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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 My grandma gave it to me a good decade ago, but rather than going out-of-date, it seems to have grown into some kind of retro fashion item.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’.

Aftab says:
21 May 2017

Hi All, Just some friendly advise, if in the Reading, Berkshire area. I’d recommend to James Bloor jewellers in Tilehurst Reading. Compared to the rip off merchants in town who are rude when you question prices, these guys are more reasonable and had quality experience. 3 watch batteries replaced and still cheaper than the price of 1 from the town franchises. Plus the staff are friendly and has a home family run business feel about it.

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.

Robert James says:
23 May 2017

Well the big boys fail customer service again, just received a parcel from a trade client who had a client take her watch into them as the minute hand had come adrift.

Apparently she had the battery changed at a well known major high street jewellers with the initials H.S. and after a few days the minute hand dropped off and just needed refitting (not a major job) the client went back to H.S. and asked if they would refit said hand, they said no and refused to be of any help.

I love the large companies who when advertising extol there customer service and then fail at the first hurdle driving customers to smaller businesses who do actually care.

danny robin says:
17 August 2017

i was told it would be £150 to change my capasitor on my seiko the wath only cost£250 this is rubbish

Profile photo of TheWotcher

Hi Danny,

That sounds like a service price with the manufacturer. Capacitors are quite a lot more expensive than batteries but should cost you no more than £50 including a seal test. This is as long as the movement is OK. There’s a small chance that it could be a movement fault. You’ll need somebody experienced though as Kinetic watches can be a little awkward to do.

Robert James says:
19 August 2017

Hi Danny
I agree with TheWotcher to supply and fit a new capacitor should be anything from £30 to £50 depending on model and whether you have a water pressure test or not.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen

I’ve just bought a new watch, from a small Singapore brand, after not wearing a watch for a number of years… the one I wrote about in this piece is sitting in a drawer somewhere.

Let’s see how long it takes before it needs its battery replaced. I certainly won’t be spending as much as I did to replace the battery last time!

Profile photo of duncan lucas

The above conversation on KInetic watches is very interesting . First of all the Seiko replacement “capacitor ” is not a genuine capacitor but a combination of a rechargeable battery and a capacitor . They sell on Amazon for under £20 post free and according to a website on this a poster states he changed one in 20 minutes and it was “easy ” another poster who said he was “ham-fisted ” broke his ,a third guy said the official Seiko replacement on Amazon didn’t last long . Now it so happens that in my younger days I kept up to date with innovation (genuine ) and was one of the first people in my area to buy a kinetic watch , very expensive BUT it was , in my eyes a “genuine ” one NO battery but a inductance coil a few shakes and off it would go and yes I still have it somewhere , obviously too dear to sell nowadays . Thats the whole point of saying the word “kinetic ” -NO battery to drive it. More advertising “slight of hand ” .

Profile photo of duncan lucas

Correction to above -found the watch it doesn’t contain an inductance coil.

Profile photo of TheWotcher

Easy is relative. With a Kinetic (as opposed to an Eco-Drive capacitor for example), you need to:

1- Remove the back
2- Remove the rotor
3- Remove the battery clamp and insulator
4- Remove the capacitor
5- Refit the new capacitor in the correct orientation (important or it won’t work)
6- Refit the insulator and the clamp. Do this incorrectly and the rotor won’t rotate
7- Refit the rotor
8- Do any sealing jiggery-pokery

You also need to ensure that you get the right capacitor. Some have the same designation but aren’t actually the same capacitor. Obviously all the usual battery fitting considerations also need to be taken into account in order to do this properly so as not to damage the movement. If you have a steady hand and a little knowledge it’s relatively easy but then fitting a simple battery is even easier and I see that done badly all the time.

Profile photo of duncan lucas

I am not arguing with your post Wotcher it just backs up the fact that not all human beings are technically minded nor have the co-ordination of mind+body to work on engineering of any sort. But I am sad that in my era this country was filled with people having the ability to do engineering work themselves . Changing this country from an industrialised nation to a service industry nation is to my mind an act of gross vandalism and short-sighted political dogma.