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Wristwatch Screw Case Remover - Any Suggestions?


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I'm always reluctant to snap off the back off a wristwatch because I don't have a press for closing up - and Im' afraid I might crack the crystal. However, one or two of my watches have screw cases so I'm tempted to buy a reasonably priced case remover. Any suggestions on what to buy?

 

(I don't have that problem with pocket watches, by the way, because all mine can be unscrewed by hand or just have dust covers that hinge and snap open).

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Will,

 

I would be very careful when it comes to the really cheap Jaxa style case openers, the cheap ones are cheap for a reason.

I had a couple in the past and found that the pins tend not to be really rigidly mounted in the frame. They seem ok to start with but when you start to apply a reasonably amount of torque they flex just enough to allow the pins to slip out. The pins will then skate across the case back leaving a trail of scratches as witness. You may be lucky and get one that doesn't do this, but it will be just luck.

 

At the silly end of the scale Bergeon do a Jaxa style wrench for about £200, but a much more sensible option is the LG Master wrench for about £70. To me the extra £65 or so pays for keeping a pristine case pristine. Try costing up the repair of a deep score in the gold medallion on the back of a vintage Omega Constellation for instance.

 

Alternatively (and my "go to" option), is the rubber ball case back opener, have a look at this;

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Watch-Opener-Screw-Remover-Opening/dp/B00CFG0P3Y/ref=sr_1_26?ie=UTF8&qid=1391613576&sr=8-26&keywords=watch+back+case+opener

There are many variation on the same theme, surprisingly effective for all but the most stubborn case backs, dirt cheap, and no damage to the watch.

When this fails though I do reach for the LG Master.

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I appreciate your advice, Marc. I have to say that I really only need this to look at the movements mainly in pretty old, medium-range wristwatches - and only then occasionally, because the basic purpose is to photograph them. If I was a serious tinkerer - and you sound far more sophisticated than a serious tinkerer - then I'd probably go upmarket! As it is, I'll probably make do and mend. My really seriously expensive watches are mainly all screw-back pocket watches - no problems there!

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On the subject of tools, it's always worth keeping a look out for decent stuff second hand.

 

Having made do with cheap screwdrivers and tweezers for far too long I eventually managed to pull together a useful set of Bergeon screwdrivers and Dumont tweezers for a fraction of the new cost. I had to do a little fettling to bring them back to top notch condition but then I like that, it helps me to get to know the tools properly.

 

My bestest ever score though is my Wild Heergrugg M5 stereo binocular microscope. Proper stereo magnification from 6X to 62.5X in 8 steps, with 9.5cm working distance between the object lens and subject. All for just £20 at a car boot sale. Luvley Jubley ;-)

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We had some of those cheaper case balls in (with strange pictures of sheep on?). They were rubbish compared to the blue ones so we ended up giving them away. The blue ones are still under a fiver so quite cheap. I agree with the jaxa tool comments. The Indian and Chinese cheaper ones are not comparable to the Bergeon one but if you are opening less than 10 watches a year and they are not high value then they are good enough. Screw backs are relatively easy with the right tool. The worst are clip on backs of cheap fashion watches with thin domed or shaped glasses. The cheaper the watch the worse the case seems to be and getting the back on can be tricky. Personally I hate the modaine quartz watches. Cheapest eta quartz movement available inside and a badly made case. They have a very thin rim to push against (glass side) when pressing the back on, and a thin domed glass. I haven't cracked one yet but it still worries me every time.

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post-31-0-43550900-1391703155_thumb.jpg

I appreciate your advice, Marc. I have to say that I really only need this to look at the movements mainly in pretty old, medium-range wristwatches - and only then occasionally, because the basic purpose is to photograph them. If I was a serious tinkerer - and you sound far more sophisticated than a serious tinkerer - then I'd probably go upmarket! As it is, I'll probably make do and mend. My really seriously expensive watches are mainly all screw-back pocket watches - no problems there!

Hi Will,

 

I bought this kit of tools some time ago when I started opening up watches, it cost around £25 - £30 on ebay, it's obvously made in China or India as the quality on some of the jaxa bits is a bit doubtful and I wouldn't use it on a very tight back or on an expensive watch but I've found it to be a good starter kit that you can add to with more expensive tools as you go along and if watch repairing is not your thing then you haven't wasted a lot of money.

 

Phil. 

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Have used the budget Jaxa for sometime now, OK so far and has opened some mig welded case backs without incident. Have a similar press to Craig's but the dies don't have the brass insert and have begun to strip the threads, also the threaded shaft on mine protruded from the die and cracked a crystal, have now resolved by spacing with a penny washer

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Well, the cheap Chinese case opener came today, so I got the back off the Caravelle to photograph the movement. Worked fine - luckily it wasn't locked tight on - and it worked fine with the tightening as well. One small step for mankind...

Edited by WillFly
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  • 11 months later...
Marc, on 06 Feb 2014 - 01:18 AM, said:

Will,

 

I would be very careful when it comes to the really cheap Jaxa style case openers, the cheap ones are cheap for a reason.

 

I totally agree Marc.

The case opener I use for screw casebacks is the "T" shaped one from Horotec. 

It adjusts quickly and is worth every penny.

Also as Mark suggested, a case vise is absolutely necessary not only to protect your hands; but to ensure the least possibility of slipping and damaging the caseback.

 

post-246-0-60738500-1422075709.jpg

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The case clamp has a stepped bottom which I use to clamp it into a small bench vice (fixed to workbench) for really stubborn backs. 

This gives you 2 free hands to work the Jaxa opener, and you can press down hard to avoid slipping out of caseback.

Fit the case and close the case vice first as it won't move once clamped in bench vice!

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  • 7 years later...

Hello @atimegoneby

Beware excessive twisting on those little tiny heads that are likely NOT that high-quality metal in those all-in-one kits. 

Using one of them (a long time ago, when I first started out) I had the pins shear off, which is a drag as the failure cause a MASSIVE SCRATCH in the case involved.

In the beginning, I was able to struggle along, but now I am actively replacing that kit with higher grade stuff where it matters most.

g.
----

Edited by Gramham
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