How to Open Pocket Watches: An Easy Guide

Long before wristwatches started to dominate and revolutionize the whole horological industry, pocket watches were the main timekeeping tool used, especially by men. Today, although these pocket watches are no longer as popular as they were before, they are still well-loved by vintage watch enthusiasts and many watch collectors. 

Since pocket watches actually possess a very similar build as wristwatches, you will find that the two have their similarities. One example is their solid casebacks. In this article, we will guide you on how to open pocket watches. It is a very easy process, which you can do with just one tool that you can easily find within your home. 

How to Open Pocket Watches

How to Open Pocket Watches: Front View of Tissot T-Pocket Ref. T861.405.99.033.00

As an example, we are going to use the Tissot T-Pocket Ref. T861.405.99.033.00 as a reference. Hailing from the Swiss watch brand Tissot, this piece is actually still available in the market today. It is equipped with a solid snap-on caseback. This T-Pocket model is elegantly crafted from brass, with a palladium plating. 

Unlike other pocket watches, the caseback of this piece does not have a raised hinge which you can easily lift open with just your fingers. As such, here is a thorough guide on how to open pocket watches like this:

1. Prepare a sturdy metal tool 

Even if you do not have the appropriate watch tools, do not worry. You can opt to use either a case knife or a flat screwdriver with a thin tip. Bear in mind that you should be cautious when handling any of these tools to avoid any accidents.

2. Flip the pocket watch over to find the snap-on caseback

Flip the pocket watch over so that the caseback is facing upwards. Remember to place the watch on a flat and clean surface, such as a sturdy table. This prevents it from accidentally slipping and falling onto the floor, which might cause more damage.

3. Insert the tool into any of the small openings of the caseback

Carefully insert the tip of your tool into any of the narrow openings of the pocket watch’s caseback. Make sure not to come in contact with the surface of the caseback so as to avoid any unwanted scratches. 

4. Lift the lid of the caseback and pop it open

Once you have inserted the tool into a small opening, delicately lift the lid of the caseback open. And there you have it, your pocket watch is open. 

However, in some cases, once you have finally opened the caseback, there is another layer of solid steel cover under it. If you encounter a secondary cover, all you have to do is repeat steps 1 to 3 to be able to lift it open.

Reasons for Opening a Pocket Watch

Full View of Tissot T-Pocket Ref. T861.405.99.033.00

1. Replacing the battery

There are some pocket watches that are driven by battery-operated quartz movements. When the battery of these movements run out of power, they have to be replaced in order for the pocket watch to start working again. The average lifespan of a watch battery lasts for about one year, so make sure to pick a reliable brand for one. 

2. Admiring the mechanical movement

Like wristwatches that have see-through casebacks, you can view the mechanical movement of a pocket watch when you open its caseback. This allows you to admire all the parts of the amazing movement that operates your pocket watch, such as its wheels, jewels, and finish. Sometimes, you can also see a few printed details about the movement on it too. These include its brand name, country of manufacture, and how many jewels it has. 

Final Thoughts

Learning how to open pocket watches, whether to change its battery or just to take a look at its mechanical movement, is extremely easy and can be done smoothly with just one handy tool. Just remember to be cautious when handling the tools so as to avoid accidentally hurting yourself or scraping your pocket watch. 

All images courtesy of WatchShopping website, unless otherwise stated. 

Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.

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