I am a watch person. I’ve consistently worn a watch on my left wrist since I was eight, 1 almost forty years ago. While in my early days I was enthralled by digital (especially things like calculator watches or ones that played video games), since my late teens I’ve used analog face watches. And while I can easily get a “smart” watch, I still stick to dumb old watches with moving hands.
But I am no means a “fancy watch” user. The conspicuous consumption of something like a Rolex does not appeal, and I’d also be too worried about damaging it. I’ve mostly stuck to Timex: affordable, usually nice looking, and originally made near where I grew up in Connecticut. I’d spend maybe thirty bucks on a new watch, get three or four years of life out of it until it broke, then get a new watch.
But sometimes the battery dies before the watch goes kaput, which is the case with my current watch, a simple “scout” or field watch. Timex doesn’t design these watches to be user-serviceable, so to replace the battery they recommend bringing it to a jeweler or watch repair. That of course costs money. A watch battery is pretty cheap. Can I DIY it? According to YouTube, “yes”.
Last week I decided to give it a go. I bought a new battery and followed the YouTube instructions. I managed to pop the back off and replace the battery. But the back is “press-on”, so getting it back on is the difficult part. YouTube told me to use a soft surface (like a towel) against the face (crystal) of the watch, a pill bottle or the like (I used a small Nalgene bottle cap) and your foot. Press down until you hear a click, so I did. And the back was on.
But that click wasn’t just setting the back, it was cracking the front. Oops.
The watch is still functional, which after all the trouble I went through is greatly appreciated. What it isn’t anymore is “pretty”, despite the new watch band I also installed. (The old one was long in the tooth.) Someone on the internet suggested replacing the crystal, but they’re more than the watch is worth. I’ll keep on using this watch for now. Perhaps it will remind me that “DIY” isn’t always the way to go. Sure, you can learn from failure. But sometimes failure is just failure.
I have another old Timex watch, and I managed to replace the battery (and strap!) with little issue, since its back was screw-on. 2 These two should get me by for a bit until I consider my next move. I could get another Timex, but I’m thinking I might go a bit nicer, a bit more deluxe. 3 It would also be nice to not have to worry about replacing batteries, so I’m looking into solar-powered watches, or mechanical watches with automatic movements. I realize that mechanical watches are not as accurate as quartz watches, so that’s a consideration. But I do like the idea of something that could last decades vs. a few years.
1 Save for a hot minute in 2005 or so when I used a carabiner watch
2 “Little” issue, mind you. Of course one of the teeny screws went MIA. I managed to replace it with a eyeglass screw that worked OK. It’s now probably not as water-resistant as it used to be.
3 I have to admit that I’m a sucker for Timex’s “Indiglo” backlight, which has kept me with the brand for a long time. If I went for a different watch, it would need to have good luminance.