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How much should replacing a watch battery cost?

How much should you pay to get your watch battery changed? A couple of quid? Under a tenner? How about £25? Where’s best and cheapest to replace watch batteries?

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 My grandma gave it to me a good decade ago, but rather than going out-of-date, it seems to have grown into some kind of retro fashion item.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

Comments
bishbut says:
8 September 2017

The problem is removing the back from the watch not changing the battery Most things are made so that is difficult to do simple repairs that many people could do themselves
Knowing how to remove the casings or covers is the thing to know not how to replace the faulty part (battery)in many products

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Of course it can all be justified because modern manufacturing techniques give us more reliable circuit boards and products that can be efficiently mass produced and easy and cheap to assemble. Never mind if repair requires specialist equipment or cannot be carried out cost effectively. We have to keep spending to support the economy. What a crazy world we live in.

Where is my pentalobe screwdriver ….

Do we want cheap products?. In 1970 a washing machine cost around 3x the average weekly wage; now it can be bought with 3 days average pay.

Collectively – I guess we do. If we did not, those cheap washing machines would not be flying off the warehouse shelves at the likes of Argos and AO.

But perhaps every cheap washer or dryer should come with free accessories, including a smoke alarm and a fire extinguisher…

Oops Timson’s incompetence strikes again, just had a gentleman come in with his TISSOT T-Sport which had stopped initially he went into Timson’s for a new battery which they fitted after talking him into a lifetime battery change for £40

After a few days he noticed it was losing time quite badly so he returned to Timson’s asking them to have a look, they proceeded to tell him it would need a new movement. After a quick phone call to myself he brought it in for me to look at and give an opinion, on removing the case back it was obvious what the problem was, wrong battery fitted so it was not making full contact as it moved around I fitted the correct size and all is well.

Then the gentleman asked me to change the battery in his dive watch, again as soon as I removed the case back I noticed something wasn’t quite right and asked who changed the battery last time to which he said Timson’s, I checked the technical details for the movement and again it had the wrong battery fitted.

That is three wrong sized batteries fitted by these people which I have had to deal with in less than seven days.

How do they get away with this sort of service, they should be ashamed of themselves, if they don’t really care they shouldn’t be doing it.

Sorry correction, it is two incorrect batteries fitted and one not fitted correctly in less than seven days.

I have an Omega Constellation which needs a new battery. Does this need to be taken to an Omega store for replacement & resealing, or is this something I could get done elsewhere? I won’t be going near that well known shoe repairer! Any idea what it might cost?

Hello Susan,

a small independent jeweller preferably with a watch repairer on the premises should be able to do the battery change for you.

Omega use a special hard plastic/nylon type gasket on the case back which requires fitting in the correct sequence otherwise the back will not grip and will fall off, I suggest you ask whoever is doing the job to lubricate the crown/winding button and before you leave the shop with your watch just flick the case back with your finger nail to make sure it is correctly fitted.

I would expect the cost to be in the region of £10 to £15 as there is a tiny strap which holds the battery in place and has the habit of flying off when trying to refit it.

As regards the water resistance providing the case back gasket is replaced every third battery change and the crown/winding button is greased everything should be fine and a pressure test is only required if you swim wearing your watch on a regular basis.

I’m starting to get irritated with people who fit watch batteries that are not the correct size and seem to think it ok to do a bodge rather than say they don’t have the correct battery in stock, just had the third watch in two days were the battery is not the correct size and the person who fitted it has used either bluetac or whitetac to keep it in place.

This is a disgusting habit and totally unnecessary, keep all of the available size batteries in stock and then you don’t have a problem.

I don’t know how many different cells are in common use in watches, but maybe the manufacturers could help by using the more common cells in new watches. It’s encouraging that the majority of household gadgets take either AA or AAA cells these days.

At the moment there are 41 different silver oxide cells available although some are duplicated sizes, using the reference numbers starting with SR and ending with W these are for high drain movements such as chronographs and the cells ending with SW are for the more usual low drain movements. So in theory only about 15 or 20 are probably kept in stock by most people, I’m one of the few people who keeps every size in stock all of the time although this means I have to keep an eye on the sell by dates of the ones which are rarely used and send them for recycling when I receive my fresh stocks.

It’s about time the manufacturers did a bit of rationalisation. 🙁

TheWotcher mentioned that some watches also have a lithium battery.

Yes some are fitted with Lithium and tend to be in watches with alarms and other functions which can have a heavy drain on the batteries and will last approximately 2 to 5 years and when fitted into an ordinary timepiece the life will be 5 to 10 years, the only down side is the physical size of the Lithium’s.

Battery technology has moved very slowly and the design of movements have dramatically changed so the most popular size batteries currently are the 377/SR626SW, 364/SR621SW, 321/616SW and 371/SR920SW silver oxide.

The difficulty with trying to use the same battery for a number of different movements is that each movement has different requirements. As Robert mentioned before, certain movement types utilise a high-drain battery. Although there are around 60 different battery types (including lithium) the majority of watches do take only a few varieties. The 377 is used an awful lot. I reckon there are only about 10 batteries that are commonly used.

As Robert says, the problem comes when poor watch repairers start sticking in the wrong sizes when they either run out of of do not stock the correct type. I see this regularly. Put in a battery that is too small and it risks not keeping constant contact with the movement contacts causing the watch to stop and start. Putting in a battery that is too large can cause damage to the movement, especially when the case back is pressed on, potentially bending the movement.

Maybe it would help if the type of battery was shown on the back of the case or elsewhere, so that the stock can be checked prior to dismantling the watch.

It’s encouraging that certain types are widely used.

Some watches do have the battery reference engraved on the case back but that still doesn’t stop idiots from fitting the wrong size.

There are people who take great care and do their upmost to do the job properly and there are regretfully to many who don’t care probably because they don’t know any better and cause unnecessary damage.

If all watches showed the reference number, perhaps we might see an improvement. There seems little point in having to take the back off a watch to establish what type is needed. The same applies with many products. Printer manufacturers come in for a lot of criticism but it’s rarely necessary to refer to the manual to find out which ink cartridges are needed.

I’ve a Rotary watch with UC 364 engraved on the back.

Yes that indicates it is fitted with a 364/SR621SW (6.8mm x 2.15mm) silver oxide battery, but sometimes incompetents will try and fit a 377/SR626SW (6.8mm x 2.6mm) which is the same diameter but slightly thicker which then causes damage to the retaining clip and may cause damage to the movement if space inside the watch is limited.

Thanks Robert, I’ll check next time it need changing.

Interesting chat in this thread
In my day job I replace plenty watch batteries (and strap adjustments) daily, in an independent hardware store. We charge between £2.50 (it’s a low-income area with plenty competition) up to £4, depending on the watch/battery.
Inexpensive, but we do take pride in our work, and the customers understand that paying a fraction of what they would at a jewellers gives less guarantees .

To the seasoned experts in this thread – what advice do you have for someone like I (who may well be running the business in a few years time and would like to strengthen our reputation) to advance my knowledge and abilities in this field?
Any specific youtube channels or reading material worth checking out?

While we wait for recommendations, here is the first YouTube video I looked at this morning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFmV7NIjVsw

All you need is a hammer, a screwdriver from a pound store, a pair of pliers and a towel. 🙁 Then polish out the damage you have caused.

I wonder if he would use his hammer to remove a screw-on back.

I would say 99% of the You Tube videos show how NOT to change a battery, without doing a watch repairing course it is difficult to suggest where to go.

I’m glad to hear you want to make improvements and accepting you may be able to do better, the only advice I can give is firstly treat the watch irrespective of value as if it was your own, on push fit backs look closely for the groove (not always easy to find) and use a decent quality case knife not one of the cheap ones from India or China (mine is Swiss made with a large grip and cost me £40.00 and never fails) again a good quality case opener for screw backs preferably bench mounted is essential as the hand held slip very easily. If you are concerned that you may scratch the back put a piece of masking tape on to help protect it.

Once inside look closely at how the battery is held in place, always be gentle and careful when removing the old battery, once the new battery is in place just check you haven’t left any finger marks on the movement these can be removed with Rodico. Before refitting the case back always check the seal is not damaged and lubricate it, replace if necessary these are not expensive but will stop expensive damage from water entry.

Always fit the correct battery to avoid physical damage or returns due to it being too small so that it rattles around, and don’t be tempted to use BluTac or any other foreign objects to pack it out.

Observation and delicacy are the most important tools you need, also look at how you do things from the customers point of view and this will be a big help in improving service.

If you have any specific issues you would like help with please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to help.

Hi Robert – Can I ask about the grade of silicone oil/grease that is best for the case back and crown seal?

Hello wavechange,
I must admit I don’t know the chemical makeup of the silicon grease used but the branded ones available are Seiko TSF-451 or S916 these are plastic applicators with sponge inserts impregnated with the grease so you just pop the gasket into the pot put the lid on and give a couple of twists, this cleans and lubricates the gasket in one go. Other brands are available so if you go onto a well known auction site and put watch gasket grease into the search they will all come up including the same grease in screw top pots so you can reload the sponge applicators and also use to lubricate the crown/stem seals.

The other brands used in the trade are Bergeon KT22 and Silcon 7 or Molykote 111

Never use oil only silicone grease as the gaskets are made of silicone rubber so you need to use a lubricant which will not cause degradation of the seal.

Thanks Robert. I had used grease on the gasket and thick silicone oil on the crown/stem seal. Silicone oil/grease is graded according to viscosity, ranging from a fluid liquid to a grease. They don’t damage silicone rubber and other seals, unlike mineral oils.

Molykote is a brand name used by Dow Corning. I don’t know about grades but the company manufactures very high purity silicones for laboratory use. I would not be surprised if it is repackaged in small quantities and sold at an inflated price under other brand names. Laboratory high vacuum grease is an example of a high purity product but, from memory, might be too viscous for case seals.

The Molykote has a temperature range of 40*C to 200*C and comes in 100gm tubes also Fomblin UT18 which again comes in 100gm tubes and has a range of -30*C to 250*C both have a good range of materials which they are compatible with.

I don’t use silicone oil not that I have any issues with its use, as I always remove the crown and stem when I do a battery change I have easy access for filling the crown with grease were if I wanted to lubricate the crown/stem seals without removing them then the heavy silicone oil would be a definite benefit to run into the limited space available between the crown and case tube keeping in mind if to much is applied it could run into the watch case and possibly get into the movement.

Thanks again. I’m glad that you are buying in quantity. The first time I bought silicone grease was in a tiny container, for use as a heatsinking compound for electronics. I then discovered that there was a much more effective product for the job and it was much more affordable.

I would advise hydra150 to make sure no silicone grease gets on the battery or contacts because it is an excellent insulator.

Hello hydra150. I’m going to assume I’m a seasoned expert 🙂 It’s nice to see somebody show a genuine interest in doing a good job. The best way to learn is to spend as much time as possible with as many experienced and skilled watchmakers as you can. Some will be good at some things, others will be good at other things and you’ll pick up many helpful skills along the way. I’ve worked with watchmakers before who have Rolex accreditations or worked for other top brands, and the variety of watches that they see is limited so they become very good at repairing 20 different watches and have no experience of the vast majority of timepieces that people actually wear. Manufacturers are also typically very limited as to the kind of repair they will carry out, regularly preferring to replace rather than repair so you can only learn so much from them. Experience and care is key so learn on the job as much as possible but be wary of anything you aren’t sure of.

I’d suggest popping on YouTube and watching Mark Lovick’s videos. You’ll learn a lot and he gives good, practical advice. I hope I’ve been of some help.

Thanks for the suggested YouTube videos, which are nicely produced and don’t seem to involve hammers or pliers. 🙂 It was interesting to see how a glass is fitted.

I totally agree with TheWotcher, if you can find watch repairers nearby who you can get to know and see how they deal with different issues which you may not be familiar with plus lots of practice on old movements just to help familiarise yourself with as many calibres as possible.

Then when something different comes in you will have the confidence to take on slightly more challenging jobs as the basics are the same just done in a slightly different way eg ETA to Miyota, as I previously said observation is most important and if something needs to be forced something is wrong, so simply observation, delicate touch and don’t rush the job and Mark Lovick’s You Tube vids are probably the best out there.

I’m curious about what style of watch case knife you find to be worth spending a bit extra on specifically? And what differentiates it from the cheaper Chinese copies in your opinion. With slim profits like mine, £40 is quite a sum to spend on a knife, so I don’t want to misspend.

.

I appreciate your position with tight margins but when it comes to the equipment to do the job then it is better to purchase quality as it does last and over time works out to be more economical.

In answer to your question I use the Horotec case knife, it has a decent sized handle which is easily gripped and the blade is quick and easy to change if required. I did snap the pointed end off the blade when I was trying to prise something that was tight but I was able to reshape it on the grinder so I’m still on my first blade which I occasionally polish the edge to make sure that it does not have any serrations from opening watches and I still have a spare blade just in case.

Cousins now supply a knife which looks the same and is cheaper, I believe the Horotec blades will also fit so this may be worth looking at.

I have used case knives from the far east and India and they have hardly lasted a day before becoming serrated and rough, my Swiss blade I will re polish with fine emery paper and finally on the polishing buff to give it a super smooth finish probably once in four months.

I find a Stanley knife blade works well to get inside many things

The problem with Stanley blades is they are very brittle and will snap and break, also the sharp edge can damage the watch case if great care is not used but I agree they can be useful when trying to open things with a very fine gap.

The case knife has only one angled side on the edge so that it works as a wedge which forces the case back open, as it is flat one side and angled on the other this gives the blade more strength compared to a normal blade which has angles on both sides to create a cutting edge.

Just had a very nice lady come in with her GUCCI watch and an unhappy face, apparently she had been somewhere to have the battery replaced to be told the original battery had leaked and the movement was a no go.

I popped the back off and yes there was signs the battery had leaked as the bottom contact had the slightest indication of corrosion starting which I was able to clean off but the main problem was the insulator which stops the contact shorting against the movement had been eaten away, so new insulator and battery fitted hey presto it fired into life and the nice lady left the shop happy with a smile on her face.

I can only assume the previous person had not used their observational skills or common sense before saying the watch was kaput or being a pessimist maybe they hoped the customer would say fix it charge for a movement and just fit the new insulator.

Well the large multiples show their money grabbing incompetence again. Just had a lady and gentleman in with a Raymond Weil which they bought four months ago, it had stopped and so they returned to the shop they had purchased it from to be told it requires a new battery and will have to be returned to Raymond Weil at a cost of £90.00 the customers said they are not paying that for a four month old watch.

I know batteries and leather straps are never covered by the warranty which comes with any watch but only four months and expected lifespan of two years, the watch had obviously been in the shops stock for some time and the least they could do as a gesture of goodwill would be replace the battery free of charge on such an expensive timepiece and as for the charge of £90.00 what are they doing to justify that sort of cost on a new watch?

I suspect that that price is the retail price of sending the watch to the manufacturer for a battery and reseal. I’m staggered that they’ve tried charging for a watch so new though. I used to work for a large multiple and they used to guarantee the battery for a year from the date of purchase, the least you’d expect. I can’t help but wonder if the customer got a clueless staff member.

The Raymond Weil service centre charges £60.00 retail, I think it was probably a combination of not understanding customer service and being too rigid on company rules.
Also this sort of stupidity will get worse as the larger concerns don’t give staff the basic training and tools to be able to do a straightforward battery change in store, so I won’t complain too much as it means more work for us independents thank you very much.

The Raymond Weil service centre may well do, but that doesn’t bear any relation to what the retailer may charge. Many years ago (15 years or so) many of the multiples realised they were making a loss on these repairs e.g. that £60 doesn’t take into account P&P fees and the cost of sending staff to the post office, admin etc. Signet opened their own workshop to enhance profitability whereas Beaverbrooks just stopped doing repairs completely. I sometimes still have to deal with manufacturers and their suggested retail genuinely does not adequately cover the cost to the business, especially when you consider return jobs and time spent diagnosing the problem at store level. It’s just not worth doing at their RRSP. I don’t know of a jeweller that uses the manufacturer RRSP, and if they do they are doing themselves a disservice.

I agree with you on the point of profits, when I was at Mappin & Webb any repairs sent to outside contractors or brands service centres we worked on a two and a half x plus VAT margin. Although this may not have been a fortune it helped to bring customers into the shop and the opportunity to possibly make a sale as well as make a small contribution towards the business overheads.

Everyone wants to make sales with a good margin of profit but don’t seem to want to offer service, I can only assume they don’t want to invest in training staff to a competent level and don’t feel that there is enough money to be made.

What they seem to forget is that once the customer has come through the door it then gives them the opportunity to make a sale on top of dealing with the repair inquiry, that’s why in my day the staff were sales assistants with good product knowledge not till jockeys.

Very true. Repairs aren’t their primary concern so training is extremely limited and generally poor. Identikit, expendable staff trained to sell and little else. Works out for the likes of you and I though so can’t complain too much 🙂

Just had a customer come in with his Skagen watch which had moisture inside the glass, apparently he had a new battery fitted at a well known key cutting heel bar and within a few hours it had misted up so he returned to the heel bar suggesting they may have damaged the case back seal and it may be a good idea to fit a new one. The assistant proceeded to tell the customer that they do not do seals so he decided to go to see the man on the market, so a few days later he went to the market guy and asked him to fit a new battery to be on the safe side as he did not have faith in what the heel bar had done.

So today it was my turn to sort out the problem, the glass was all misted up and on opening the watch all of the issues came to light. As the watch had been left so long the moisture inside it had etched a stain on the inside of the glass and the lacquer on the dial was starting to bubble and lift, the market trader had fitted the wrong size battery which was also a cheap Alkaline and still had not fitted the new seal, the original had been damaged by a case knife when previously opened.

I managed to remove some of the staining from the glass although it would have been better to replace it, I cleaned the case/bracelet in the ultrasonic cleaner fitted the correct battery and lubricated the crown/stem seal plus a new seal for the case back.

To supply and fit a new glass and dial would probably cost the customer £40 to £60 all because some idiot did not do the job properly in the first place.

Had a gentleman come in to see me at the weekend with his TAG Heuer quartz watch, apparently he had been to one of the local upmarket jewellers to have a new battery fitted. After several weeks they returned the watch to him not working and offered to have it repaired for £175 but it would not have any guarantee, he declined the offer to then be told there would be a £35 admin fee which he reluctantly paid with protest.

As he passed the watch to me I immediately noticed the minute hand was flopping around loose, as I removed the movement my fingers became covered in clear silicone grease whoever had previously opened up the watch had put grease were it shouldn’t be and also they fitted the wrong battery.

So I cleaned away the grease, refitted the hands, deep cleaned the case and bracelet to remove dirt and grease before refitting the movement plus correct battery and lubricating the seals before closing up the case.

All of this cost him £25.00 and the watch was back on his wrist half an hour after he brought it in.

It seems pretty prevalent for ”watch repair services” to charge ‘x’ amount for a battery replacement,depending on ”what make of watch” it is. If it’s a Timex for example,it could be as little as £10. If it’s say,a ‘Raymond Weil’ watch,one of which i own,bought back in 1992 i’ve been asked for £42, & the Raymond Weil service dept.will demand £70. That’s the equivalent of being charged extra for petrol because you drive a more expensive car – the actual work content in doing the battery change remains exactly the same !!. It’s a rip-off !!.
The majority of watches these days,are battery powered quartz designs & the repair services have decided to cash in on it.
In my opinion,it’s about time that the Trading Standards authority investigated this practice. How about £100 + to put a new battery in a Rolex ‘Oysterquartz’. That’s what a friend of mine had to pay for 20 minutes of work. Admitedly,the seal was replaced & the watch pressure tested,but the price was exorbitant.
He first of all took it back the the Jewellers from where he bought it. He was asked if it had been serviced,& he said that it hadn’t. He was then told that they wouldn’t fit a new battery without the watch being serviced first – at a cost of £250. That’s illegal !!. You cannot elicit work that a customer does NOT require. If you take your car to a garage for a new battery,they can NOT demand that you have 4 new tyres before they’ll fit the battery.

Fortunately,i’ve personally found a jewellers who will replace a battery in a watch for £10 & replace the seal & pressure test a watch for £20.

I sincerely wish that somebody with some authority would ask Trading Standards to become involved in this rip-off scenario.

If battery replacement in a cheap watch is inexpensive, but is expensive for a more expensive watch, I can see an easy way of keeping costs down.

I doubt that it’s illegal to require that a watch is serviced before fitting a battery, though any advertising that quotes prices should make this requirement clear. If you have a boiler the installer may insist on having the central system flushed to ensure that there is no sludge in the system, which might result in a claim in vent of a fault. The important point is that the customer is quoted a price before the work starts and that if additional work is deemed necessary, permission to do this is obtained from the customer.

If you go to a large high street chain you will generally find they will be more expensive due to the cost of postal/insurance/staff time in processing the job as they nearly always have to send the watch back to the brands service centre as well as having extremely high overheads to cover.

A small independent will be less expensive as they will usually do the job on the premises although some will use a local trade watch repairer so may take a couple of days.

Rolex no longer produce a quartz watch, the Oyster Quartz was produced in the 90’s and would certainly need a service after fifteen years although not compulsory, as regards charges the most common movements used in low to medium range watches the battery change is very simple and £5 to £10 depending on whether the seals are lubricated as part of the deal, as for some of the Omega Breitling Tissot Longines etc these quite often have small fiddly battery straps or covers which are easy to drop and lose plus expensive to replace and time consuming to fit correctly hence £10 to £20 is a reasonable cost.

To carry out a pressure test a charge of £25 to £45 including the battery is also a reasonable charge.

Fitting a battery in a Rolex Oysterquartz is nothing like as easy as fitting a battery in a Timex. Nor is fitting a battery in a Tissot Touch watch the same a popping one in a Sekonda. The Breitling case back tools cost hundreds of times the amount a case knife costs for a Rotary. Replacement back gaskets sometimes cost more. Watches with more entrance points sometimes need the gaskets replacing on the pushers. Do you reckon that is the same as a normal battery replacement? I’d like to see you fiddle with a tiny battery strap or remove one movement to access another. So far this week I’ve made approx. £130 in profit from two jobs where customers thought they could do the job themselves, wrecking their watches in the process. I also have a Rolex in that someone tried to adjust the bracelet on himself and ruined the clasp. All of them apparently had the same ill-informed opinion of watch repairs that you have.

“That’s the equivalent of being charged extra for petrol because you drive a more expensive car – the actual work content in doing the battery change remains exactly the same !!. It’s a rip-off !!.”

No it isn’t. On a car you open up the petrol cap and insert the nozzle and operate the pump in the same way for either car and the petrol is broadly the same. I suggest you take on a course with the BHI costing you thousands of pounds, gain a few decades experience and then come back here and tell people who actually have a clue that all watches are all the same and should cost the same to repair.

All of this doesn’t even take into account the cost of running a business and paying rent, rates, wages etc in a prime location where customers can conveniently find you. These jewellers aren’t running their businesses from a van.

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I took my Raymond Weil watch to a well know jewellery store. The manager replaced the battery in 7 minutes – i timed him. It cost me £9.99. The RW service dept. wanted £70 to do a battery change. ”In-Time” watch services wanted £45. It takes my wife longer to fill up her car than 7 minutes !.

I’ll have to confess to telling a lie in my last post – it’s me who owns the Rolex – i didn’t want to come over as boasting,it’s as simple as that. Everything else was perfectly true. It was ”Mappin & Webb” who refused to fit a new battery unless i had the watch serviced. It’s been serviced once in 30 years & it’s keeping perfect time. If it’s working fine,why mess with it ?.

I understand that watch repair services do on the whole give good service,but why should the cost of fitting a new battery in a watch be hiked up by £30 in the space of just over 12 months ?. With regard to my opinion of watch repair services – i didn’t express one !. What i did express, was my disgust at being told that the COST of fitting a battery had gone up from £12 to £42 with no explanation other than that they now used a ‘sliding scale’ for their pricing
ie. inexpensive watch = inexpensive battery replacement / expensive watch = expensive battery replacement with no explanation as to ‘why’ ,& it usually takes the same amount of time regardless of watch – of which i own several,collected over a 40 year period & all of which i used to take to ‘In-Time’ for battery replacements.
My opinion of the service guys themselves is that they do a great job – however,the company they work for is pricing people away from their service dept.

The last time that the ”In-Time” guys fitted a battery to my Rolex, i was charged £100 why, when the time prior to that,it was £69 ?.

With regard to the legality of quite literally trying to force an unwanted service on my Rolex – you simply can not do that. You can advise that it’s done,but if the customer doesn’t want it done – that’s it !.

The same jewellers that i took my Raymond Weil watch to,will remove the back from my Rolex / replace the seal & battery / re-fit the back & pressure test it for £20 – less than i expected them to charge,i must say.

As a retired Senior Principal Design & Manufacturing Engineer for what is now BEA Systems – please don’t talk down to me about overhead costs !.Try being resonsible for over £4 Billion of military aircraft on a production line with cost penalties if you don’t deliver.

The bottom line is – ‘some’ watch repairers are overcharging for what is a relatively simple operation on the vast majority of watches.

PS – My ‘user name’ has changed – it was saska.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

“I took my Raymond Weil watch to a well know jewellery store. The manager replaced the battery in 7 minutes – i timed him.” If he did it in 7 minutes, he didn’t do it properly. I know because I’ve done thousands. You assume he did it correctly because you don’t know how it should be done. You’re comparing apples and oranges.

“I’ll have to confess to telling a lie in my last post – it’s me who owns the Rolex – i didn’t want to come over as boasting,it’s as simple as that” Don’t worry about it, watchmakers tend to be more enthusiastic about high-end watches like a Patek or Audemars

Lets dissect ‘Raymond Weil’ charges. £70 – VAT – special delivery insured postage and packaging there and back (RW aren’t charging you £70 the jeweller is).

Filling up a car is not a skilled job and has little risk. Why you would compare the two things is beyond me.

“The last time that the ”In-Time” guys fitted a battery to my Rolex, i was charged £100 why, when the time prior to that,it was £69 ?”. I have no idea. Ask them, it seems like quite a jump

“I understand that watch repair services do on the whole give good service,but why should the cost of fitting a new battery in a watch be hiked up by £30 in the space of just over 12 months ?” It hasn’t across the industry in my experience, it’s stayed broadly the same with independent watchmakers for about the last 15 years. Jewellers hiked their prices because they weren’t making any profit. One multiple retailer even stopped taking in repairs about 20 years ago for this reason but I assume faced a backlash which is why they started again.

“Inexpensive watch = inexpensive battery replacement / expensive watch = expensive battery replacement with no explanation as to ‘why’ ,& it usually takes the same amount of time regardless of watch” It’s ‘generally’ harder to fit a battery into a better watch. Again you assert that they take the same amount of time. How many watches have you repaired? What brands were they? What methods did you use to remove each back?

“If it’s working fine,why mess with it ?.” Do you use that logic with your car? I must say that for someone with such engineering pedigree I can’t understand for the life of me why you can’t work that out yourself. Genuinely, if you want to know I’ll tell you.

“With regard to the legality of quite literally trying to force an unwanted service on my Rolex – you simply can not do that. You can advise that it’s done,but if the customer doesn’t want it done – that’s it !.” Try telling that to the majority of the prestige watchmakers. I agree with you on this one.

“As a retired Senior Principal Design & Manufacturing Engineer for what is now BEA Systems – please don’t talk down to me about overhead costs !.Try being resonsible for over £4 Billion of military aircraft on a production line with cost penalties if you don’t deliver.” How is this relevant? Unless you’ve been a watchmaker, run a watchmakers or know what they cost to run then I can’t see why you think this comment adds to the conversation

The bottom line is that I’ve been told by more engineers how to repair watches than any other occupation.

As Watcher mentioned case opening tools are not cheap, a couple of weeks ago I had a ladies Breitling come in for a new battery and the case back was a size that I hadn’t had before so I ordered in a new case die to fit so that I could open the watch without any damage. The case die cost me a fortune so now I hope to receive a few more with the same size as I only charged the client £10.00 for doing the job.

My wife took her Longines watch into Timpson’s yesterday for a replacement battery and was charged £65 – although that included a lifetime guarantee. She knew the previous one had a guarantee as well but had no idea where to find it.

Fortunately, when she got home she found the old guarantee. To be fair to Timpson’s, they refunded the money but £65 was still an awful lot just for a new battery. (And that’s all they did.)

I must admit on past experience of work I’ve seen done by Timpsons and the lack of care and professionalism it is nice to hear they refunded the money on your return with the previous card for the lifetime battery, they rely on customers losing the receipt for the lifetime deal which gives them the opportunity to sell you another.
You obviously have a branch with people who are decent and reasonable.

I’m glad to hear that this was sorted out for you. Timpsons are actually a decent company but Robert is quite right about the quality of the watch repairs from my experience. They’re a bit of a Jack-of-all-trades. You’re always going to be better off with a specialist. If the battery isn’t fitted with care and professionalism then this can cause further problems down the line that they won’t cover under their lifetime battery guarantee. I feel it’s a bit of a gimmick and no other popular watch repairer offers the same service. I’ve replaced plenty of batteries in watches that my local Timpsons has done where the customer has lost their receipt so again, as Robert says, a lifetime guarantee won’t help much in that instance. As a guide, we charge £25-40 for a battery and a seal test on Longines watches, depending on the model. I feel this is more than reasonable for work carried out by a specialist.

Buy expensive ! then be prepared to pay expensive for repairs and parts ! Cheap can be thrown away without must loss

I agree. The same applies to most purchases in my experience whether it be a watch or a car. Mass produced cheap watches have mass produced cheap parts and aren’t as well constructed making them easier and cheaper to repair, ordinarily. Watch repairers can hardly be blamed for the price of parts from the manufacturers. I’m sure you can imagine that a part from Omega costs significantly more than a part from Citizen.

Let me take you through my procedure when changing a battery,

1) Open/remove one end of bracelet to allow clear access to the case back
2) Wipe away any loose dirt from the case back
3) Open case and give the movement a quick visual inspection for any obvious problems
4) Remove the crown/stem and remove movement
5) Clean case/bracelet in the ultrasonic then thoroughly dry
6) Lubricate any pushers if fitted then refit the movement plus new swiss battery
7) Lubricate the crown/stem seal and refit
8) Check and replace case back seal with new if necessary
9) Lubricate case back seal and refit case back
10) Check all the functions are working correctly and set to correct date/time

This all takes approximately fifteen minutes to half an hour depending on Brand/model and all for £5.00 for the simple movements £10.00 for the more difficult movements.

If you have a battery change and it only takes five to ten minutes before its back on your wrist it hasn’t been done and checked properly, simply back off pop new battery in and refit case back and any water resistance probably lost.

Well said, Robert.

You just can’t get that kind of service in a cobbling and key-cutting kiosk.

Charging the equivalent of £20 per hour does not seem enough to cover wages and overheads.

There could be some profit in the battery, Wavechange.

I’d also like to add that Robert, through necessity, has had to omit certain stages that may be different on specific movement/watch types. There are frankly too many types to list everything about every movement. Imagine everything that he has listed plus a myriad of other issues specific to different watch types. That’s the difference between someone who takes a pride in his/her craft and those that don’t. The difference between having experience and having none. It always makes me laugh when a customer decides to save a tenner by using a repairer that doesn’t have a clue. That tenner is the difference between your watch either serving you faithfully for 20 years or potentially needing a service within 6 months.

I would charge more but unfortunately there are too many people out there who don’t really appreciate what is involved and only want to pay the cost of a battery not the true cost of time and overheads of a business. Fortunately I do not rely on just fitting batteries to make a living.

Its good, Robert, to have someone like yourself with specialist knowledge continually contributing to Convos. I wish we could find more to guide Convos along sensible lines.

I understand your comment on the low charge. I suppose if you have some free time in a shop you might as well use it to earn a little extra money. Many companies do this, in a sense; when their main business plan delivers the recovery of all their fixed overheads they can then afford to take on some other business at a reduced price. It all adds to their profits.

Robert – Thanks. I suppose that if you do fit batteries then customers might come back for servicing and repairs.

As I’ve had so many watches brought into me to sort out after being messed up by idiots who don’t really know what they are doing but keep getting the business because they are cheap, I would rather keep my price down.
People may say well I will make good money on repairing these unfortunate watches, this is true up to a point but the majority will cost more than the value of the timepiece to repair, so providing I’m making a small profit changing the batteries hopefully I will save customers suffering from the folly of going for the cheap and cheerful.

I find it infuriating when I regularly see the mess some of these ‘repairers’ make of it to hear people suggesting that all watches are basically the same and as easy to work on as every other. If it was that easy to do then we wouldn’t see a plethora of ruined watches day in, day out.

Had a call from one of my trade clients a couple of days ago asking for the cost of a new crown and stem plus battery for a Fossil watch, today the watch arrived their customer had accepted the quoted price.

Well when I removed the case back what a mess confronted me, someone had obviously tried to do a DIY job and failed. The strap which holds the battery in place was not correctly fitted and as they had been fighting with the plastic case ring trying to refit it the hooligan had managed to misalign the chrono start/stop & reset contacts as well as snap the stem for setting the time and lost the crown.

So it was movement out and a thorough cleaning of the case/bracelet, adjust the chrono contacts to the correct position and refit the movement plus new battery plus the case spacer ring. Fitted a new crown and stem checked everything worked correctly then refitted the back.

Michael G says:
5 April 2018

Hi I took my Casio Edifice Ocean Chronograph to F Hiinds at Intu Merry Hill last year. I purchased the watch in early 2014 it’s obsolete now, the lcd dials had blanked out.
Good news was 3 new batteries serviced and revealed and tested by Casio a 2 week wait with a lifetime battery guarantee all for £39.

Had someone come in today who decided to do a DIY battery change on his watch which fortunately wasn’t an expensive model, he asked if I could help because the front bezel ring which holds the glass had popped off and he wasn’t able to refit it.

I opened the case back which was a push on type and immediately the problem became obvious, he had fitted a LR41 micro Alkaline battery which was the correct diameter but the wrong height, as it was too tall on refitting the case back there wasn’t enough clearance inside the watch case so the battery pushed against the back and the movement and fortunately the bezel popped off otherwise the movement would have been damaged beyond repair.

So I removed the movement refitted the bezel, checked the movement was ok and refitted with the correct silver oxide battery (Alkaline will not last very long and will leak) and refitted the case back.

The gentleman then asked if I would be able to fit a magnifier to the glass over the date as he was struggling to see it, as I had one in stock the correct size I was able to bond one on and so he was very happy.

Unless the watch is repaired by the maker you have to accept that it will no longer be water resitant. To ensure this the watch when sent to the manufacturer it is pressure tested and guaranteed and will likely come back in good order without corrosive finger prints on the movement which will drastically reduce the life of your time piece! If you are happy with a fake watch buy one. If you have spent the money on a real one treat it well and get the pro’s to do it rather than even just allowing a competent jeweler to do it! You will pay more but it is worth it…

This just isn’t true. There are plenty of competent watch repairers about, most of which don’t work for a manufacturer. And I can assure you that the majority of watch manufacturers are just ‘part replacers’, and don’t really repair much. You’re also going to pay over the odds, pay for more than you need and wait an awfully long time with most of them. Granted, you’re lowering your chances of it being done badly, but to state it’s the only way for it to be done correctly is incorrect.

Well said.