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A Frugal Watch Tale

My watch battery suddenly went out on the weekend, so I looked for cheap watches and they were almost $10 and hideous. So I went to the 99 Cent Store and got myself a Betty Boop watch (They had Lucy ones, too, really cute.) Unfortunately the buckle was flimsy and flew off in the car, I taped it temporarily. Once home, I applied 2 of my 99 Cent Store velcro squares for a closing and now it looks great and fits, too. It will get me through until I can get to the jeweler to change the battery. (We did try to do it ourselves, but there's a trick to it...) Frugality wins again!


By pamphyila from Los Angeles

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May 30, 20070 found this helpful

Actually replacing watch batteries isn't that difficult. I replace all of my own watch batteries and it is amazingly inexpensive to do. I check the back of the watch to determine what size battery is required. This is usually stamped on the back plate of the watch. I buy my batteries from ebay because you can get several of them for less than the cost of ONE jewelry store battery replacement. Get a magnifying glass and look at the back plate of the watch. There is usually a VERY tiny slot between the back plate of the watch and the watch case. Use a small slot headed screwdriver (the kind that you get in eyeglasses repair kits) to slide into this slot and GENTLY pry the plate away from the watch casing. Change the battery and press the back plate onto the casing again. You can feel a slight pop when the plate snaps into place.

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May 30, 20070 found this helpful

Be careful about changing your own watch batteries if you are worried about voiding the warranty. For example, Fossil watches require you to mail them back to them to have the battery changed. The more expensive watches are more picky about this.

Also, if you take your watch AND battery to a department store watch counter, they will often put it in at no charge. I've done this at Nordstrom (who are renowned for their service) I've also had them adjust bands and take out links on a watch that wasn't purchased there, for free.

I wonder if you could get batteries out of the dollar store watches and put them in your nicer watch? I don't know how many types of watch batteries there are.


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May 30, 20070 found this helpful

Lucky you to find a BETTY BOOP watch for 99 cents. I live in Massachusetts & am jealous that I don't have access to such a store as I love BETTY BOOP.


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May 31, 20070 found this helpful

I observed the jeweler replacing my watch battery very closely. At first, he tried to pry the case open, and then put it down in search of something "special". He came back with a tool that looked like an upside down capital U. The open end of the u's legs had little horizontal grippers. He seemed to insert the little grippers into the watch, then a little tugging and twisting, and the back of the watch case opened up.

So, to summarize, not all watch cases are easily opened. Darn. This is a Speidel watch.

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May 31, 20070 found this helpful

Oh boy. I used to work in the jewelry dept. of a large retail store and we changed lots of watch batteries. There were also some watches we would not touch. The warranty can be voided on some, as noted on an earlier post.

Read and keep your instructions. Keep the old battery, at least until you can match it.

The watches we stayed away from were: 1) digital - they don't always re-start after you put the new battery in; they may have to be re-set, and that can be a little tricky, 2) anything expensive, 3) anything monogrammed or inscribed or otherwise irreplaceable, 4) anything with more than one battery, like a musical watch, 5) anything notoriously difficult to get closed again, like the large Timex mens watches. You need a press to get the back back on those.

There are websites that explain how to change watch batteries. You'll need a very thin blade knife to pop it open. Or, if it's a screw-on back, you're probably out of luck. That requires a special tool. If it's a small watch with a back that pops off, you'll probably be able to close it by hand.

I think you can also find on the web a conversion chart that shows which battery numbers are essentially the same and can be used interchangeably. I've bought dollar watches too, and the battery numbers turned out to be something no longer on the market. Usually, if the battery is the same height and diameter, you can use it. Most dime-sized batteries are 1.5 volt.

Please also check to see if your watch battery can be simply thrown in the trash. Many cannot - they contain a harmful metal.

Incidentally, if your watch second hand is going forward and backward between the second notches on your watch face instead of just forward, it needs to be de-magnetized. Just have a cashier run it over the de-magnetizer at their register.

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By guest (Guest Post)
May 31, 20070 found this helpful

My dear American friends,

Here in Belgium (Europe) we always go to the jewelery to replace the battery. But I was kind of shocked about buying another watch, just for temporary use. 'Frugality wins' but what about the environment?

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