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How do I open the back of the Acqua Indiglo watch so I can change the CR2016 battery?

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Your watch has a snap-fit case; the back is simply pressed back into position with firm pressure. The problem is that modern snap-fit case backs are often very tightly fitted to increase their water-resistance--they're tough to get off, and even tougher to push back into position. I would not be surprised if you will ultimately need a jeweler's case press to get the back of this watch back into place (more on this later).

A snap-fit case back often has a small (very small) raised section at one spot of the rim; this is so you can insert a tool called a case knife and pop the back off. Many Timex watches have a small triangle / pointer etched into the case back to suggest where you should fit a case knife to pop off the watch. If you don't see that small raised section or a marker (Aqua is a discount brand of Timex), you'll need to choose a location to wiggle the blade of your case knife under the edge and gently apply leverage from there--it's usually easiest by one of the watch lugs, as opposed to near the watch crown. If you don't have a case knife, you can often use a thin (but tough!) knife blade to do the same thing. Remember, though, that applying this much force through a knife blade can distort or take a chunk out of your edge, so be prepared to sacrifice a knife or be prepared to re-sharpen it after this exercise. A screwdriver does not work very well; the blades are typically too narrow to provide good leverage without distorting the case back, and they may even cutt a gouge into the watch body. Avoid using them for this purpose.

If you can't press the back on securely after replacing the battery, you will need to use a case press to complete the job. A case press is just what it sounds like: a device for clamping watch cases back together. It's designed to provide an equal amount of force around the edges of the watch back without putting that same pressure on the watch crystal (which could cause it to crack or break). I'm aware of two basic styles. One style looks vaguely like a big pair of pliers, but with two swiveling plates instead plier jaws. The other style, which I prefer, sits on a table or workbench and uses a lever to push down the top plate. In both cases, nylon jigs are inserted to match the size of your watch.

You can find case knives, case presses, and other watch repair tools at many jewelry supply stores, mail order supply houses like Otto Frei (http://www.ottofrei.com/store/home.php?cat=296 will take you right to the watch repair tools), and on eBay. However, if you're near a Harbor Freight store, they sell a "watch battery changing kit" and jeweler's press for an extremely reasonable price. These aren't the ultra-high quality tools that a professional jeweler would use, but they'll be perfectly fine for changing the occasional battery for many years. I've probably closed 100+ watches using the inexpensive press I got from there.

If you can't close the watch case with your bare hands and don't have access to a case press, your safest bet may be to go to a jewelry store or jewelry counter in a department store and ask if they could close the back for you with the proper tool. You may have to tip them a few dollars, but that is still far cheaper than the cost of replacing a broken watch crystal.

Posted on May 30, 2011

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