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I'm not big on quartz watches, so I've never felt the need to have a caseback tool. But a few months ago I bought an older Heuer diver and wanted to put a fresh battery in it. To my surprise, when I popped the back from the watch, I discovered there was no caseback gasket. Nothing. Not even a remnant of an old one. So immediately I set out to pull the rest of the casebacks on the half dozen or so watches I have that I don't know for sure that are good to go. Found two more. One in a dive watch that I would not have thought twice about getting dunked.

In the last three weeks I have received four watches. A couple year old Glycine, a 60's Bulova dive watch, an Elgin dive watch and a fairly new Omega Seamaster. Of the four, only the Glycine had a gasket on the caseback. One was bought from a "professional" who I know did some work on it.

I have been fortunate that I have never had a watch take on moisture. But now I'm guessing that was just dumb luck. I have a couple of go-to watches for the boat or beach and I know they're well-sealed. I wonder how many watches I passed along to unsuspecting buyers who assumed, like I always did, that there was proper protection present.

From here on out, everything gets opened.
 

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Sorry to hear this. I had a gut feeling that I should never buy a used watch. May be I am mistaken but IMHO to save couple of hundred bucks (by the way I am not a rich guy, pls don't take me wrong) does not worth it.
 

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Unfortunately with used watches - there are risks. Anything nice or any watch I expect to use in the water - would get inspected and\or serviced for sure.

I think this does bring up an interesting quandary - quartz watches are supposed to be low-maintenance and cheap to service - but most people view quartz service as a battery change. And since battery can be changed by any Joe Schmo in a mall kiosk - there is a good chance that a person working on the watch is clueless. Gaskets can be left out, clip\retention screw can be lost, scratches all over inside of the case, battery\movement handled w oily fingers, etc.
With mechanical watches - at least there is a better chance that a person working on the watch is remotely competent.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well, if it weren't for used watches, I would have owned a couple hundred fewer watches over the last forty years. And unless its a Rolex or Panerai, the cost difference between new and used can be huge. Most of what I buy is under-$500 and I like some older stuff. If I were to start looking for something like a late model Speedmaster, I think I'd source it through a reputable dealer and not an eBay seller.

In my case, this is pushing me to become more knowledgeable about the inner workings of watches and to acquire some new skills.

I'm a pretty mechanically-oriented person, but being a larger guy, my hands aren't cut out for fine precision detail work. And at 56, they're not as steady as they once were. But if I can remove and replace a caseback or stem, or pull a movement out of a case, anyone willing to put in a little effort can as well.

I think I'm going to begin acquiring some better quality tools.
 

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I can't say this is a used watch learning experience however last Oct I noticed my Wenger quartz watch had some moisture under the crystal. It supposed to be WR to 100 meters. I never had a problem with it in the past and I owned it around 5 years at this point. I did however have the battery changed about a year and half prior to the moisture incident. I took it to my current jeweler who cracked the back of the case and discovered that the last place that changed the battery didn't seat the gasket properly. I had taken it to a jewelry store when I was out of town on business as the battery died and it drives me nuts to wear a watch that is not working. I recall them taking the watch in the back and doing the change. Who knows what they did but my jeweler advised me to leave the case back off for a few days in order to let the moisture dry up. It's still working with no issues but I rarely wear it anymore. At least with my Bernhardt, I won't need a battery change so the WR should remain intact for some time. Since I sail and spend time on the water this is very important to me. I was upset that the other jewelry store did such a poor job and if I recall they charged me around $14usd to do the change. Not a lot of money but I expect them to at least know what they are doing.
 

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I had my Guess watch's battery replaced few years ago and the local jewellers told me that after they replaced the battery they couldn't guarantee that the watch would be water resistant, would you like to proceed? Since then I would never buy a quartz watch anymore unless it's kinetic or solar powered and now I'm into mechanical
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I guess that's just CYA on their part. The case doesn't know what movement is inside.

In my mind, if the person opening it up isn't qualified to make an assessment on whether or not the seal should be replaced, or doesn't have the seal, maybe they shouldn't be doing the battery replacement.

Today I ordered a bunch of generic caseback and stem seals from Frei. I also ordered another (better) caseback wrench- although the $5 harbor freight tool (that everyone else sells for $25-35) seems to work just fine.
 

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I had my Guess watch's battery replaced few years ago and the local jewellers told me that after they replaced the battery they couldn't guarantee that the watch would be water resistant, would you like to proceed? Since then I would never buy a quartz watch anymore unless it's kinetic or solar powered and now I'm into mechanical
Why would you turn away from Quartz just because of that? If you went to a competent watchmaker not some dipshit jeweller you'd have a battery change done, and it'd be guaranteed water resistant by the end of it.

I love mechanicals as much as the next guy, but my vintage Quartz Seiko divers are SUCH great watches as well. I have had one or two turn up with no gasket or the gasket is just old as anything but some common sense would dictate not to get it wet until it has been serviced.

Perhaps common sense ain't so common..
 

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I had my Guess watch's battery replaced few years ago and the local jewellers told me that after they replaced the battery they couldn't guarantee that the watch would be water resistant, would you like to proceed? Since then I would never buy a quartz watch anymore unless it's kinetic or solar powered and now I'm into mechanical
What does that have to do with anything? Unless the case or crown and tube are damaged, water resistance is restored when you replace the gaskets. Quartz vs mechanical makes no difference. But replacing gaskets is not always easy.
 

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I didn't know anything about watches back then. It didn't turn me off quartz completely, I live in a small town and there is no competent watchmaker around, so something kinetic or solar powered would be more convenient.


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I didn't know anything about watches back then. It didn't turn me off quartz completely, I live in a small town and there is no competent watchmaker around, so something kinetic or solar powered would be more convenient.


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Quartz, mechanical, solar or kinetic - you still need to have the water resistance on a watch checked ever year or so, if you will be swimming or showering with it.
 

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Pressure testing is cheap and easy enough. This might be preferable to opening the watch...
 

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Thanks for sharing your experience. This makes me want to get the tools to open all of mine
 

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I didn't know anything about watches back then. It didn't turn me off quartz completely, I live in a small town and there is no competent watchmaker around, so something kinetic or solar powered would be more convenient.


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So.. you don't have a watchmaker around.. but want mechanical that needs servicing every 5 years?

You can't even manage to keep a fashion watch water resistant, how will you possibly get a mechanical serviced?

Your logic is so flawed it isn't even funny. Learn to do a battery change yourself and learn how the gasket is supposed to seat, be lubricated ect and you'll be able to have all the quartz watches you want.
 

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So.. you don't have a watchmaker around.. but want mechanical that needs servicing every 5 years?

You can't even manage to keep a fashion watch water resistant, how will you possibly get a mechanical serviced?

Your logic is so flawed it isn't even funny. Learn to do a battery change yourself and learn how the gasket is supposed to seat, be lubricated ect and you'll be able to have all the quartz watches you want.
Chill, I drive up to sydney monthly and I can get it serviced when I go there. With mechanical I can plan ahead when I want to get it serviced, with quartz I never know when the battery is going to be dead unless I have those with EOL.


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Discussion Starter #19
Spent some time last night looking into testing methods. I ran across some ideas on how to fashion a tester for about $40. We'll see how it works out.

I think most people's waterproofing needs are pretty nominal. Mine needs to be able to get dunked in a lake or a pool or get a drink spilled on it at a beach bar. One atmosphere of waterproof-ness is 14psi or the equivalent of 33 feet. That's about ten times deeper than I've had a watch since I was in my thirties. I'm now wondering how many watches I've gotten wet that didn't have a case gasket, but just a well-machined, snug fitting caseback.
 
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