Watch Education Learn To Deconstruct Your Watch

Govberg Jewelers has been expanding their Watch Repair Center and training watchmakers to use chopsticks while they are repairing watches. The chopsticks allow for easy manipulation of the small pieces found inside a watch and expands upon the dexterity of watchmakers.

The Govberg Jewelers team first learned of this technique from Grand Seiko Master Craftsman Mr. Ikukiyo Komatsu. Govberg Jewelers invited Mr. Komatsu to Philadelphia on March 31st where he showed off this extremely complex, technical skill as part of his demonstration.

How to Use Chopsticks

chopsticksOf course, you’ll need a pair of chopsticks. We’ve been told by our watchmakers that the wooden chopsticks work best to grip the pieces. Next time you’re out, grab an extra set! You’ll want to hold the chopsticks just like you would when you’re eating!

  • Rest one of the chopsticks between your thumb and forefinger
  • Hold the other chopstick between your first two fingers
  • Just move one stick at a time to avoid dropping the sticks or what you’re picking up

Going Inside Your Watch

Master Craftsman Mr. Komatsu has been trained for years in the art of watchmaking. In that time, while learning with traditional watch making tools, he worked on using chopsticks to perform the same skills. Here are two ways to start working on your own watches using only chopsticks, one beginners and the other advanced skill.

The easiest repair to make is on your quartz watch. The battery replacement is how our watchmakers first started learning to use the chopsticks to take out parts of a watch, so we recommend starting here when you try. You’ll want to open the case back carefully on a clean, well lit surface. Watches will open in different ways, so check with your model before removing.

Seiko Master Craftsman working with Chopsticks

Battery Replacement

When the case back is open, you’ll see the battery and the size number.  The size will be the most important so you ensure you buy the right replacement battery. Some watches will feature a latch holding the battery in place, to open it grab the end that holds it in place with your chopsticks.

Once the battery is able to be removed, you’ll be able to easily grab onto the battery and remove it from the case. Sometimes depending on the style, you may be able to just use one chopstick to lift the battery out. With your new battery, make sure the plus side is facing up and slide it back into the battery slot. You may need to push it gently down with your chopstick to lock it into place.

Chopsticks Watchmaking

Removing Watch Hands

One of the hardest skills that requires the most dexterity of our watchmakers and their chopsticks, is when they replace the hands on a watch. You’ll first want to practice removing the movement and dial from the case being gentle and not pulling too hard or hitting it against the case. When you’re taking the movement out, you’ll want to make sure that all the power has been released from the watch to avoid damaging any parts of the movement.

When the movement has been removed from the case, put it face up in a movement holder. This holder will clamp your case, just be mindful of how you clamp the movement to avoid clamping the balance wheel and spring. At this point we suggest putting the crown back in so you can easily adjust the time and move the new hands back and forth.

To pull the hands, start with the sub seconds hand. Grasp either side of the hand with your chopsticks and pull straight up firmly. You’ll be doing the same technique for hands on the main piston. We suggest lining up all the hands so they can be removed in one quick movement. Again, you will want to make sure you grasp them all firmly and in one movement, pull straight up until they have been removed.

We hope you’re inspired to try some watch repair at home. There are easy repairs to be made with your chopsticks without needing expensive watch repair tools. You may want to have a small air canister on hand to clean out the movement just in case any wooden fibers fall into the case or onto the dial.

Detail of Watchmaker using Chopsticks

Happy Watch Repairing!


happy April Fools! Please do not try this at home. If your watch needs repairing, take it to an authorized service center. Visit for a free quote. Thank you to Grand Seiko and Master Craftsman Mr. Komatsu.

About Emily Smith
Newbie to watches but a quick learner. She loves the history of watches and loves learning how they work. She prefers Rolex and Omega watches but is learning the history behind other brands. Her watches of choice right now are her vintage Omega Ladymatic that is a mere 19mm and her newest addition, a 1973 Rolex Oyster with a navy dial. While she enjoys the look of vintage watches, she is excited to learn about new models and build her collection.

Watches you may be interested in:

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