny screws that hold down a battery strap for a watch, apparently he had tried to change the battery on a couple of watches and lost the screws when they pinged off.

As there are a large number of screws used I asked him to bring the watches in and I would either have the correct ones in stock or I would be able to order them in once I was able to see which calibres they were.

Well he came in today with one watch telling me he used one of the other screws from it to fix the other watch, when I removed the case back he had lost the strap securing screw and had used one of the screws from the coil to fix the other. I found the correct screws in my spares and proceeded to fit them but discovered a disaster, he had damaged the coil when his screwdriver slipped and when I fitted the battery the movement was dead as a Dodo.

The bad news is the movement fitted is now obsolete, but the good news is replacement coils are still available so he has had a expensive lesson and his wife will have her watch back on her wrist in the next few days.


Well another new customer who decided to take his watch to the local St Albans heel bar and now regrets it.

A gentleman phoned on Monday asking if I would be able to sort his quartz analogue/digital watch which had misted up. He brought it to me today apparently he had a new battery fitted a few weeks ago at a nationwide high street heel bar, last week he jumped into the swimming pool with his daughter forgetting he was wearing his watch which is approximately ten years old and of sentimental value.

Well the inevitable happened it filled with water even though it was originally water resistant to 100meters, as I removed the case back the reason for the entry of water was obvious the original seal was half missing and instead of telling the client the previous people just took the money and said nothing.

Fortunately as the client brought it to me fairly quickly there wasn’t too much water damage and the slight rusting which had started to appear was quickly dealt with.

I dried the movement and fitted a new battery, fortunately it started working although the digital part wasn’t functioning properly, I thoroughly cleaned and dried the case/bracelet lubricated the push buttons and crown/stem seals, refitted the movement plus new case back seal then the case back.

The digital part may start working properly once the circuit board has dried properly but that maybe wishful thinking.

Craig says:
9 June 2017

Yes I was quoted £20 to replace a battery in a casio watch in the Oracle, Reading. Complete ripoff – you can buy the batteries AND a complete set of tools for less than £6 on amazon.

Nigel says:
3 August 2017

As a watch repairer with many, many years experience, that is the attitude of somebody who will:

– Scratch a coil
– Lose a battery clamp
– Not AC it
– Fit the wrong battery
– Strip a screw head
– Not be able to get the back off/on
– Lose the alarm spring
– Lose/squash/cut the back gasket
– Snap the neg contact
– Drop dirt in the watch clogging the movement
– Lose the module surround
– Lift the movement contacts above the pushers
– Break the dial feet
– Knock the hands off
– Snap a rigid strap
– Not be able to set the watch up correctly

… the list goes on.

The idea that all you need are the tools is pretty ignorant. While £20 sounds a bit steep to fit a battery in some Casio watches, a large number of them are very complicated, particularly WaveCeptor or dual display models. It’s more work by a distance than fitting a battery in a Breitling and resealing it. The world is full of people who think things are a rip off. Normally it’s because they don’t understand the process.

Mike says:
5 January 2018

I charge between £5 and £8 to fit a Silver Oxide battery to most any basic Quartz watch. I then test the watch and re-assemble properly. I do not conduct a hydrostatic pressure test but apply a touch of Sil Grease to the rear plate O ring or replace as required. Extra work is of course at extra cost. Yes, I am an amateur watch repairer of most types of watch except F300 and Accutron and one or two others for which I cannot obtain replacement parts. This is a hobby for me and what anyone else does I do no know.

M. Travis. says:
11 July 2018

Yes, Spot on Nigel. I am Not a watchmaker just an amateur Jobber Fixer. I had training from an old Vacheron Constantin Geneva trained watchmaker many years ago alas, now gone. Only one comment to make, that is stay away from boot repairers/key cutters if you want your watch properly serviced. Just commenting on the the damaged Quartz watches that have been brought to me for re-instatement.