An unfortunately common problem we see day to day with watches our customers bring in are damages sustained from improper opening techniques. Every watch is unique with how it's put together. Sap back, screw back, and screw down casebacks are the most common, however other case styles exist such as one piece, sandwich style, and complex multi layer cases seen on watches such as the Rolex Deep-Sea. A prominent example of improper opening techniques we've witnessed was on a Rolex GMT. The GMT caseback screws down using a special tooling created by rolex. This particular caseback had been heavily damaged by someone who attempted to open the caseback as if it were a snapback, using a blade and pry tool to bend, divot, and damage the caseback attempting to pop it out.
This is not the only example of damage we've seen where someone attempted to open a case in a manner nowhere close to how it was designed to be opened. We've seen many high end watches, including ones with solid gold cases, where heaving gashing and gouging was present from attempts to open the case like a snap back when the case was a single solid piece, screwed down, or opened from the front.
Often these damages are present on watches customers have taken to a mall stand or jewelry store or other similar location for a battery change. These are often the result of the location changing the battery having untrained technicians attempting to force it or not having the proper tools for opening and closing the watch. However, such as with the GMT we had pass through, sometimes this damage is present on watches that have no business being opened by someone not certified in watch repair such as an automatic Rolex, which should only ever be worked on by authorized Rolex repair facilities such as Womble Watch.
We strongly suggest to our customers not to attempt to open and work on their watches themselves or to bring them to stores that are not focused on watch repair for work and battery changes. To ensure undamaged work we advise all our customers to research where they bring their watch and make sure they are worked on by certified and professional watchmakers and watch technicians. Sometimes the damage inflicted upon the watches by improper techniques is too severe to repair and can destroy the value of the watch. Other times the damage can simply be severe enough that the cost to repair it is too high to be recommended for repair. This is often the case on vintage watches where improper techniques damaging the case and parts can render repairs to be more costly than the value of the watch due to the scarcity of parts and materials for the repair.
In extremely unfortunate circumstances the damage rendered to a watch from improper opening techniques will not be limited to the case and possibly bracelet. In some situations we have seen scenarios where a blade used to open a case has slipped and cut or scratched the movement of the watch. This is very common in quartz watches where the coil can protrude above the rest of the movement. However, this has been seen in other watches with manual wind or automatic movements. The counterweight in automatics is prone to the risk of damage from improper techniques in much the same way the coil in a quartz watch is.
Womble Watch stands by our CW21 Certified Watchmaker and strongly suggests our customers always seek out professional and certified watch repair.