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How to Open a Pocket Watch

Updated February 21, 2017

The design and purpose of the pocket watch has not changed much over the years. First introduced in the 1600s, a pocket watch was originally owned by only very wealthy gentlemen. As the ability to make these watches improved, they became available in a wide variety of styles from elaborate engraved and filigreed gold to plain tin cases affordable to the common working man.

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  1. Inspect the case of the watch. You are looking for a tiny indentation on the rim of the watchcase.

  2. Gently insert the edge of a thin, flathead jeweller's screwdriver into the indentation.

  3. Carefully twist the screwdriver. The back of the pocket watch should pop open, revealing the mechanical workings inside. In some cases, a second back cover is under the outer slightly domed shaped cover.

  4. Repeat this procedure if the watch has the second cover. This second cover is known as a dust cover.

  5. Open the front glass cover of the watch by gently pressing on the crown, or top, of the watchcase. The glass front should pop open.

  6. Tip

    Some pocket watches have screw-on bezels and backs. If you cannot locate an indentation on the watch, hold the watch flat in one hand and unscrew the back or bezel from the case.


    If you find you cannot open your pocket watch, take it to a jeweller and have him show you the proper method. Forcing a pocket watch open can destroy the locking mechanism and the watch may not close properly again.

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Things You'll Need

  • Flathead jeweller's screwdriver

About the Author

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