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How to Remove a Bezel From a Pocket Watch

Updated April 17, 2017

Removing the bezel of a pocket watch is a simple procedure. However, different types of pocket watches require different methods for removal. You can get products that are sold to safely and quickly remove a pocket watch bezel. The most common bezel removers look like an elaborate jar opener in which a circular rubber grip is attached to the bezel to twist it off. A bezel remover can be expensive. Most bezels don't need such equipment because most unscrew with just a little hand pressure.

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  1. Place the pocket watch crystal side up in the palm of you hand. Place your fingertips around the edges of the bezel. The bezel is a ring that holds the crystal, or glass, into place.

  2. Rotate your fingers counterclockwise. Continue rotating the bezel until it's free from the watch case. Be careful that the crystal does not fall away from the bezel.

  3. Use a rubber jar opener or a flat piece of rubber no larger than the size of a computer mouse pad, to remove a stubborn bezel.

  4. Use soapy warm water and a toothbrush to gently clean the bezel to free it of dirt and grime. Dry with lint-free absorbent cloth.

  5. Replace the bezel in the reverse order of disassembly.

  6. Locate the lip on the underside of the bezel at either at 6 or 12 o'clock. Snap-down bezels are usually found on older, inexpensive pocket watches.

  7. Insert the case blade or fingernail under the lip and push down. The bezel will pop off.

  8. Follow steps 4 and 5 of Section 1 to clean and reassemble the bezel and crystal.

  9. Locate the two small hinges at 6 o'clock for the case back and bezel. Locate the lip at the opposite end.

  10. Insert a case blade or fingernail under the lip to pry open the bezel. The bezel will remain on its hinges.

  11. Put two drops of oil on each of the hinges to lubricate them. Wipe excess oil with a lint-free cloth.

  12. Follow steps 4 and 5 of Section 1 to clean and reassemble the bezel and crystal.

  13. Tip

    It's best to sit at a clean, flat table that is raised chest high to allow your arms to rest on the tabletop and allow you closer inspection of the bezel.


    Never force off a bezel or case back of a pocket watch. You will break something or strip the threads of a screw-down model. If the bezel is too stubborn with modest pressure, take it to a watchmaker for removal.

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Things You'll Need

  • Rubberised jar opener
  • Dish soap and water
  • Toothbrush
  • Lint-free absorbent cloth
  • Case blade
  • Watch oil and oiler

About the Author

Rob Wagner

Rob Wagner is a journalist with over 35 years experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines. His experience ranges from legal affairs reporting to covering the Middle East. He served stints as a newspaper and magazine editor in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wagner attended California State University, Los Angeles, and has a degree in journalism.

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