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[Article]10 Essential Tools Every Watch Repairer Needs

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Wether watch repair is your hobby, or you wish to train as a watch repairer, you will need to buy some tools at some stage. These are the 10 most useful tools you will need in your kit.There is the right tool for every job in all trades and this is especially true for watch repairing. No matter how many tools you have, there always seems to be something needed. I know many watch repairers, some with many, many years behind their belts, who truly enjoy sifting through a catalog of tools in order to see what would make their lives easier.

Indeed, I have almost 25 years in the trade, and I have so many tools. But occasionally I enjoy the purchase of that new tool which will make my life easier. And there is no better feeling than buying the best quality and knowing that you are using the best.

That being said, there are several tools which are very important to have on day one of your watch repairing career. And even if you are an enthusiast and watch repairing is your hobby, you should consider these 10 tools at a minimum to be in your tool box.


OK, so tweezers are of paramount importance. A good, well maintained pair of tweezers are needed. But you really should consider having several sizes for different jobs.


· Size 2
This will be for picking up heavier pieces. These are useful for handling train bridges and base plates. And as general use when working on pocket watches.

· Size 3
These are finer than size two and are useful for general purpose when working on wrist watches.

· Size 5
This size will have extremely fine tips and are most useful when working on watch escapements and manipulating hairsprings.

· Size AM.BR
These are quite heavy tweezers made of brass. These are useful when working on high grade watches where you do not wish to risk scratching any of the watch plate surfaces.

Other sizes are available but you really should consider the above at a minimum.

There are many choices even after you have chosen which sizes to purchase. You can get carbon steel, stainless steel and anti-magnetic. There are also brands such as Bergeon, Horotec and Dumont.

Many professional watch repairers tend to use Dumont as they have a fantastic range to choose from. In particular I can recommend the Dumostar range. These are anti-magnetic but also quite hard wearing.

If you bend or damage the tips on your screwdrivers then you can re-shape them using a sharpening stone. If they get too worn then they are still useful for rough work like lifting spring bars when fitting straps etc.


A decent set of screwdrivers is, naturally, a must. There are many manufacturers and qualities to choose from, but it is not recommended to use the cheap variety sold on eBay or at your local market as these will usually have very soft tips and could likely slip and cause damage to the watch you are working on.


Popular brands include A&F, Bergeon and Horotec.

A&F manufacture a great set of screwdrivers for a reasonable price, and these are an excellent choice for getting started.

Many watch repairers may debate over which is best between Bergeon and Horotec. I prefer Bergeon with the ergonomic heads. Other watch repairers I know swear by the Horotec's. Everybody I know seem to agree that the Bergeon fully ergonomic screwdrivers are terrible (the ones with the rubber shaft).


Essential for removing the hands from a watch.


There are two kinds

· Standard hand lifters
These come in pairs and are metal rods with a tapered flat edge at the tips which is curved into a blade and will have a 'v' cut in the blade centre. These come in several sizes which would be useful for small watches up to small clocks.

· Presto hand lifters
This is a single tool which has a spring loaded lifting mechanism.

It is useful to have both kinds. My preference is the standard hand lifters.



A case knife is essential for opening a watch case with a snap-on back. It is advisable to keep the blade both sharp and well maintained to reduce the risk of damage to yourself or the watch case.


A Jaxa tool is used for opening a watch case with a screw on back. It will come with several tips for different types of watch back.

There are a couple of sizes, a standard size and a large size. You can buy the original Jaxa or a cheaper replica.

You should use the opener with the watch case mounted in a case vice (preferably further secured in a bench vice).


When opening a screw-down watch back, you should consider using a case vice which will help to minimise damage to the case and potential injury to your hand. It is even better to secure the case vice in a bench vice.



When working on your watch, you should NEVER blow on the movement or any parts with your mouth. This will likely cause corrosion. You should use an air blower instead.

There are a couple of types - a bellows style and a pump style. The bellows style is a bit more aggressive and the pump style is more gentle.


When the watch is out of the case, you will want to minimise touching the watch with your fingers. You will also not want to put pressure on the watch when undoing screws and you could break parts. So using movement holders is very advisable.


There are regular universal movement holders in various sizes and shapes. and you will find movement holders for specific movement calibres like the Valjoux 7750 or ETA 2892-A2 for example.


You should invest in eye glasses with quality optics. An eye glass is usually worn in your eye like a monocle. You will find these manufactured by A&F, Bergeon and Horotec. At a minimum you should have a low magnification (x4) and a high magnification (x10) for close inspection work. This is very important when fault finding.


You can get a clip for your spectacles and there is also a head band available for people who cannot get used to wearing an eye glass which can be quite tricky at first.



Oil pots are inexpensive and a must in order to aid you in getting the correct amount of oil on your oilers. There are cheap and very expensive oil pots and to be fair it does not really matter which ones you opt for as long as they serve the purpose of keeping dust off your precious oil.



These are fine, specially shaped needles with handles. They are used for transferring small amounts of lubricant from your oil pot to the desired location.

​And so this, by no means, is an exhaustive list of all the tools you need to repair watches. In fact, these are the most basic of requirements. I have not mentioned pliers, pin vices, broaches, reamers, files, cutters and measuring equipment. But I will follow up this article with a further list of tools you will need as you expand your tool kit.

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  • 3 months later...

Thanks Mark,

                       Your list is all that is required tool wise to get stated,  some of the other things required cannot be bought,  such as patience, a steady hand and good eyesight.  To anyone wishing to learn I would recommend "Practical watch repairing" by Donald De Carle,  this is available from Amazon.  Anyone who thinks they can just sit down and start repairing watches has got another think coming.


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Indeed - and buy a bunch of scrapper watch movements off eBay - not for repairing them but simply to practice dismantling and re-assembly, this will help to develop confidence in your tools.

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Hi Mark

Did you deliberately leave out those plastic blocks that seem to be used when working on bracelets etc or can this be achieved using the tools mentioned?

For me at the moment I think I will start with case opening, for looking inside and battery changes.  And some way to hold things while adjusting  or opening bracelets.  Will the smallest of a screwdriver set manage pushing down on the spring loaded bracelet pins or is there some other tool.  In my trade it would be called a very small pin punch!




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  • 8 months later...

Welcome to the forum jabba,


I prefer to use those "daylight" GE bulbs and I got 2 of them over my work bench. I believe that it doesn't matter what lighting you use as long as you are comfortable with it and your eyes are not strained. Maybe another more experience member have a better suggestion.

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Years ago I purchased some old tools and holders. I think a good set of screwdrivers need to be added to my bench.

I also am curious as to all the bracelet holders and tools to remove pins, I scan old posts to find the information.


Al Takatsch 

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So where to get the best VFM?, I do hate wasting good money on cack tools, also I am aware that good suppliers need to make some profit at the end of the day otherwise we will only be left with army surplus stores...



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