How to Remove The Back of a Watch

One of the basic skills of watch modification is removing the back of the watch. This part is also known as the case back. While it could be simple for the savvy watch modders, it could be quite overwhelming for newbies. After all, a Seiko diver watch like the SKX007 does not come cheap especially if it is a limited edition.

So if you don’t know it yet, there are different types of case backs. Thus, there are different ways to open them up. You need to know this so you won’t damage your precious watch.

Tips When RemovingThe Case Back

Clean Place

Always find a clean working area free from dust and moisture. Steer away from woodshops or near the bathroom. Be aware of the things around you to make sure that your environment will not damage your bare watch.

Remove the Bracelet/Strap

To get easy access to your watch, you need to remove the straps. If your watch has a stainless bracelet, just push the pin in to open up and separate them in 2 pieces. Make sure to keep these in a safe place to easily locate them after.

Know Your Case Back

There are three common types of case backs: individual screws, solid screw-down, and the snap or pop back.

Individual screws have lots of noticeable screws around the outside. The solid screw-down is the most popular in dive watches. You screw in the entire case back to close it. The snap-back has no screws. You have to push them in to put it back.

For solid screw-down, it is best to use a spanner wrench. You will easily see that there are six notches on the case back. This is where the spanner wrench will grip the case back.

On the other hand, you can also use a rubber ball that you can buy in a Seiko mod parts store online. The rubber ball is the most recommended since it minimizes any risks of you scratching your watch.

Simply push the rubble ball against the case back, then turn counterclockwise. There will be enough friction between the case and the ball to open the watch.

The third tool you can use for the solid screw-down case back is the spanner wrench. Adjust the gap to fit on the two opposite notches of the case back. Lock it down then turn it to loosen the case back.

To get it back on, you simply need to twist it the other way. But before you close it, you have to check if the gasket is intact. This will make sure that your watch will stay water resistant and free from moisture. You don’t have to close it too tight. A nice gentle nudge would be enough.

Please note that this is when you might want to clean around where the case back meets the watch case. You can use a toothbrush with just a little water. If you clean the watch right before opening, it might introduce some grain or gunk inside the watch once you open it.

Make sure the case back is sealed before cleaning it up so it won’t damage the gasket and you will maintain its water resistance.

With individual screws, you will need a small screwdriver. Loosen the screws. Before you open the case back, use a pencil to make a small mark to indicate how you will put it back on. Because if you put it back on backward, it will crush the step of the crown and will ruin your watch.

Once you open it, do not forget to check the gasket or the rubber ring. Replace it if you think that it is no longer intact.

For a snap back, you can use a clam knife sharp enough to fit between the case back and the watch case. It has to be thick enough that when you pop out the case back, the knife will not be broken. Again, you need to check your gasket if it is still intact. If you really don’t want to scratch the watch, you can put tape around your watch to protect it. To put the case back on, you might need a watch press to securely seal it tight.