Ask the Watch Woman: Batteries 101

Ask the Watch Woman: Batteries 101

Editor’s note: Sheila Gendron is stepping in temporarily for National Jeweler’s occasional watch columninst, her son Jess Gendron.

Why is it important to know how to do such a seemingly menial and simple task as a watch battery replacement correctly?

Far too often, we see watches that need major watch repairs that could have been avoided by a little education. These are repairs that cut into a store’s bottom line because a clerk made an error while changing a battery, or pulling out a screw-down crown without unscrewing it, or improperly opening a caseback, or myriad other innocent mishaps that can ruin a customer’s watch. Cause these problems enough times and your reputation is ruined.

Your store is not only judged by your inventory, but also by your level of service. I have a friend who tests a hair salon by how well they wax her eyebrows. If they treat that service like it was beneath them, or don’t do a good job at it, she won’t let them cut her hair.  

Many customers surreptitiously will have you replace a battery in a cheap watch before they bring you their Rolex for repair, just to see how you handle something as simple as that. If you handle it in a caring and professional manner, you’ll get their business. If not, you’ll miss out on profits.

Watch battery replacement services can lead to many opportunities for building profits in other ways as well.  

You can create a database of potential customers in other areas of your store by having a reminder service. Send the battery customer a yearly postcard to remind her or him to have their battery replaced again, or offer a “five-year battery,” which means you will replace her or his battery for the next five years for free at a one-time price of, say, $39.95 (or whatever your market bears).  

If her or his watch is beyond needing just a battery, you have an opportunity to service the watch or sell the customer a new one. Plus, you now have a customer who will return several times in that five years and you can use your sales skills to sell her or him other items and services.

Now, changing a watch battery is not rocket science, but doing it correctly and professionally is a skill. You need to know what not to touch, when to open a watch (hint:  it’s not the first step in the process), where to perform the task (not on a back counter with your butt facing the customer), what equipment will help you (use a case press, not the edge of a counter) and many more nuances of the process.

Because of our commitment to jewelers’ profitability, we are offering a free video on replacing watch batteries (scroll to the bottom and click where it reads “Free Download.)

But don’t do any of this if you are going to treat a watch battery replacement service like a pain in the neck. If that’s the case, then just leave the profits to your competitors.

Sheila Gendron is one of the founders of Colorado Timeworks, a watch service center for single or multiple location retail jewelers. It also offers watch service training, conference speaking and seminars. Contact Colorado Timeworks at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to open an account, or visit  

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