How to Repair a Water Damaged Watch

A watch against a white background.
  • 1-24 hours
  • Beginner
  • $0-30
What You'll Need
Flat head screwdriver
Clean cloth
What You'll Need
Flat head screwdriver
Clean cloth

No matter how careful you are, you may accidentally subject your wristwatch to water damage. In many cases, it is not an issue and the timepiece will continue to work as always. In some instances, the seals will have become deteriorated. If it is not dried quickly, the parts and gears inside can become rusted and irreparable. Follow the guide below to effectively repair your watch.

Broken Seals

Most watches are sealed so that water cannot enter. It is not easy to tell if the seal on your watch has become damaged or deteriorated. If a moisture leak has been found early and the watch does not spend a lot of time in the water, it is quite possible to repair the watch with a limited amount of work. The gaskets may have to be replaced, and the watch can be resealed. A pressure test can be performed to assure that there are not potential leak areas where moisture can enter.

Step 1 - Minimize the Moisture

If your watch is exposed to moisture or falls into water, move it to a dry location. Dry the water on the outside of the watch with a soft rag. The glass on the front can be easily scratched, so be sure to use a soft cloth to wipe it clean.

Step 2 - Remove the Cover

Open the back cover of the watch very carefully. Often a small flathead screwdriver will turn the cover. Pour out any remaining water. Do not touch any of the gears or parts of the watch, as the watch may become irreparable.

Step 3 - Air Dry

Lay the watch face down in a warm room to allow it to air dry for at least 24 hours. To extra certain all the moisture gets out, place it in a bowl of dry rice. After replacing the cover, the watch will often return to normal. It is still recommended to have the watch repaired by a professional watch repair shop. They will be able to seal the front and back properly to assure no future leaks. Have them run a pressure test to ensure that there are no potential leak areas.

Standard Upkeep

Proper maintenance is imperative, especially on delicate mechanisms like timepieces. Even before your watch fills with moisture or stops working, it is a good idea to maintain it on a regular basis. The inside of a watch is filled with tiny gears and sensitive parts that must be installed perfectly to work properly. Under normal use and regular maintenance, a good watch will work for a lifetime.

It is important to minimize wear and tear when possible. Even though you may not see a crack in the seal, there very well may be one that could ruin your timepiece. Water, especially salt water, can be very damaging to a watch. Find a reputable repair shop to recommend a maintenance schedule for your timepiece.