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Getting the back off

macaw

NAWCC Member
Jul 23, 2014
657
20
18
Minnesota
Country
I'm new to the pocket watches and I need to get the back off my grandfather's Elgin. It's screwed on and doesn't budge. I've tried off and on over many years and want to give it another shot so any ideas would help. I did try a suction cup about 35 years ago, that didn't work, just dulled the engraving.
Thanks,
Mark
 

Jim Haney

NAWCC Member
Donor
Sep 21, 2002
7,538
2,839
113
73
Decatur, TN.
Country
Region
Hi Mark,
I moved your inquiry to the Watch Repair Forum for help in getting the case opened.
 

whizzer

Registered User
Mar 18, 2008
197
4
18
Just had that problem with my father's watch in a swing ring case which hadn't been carried since 1933. In a 74 degree air conditioned room I held it face down in my open palm for about 15 minutes to warm the bezel. Then using a rubber jar opener it unscrewed easily.
 

doug sinclair

Registered User
Aug 27, 2000
14,363
79
48
Calgary, Alberta
Country
Region
This sometimes works. Often, the first reaction of many folks when they encounter a tight case back is to really bear down on it as they turn the back. I have had success using the soft, gentle, and patient approach. Try not bearing down, but make certain the back and your fingers are clean, dry, and not oily. Then don't give up after one or two attempts. If this fails, epoxy a smooth metal bar to the back, leave it for a few hours, then try again. Acetone will dissolve the epoxy.
 

Vinnyd180

Registered User
Sep 28, 2015
138
0
16
Connecticut
Country
Region
I agree with the Railway Eagle. I use the blue nitrile gloves. They grip very well. I have opened a bunch of stubborn screw off cases this way. Try it.
 

Jerry Treiman

NAWCC Member
Golden Circle
Aug 25, 2000
7,348
5,201
113
Los Angeles, CA
Country
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Something else to consider is that on rare occasions a case screw may not be all the way down and the screw head may be catching and binding a threaded case-back. Trying to turn the back actually unscrews the case screw more, increasing the binding. You may note the back starting turn and then binding. Half-head case screws may be particularly bad in this regard as the corner catches and gouges the metal of the back more easily.

If this is the problem it sometimes helps to loosen the bezel a little, allowing the movement and screw head to drop away from the back.
 

Vinnyd180

Registered User
Sep 28, 2015
138
0
16
Connecticut
Country
Region
You don't know how many times I have bought a pocket watch that someone muscled down the case or it just had black junk in the case threads. The thin blue surgical gloves are on my work bench. They are a life saver.
 

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