07/23/2019
 6 minutes

Top 5 Must-Have Watch Tools & Accessories

By Tim Breining
Top 5 Must-Have Watch Tools & Accessories
Top 5 Must-Have Watch Tools & Accessories

Whether you have just bought your first watch or already amassed a small collection, it doesn’t take long to realize that certain tools and accessories make watch care and maintenance much easier. From changing the band and buffing out scratches to storing your watch on the go, here’s our list of must-have items.

We’ve made a list of the 5 most important tools and accessories for watch aficionados. These are especially useful if you’re the type of person who likes to take matters into their own hands when it comes to watch care. Of course, you could always bring your timepiece to a watchmaker to have the band changed, but it’s never a bad idea to learn how to help yourself. Whether you should trust yourself with the watch in question depends on your own skills and how much the watch is worth. As an experienced hobbyist, I still take my time and consider whether I feel comfortable carrying out even the simplest “repairs” on a valuable watch.

Price aside, many people second guess themselves initially before setting a hand on their own watch. However, once you’ve changed a band or two and polished watch glass a few times, you realize it’s not such a big deal after all. Here’s what you’ll need to get started.

Spring Bar Tool

If we were only allowed one recommendation, it would be a spring bar tool. This practical tool enables you to change any standard watch band with ease. Some versions cost as little as $5; others come free with the purchase of a new band. Buyer beware: If you’re a true watch enthusiast, you know it’s better to avoid going for the cheapest option available! For a high-quality Swiss spring bar tool, you should expect to pay closer to $25. This will get you a reliable and durable model. Don’t be fooled by the similar appearance of cheaper versions; it’s nice to save a few dollars of course, but who wants to risk scratching their beloved timepiece with a sub-par tool?

Bergeon Spring Bar Tool
Bergeon Spring Bar Tool

When choosing a spring bar tool, make sure it has the standard fork sizes (1 and 3 mm), as well as a 0.8 mm fine point for optimal versatility. The bestselling Bergeon 6767-F comes with a fine point and small fork; the 3 mm fork can be purchased separately.

The interchangeable forks allow you to compress every sized spring bar at the designated point and separate it from the watch. Be sure to proceed with caution because an accidental slip could leave you with a scratched lug. Before you try to change your own band, double check whether your watch has drilled lugs. I’m always sure to emphasize this point because I could have spared myself a few scratches in the past, had I been more careful. If your watch has drilled lugs, you can use the fine point and minimize your chance of scratching. Simply pass the point through the lug to compress the spring bar.

The fine point can also be used to shorten metal link bracelets in tandem with a small pair of pliers (though a pin driver is preferable).

If this is all sounding a bit too risky for you, but you’d still like to change your own band, I can recommend taking a closer look at spring bar tweezers. They aren’t cheap, but enable easy, scratch-free removal of spring bars.

Polywatch

Another essential item for any watch fanatic is Polywatch. We could use a more general term like “Plexiglass polish,” but Polywatch is the most well-known brand and always tops the list of polishing agents in watch forums.

It is an affordable and effective solution for removing scratches from acrylic glass. There is a mineral glass version, but the reviews are more mixed. The classic Polywatch, however, is a must-have for vintage collectors considering most vintage timepieces feature curved acrylic watch glass.

Watch Box for Home and Away

If you’ve ever transported your watches from A to B, you know how valuable a watch box that fits into luggage can be. Some compact models are about half the size of a piece of printer paper and as tall as a fist, yet can still hold up to eight watches. If you can bear more lightweight protection, a watch roll is unbeatable in terms of its watches to space ratio.

Watch storage

Obviously, both options are also suitable for use at home. But if you’re looking for something a bit more stylish, check out hinged, glass-top boxes. You can find entry-level models starting at $25 that will do the job, however, watch enthusiasts rarely settle for the basic model. There are plenty of handcrafted storage options made of fine materials that are available for considerable sums of money.

Caliper

What do you need a caliper for? Is it really that difficult to measure the size of your own watch (or look it up online)? These are valid questions, but the primary use for a caliper is to measure the lug width of a watch. This helps ensure you buy the right size band and clasp, avoiding any mishaps.

Some lugs have unusual dimensions that are best measured using an affordable caliper. Exact measurements make shopping for suitable bands and spring bars much easier. It’s important to measure bands and clasps because bands tend to taper toward the clasp, meaning the width at the lugs may be 20 mm and only 18 mm at the clasp. Tapering can be even more extreme than that or completely absent. A caliper will help make sure you get the right size band and clasp for your watch.

Caliper
A caliper (digital model shown here) is great for measuring lug width.

Magnifying Glass or Microscope

Having a magnifying glass isn’t necessary for simple tasks like changing a band, but one certainly belongs in every watch collection. If you invest time and money into this hobby, you likely appreciate the detailed finishing of high-end watches. A magnifying glass allows you to view details that are invisible to the naked eye. The most affordable magnifying glasses are typically lacking in sharpness and overall look and feel. We, therefore, recommend opting for a higher-quality model.

Watchmaker's magnifying glass and pocket microscope
A magnifying glass opens up another depth of perception, and a microscope takes things one step further.

A microscope enables you to see the very finest details of a timepiece. If you take a closer look at edges and surfaces, for example, you can quickly see how the prices of watches can vary so vastly. We admit, purchasing a microscope just to look at watches may be slightly over the top, but we’d actually recommend buying a pocket microscope. These compact devices can cost as little as $25 and work surprisingly well. You really have nothing to lose! If you point your phone camera through the lens, you can even take close-up pictures. These photos are proof of the quality.

Timing Machine 2.0

Timing machines help measure the movement of watches in different positions using a microphone. Professional devices easily cost four figures and are obviously intended for serious workshops. However, imported timing machines are much more affordable and fully sufficient for collectors and laypeople.

A newer variety that may appeal to younger generations is a timing machine app. There are several out there available for Android and iOS devices, such as Clocktuner, Tickoprint, WatchCheck, and WatchTuner. The apps rely on a microphone to determine the accuracy of your watch. They work with your smartphone’s built-in microphone, but are more reliable when used with an external microphone. Some apps are free to download, but require in-app purchases to take full advantage of all available features.

Timing machine

Frederique Constant offers a particularly elegant, albeit much more expensive, solution with the “Analytics” clip and app system. The clip features an integrated microphone that can be easily fixed to the watch.

While we’re on the subject of apps, if you aren’t looking to measure the accuracy of your watch, but are curious to find a digital home for your watches, check out the Chrono24 Watch Collection. You can archive your personal collection in one place and monitor changes to each watch’s value. Watch Collection is available on most smartphones and can also be visited on standard desktop browsers.

There they are, our top recommendations for essential watch tools and accessories. Of course, this list doesn’t come close to featuring every gadget out there. The deeper you explore the world of watches, the longer your must-have tools and accessories list grows. However, if you’re new to the hobby, these five recommendations are more than enough to get started. What’s your experience with useful accessories? Tell us which accessories you already use and which are missing from our list.

Read more

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About the Author

Tim Breining

My interest in watches first emerged in 2014 while I was studying engineering in Karlsruhe, Germany. My initial curiosity quickly evolved into a full-blown passion. Since …

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