Replacing batteries in watch cuffs

Hi Paula,

I have purchased 2 native american watch cuff’s.  I would have had  to  have the batteries  replaced in them every year .  Is there a kit  that I can buy to replace the batteries in thesewatch  cuff’s my self.   The jewelry stores in my area , now they do not want to replace the batteries in these watches.


Tommy Moore Cuff Watch showing the decorative wings that must be opened. Underneath the wings are tabs that secure the watch in place. They must also be opened so that the timepiece can be removed.

Hi Debra,

Just for sake of completeness in this answer, I want to point out that it is easy to replace the battery in a link or expansion band watch because the back of the watch is exposed so it is easy to access. Many people do it themselves or an ordinary jeweler can do it for you.


An expansion band watch showing how there is easy access of the back of the timepiece.


Similarly, there is easy access to the back of the timepiece in a link watch.

However, I know you are asking about cuff watches………..they are trickier because the watch face must be removed completely from the cuff bracelet so the back of the timepiece can be accessed. To do that the fans and anchor tabs must be opened and unless you do have the correct tools and know-how you could damage or break the fans or tabs.

My husband and I have both tried to replace the batteries in my watch cuffs. I have also taken them to local jewelers – all with varying degrees of success.

Now I mail all my cuffs to an experienced Native American jeweler when I need a battery replaced. (see the end of this article for contact information).

To extend the life of the battery, I always pull the watch stem out when I am not
wearing my watch cuffs. This stops the watch and the battery lasts longer.

Alternatively you could use a watch that doesn’t require a battery change such as a good old fashioned wind up watch, a kinetic watch (one that self winds in response to your normal everyday arm movements, sometimes referred to as a self-wind or mechanical watch), a solar watch (also called eco drive watch), or a Quartz watch (one that runs on a quartz crystal).

Native American jeweler that we use – contact

Diane Radeke
P. O. Box 55935
Phoenix, AZ  85078


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Bear Claw Cuff watch by Navajo Elaine Sam

12 thoughts on “Replacing batteries in watch cuffs

  1. Very nice answer to this, Paula. I would like to add a couple of comments about the selection of a good watch for a cuff bracelet. I hope they will be helpful.
    (1) The wind-up old-fashioned mechanical watch could be a good choice, but care should be taken that the crown is easily accessible for winding. In your illustration, if that were a wind-up, that particular watch might have difficulty being wound given the location of the crown. Suggestion: if using a vintage watch, before installing it on the cuff make sure it is keeping accurate time for a few days. Getting this “old-school technology” repaired today can be quite costly, far in excess of the value of the timepiece, and it is increasingly difficult to locate a good repair person. BTW, mechanical watches made today tend to be geared toward the luxury market & can be VERY expensive. (2) An automatic mechanical is similar to the first, but it has an oscillating weight that winds the mechanical watch movement as the person moves. They also may suffer from accuracy issues, and also may be costly to service. (3) The kinetic is a different kind of movement than the mechanicals, but like the automatic must be worn to create the energy to power the watch, which is stored in a capacitor within. After a few years the capacitors usually need to be replaced. (4) The Eco-Drive is indeed a solar, or light-powered watch, produced only by Citizen Watch Co. It does have batteries within it that store energy & act as a back-up (if not exposed to enough light), but according to the company these should last about 10 years. (5) Last is the quartz watch, which is the most common one seen today–affordable and highly accurate. They are powered by a battery which needs to be replaced every year or two. The quartz crystal within the watch is what regulates the time-keeping, but does not itself run the watch. Your advice to pull out the crown is spot-on, as it will indeed help preserve the battery life when not worn. The quartz watch is probably the least attractive of the choices though, as the relatively short battery life will require the watch removed from the cuff repeatedly.
    All things considered, I would probably choose a Citizen Eco-Drive. But one more caveat: Make sure that the watch band is removeable (and not integrated into the case) and that the lug width (the space between the arms) will fit the cuff bracelet. Many designs feature watch bands that are fully integrated into the design of the watch case itself and if the band is removed, there may be no way to attach the watch to the cuff. Also, if getting a Citizen, be sure it is an Eco-Drive, as the least expensive Citizens are not Eco-Drives, but simply quartz watches.
    best regards, Cindy

  2. I have had watch cuffs for 40+ years and have always found it practical to put a non battery watch in the cuff. The first one I had the fan got broken trying to change a battery and that cured me.

    • I hear you Doug. We receive quite a few watches in estate lots that have a broken fan or more, and some have been that way for years and years. Beautiful cuffs but not useful as is so have been sitting in a box somewhere. What kind of watches do you use in your cuffs?

      • I first started using a Seiko self winding watch back in 1963 and have used them ever since. Of course, back then they were way cheaper but still find them to be an excellent watch.

  3. Great info from Paula and Cindy. I’d also point out that all watches may need repair at some point. I have a big collation of mechanical and also more recent watches; I’ve also got a Citizen Eco here, believe it or not. And had a watchmaker who was expert at all of them. But once a watch is put onto one of these watch cuffs, a jeweler is needed who also can remove them and put them back. It is great to have Paula’s resource for that. Thank you for posting the name and address, Paula.

  4. Thank you as always for the referral Paula! We appreciate it. Cindy’s explanation of different types of watches was very helpful. I’ll add that our silversmiths are able to alter a watch bracelet’s tabs to fit different lug widths as well as repair or replace fans or tabs that have broken off.

  5. im trying to change my grandmas battery but i cant find out how to do it .its a wind up watch. Its not a cuff watch can anyone help ? someone said they posted a link but i cant find the link.

  6. Could you please recommend a jeweler in Central Texas, Dallas, Fort Worth, Or Oklahoma that could properly change the battery in my Thomas Fransisco cuff watch. it has a Quartz watch with tiny turquoise stones in the face. I love it.

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