how to open a  pocket watch

How To Open A Pocket Watch

We get a lot of questions about how to open pocket watches so we thought we'd share a quick blog for you today. At Vortic Watch Company, one of the most common things we do is convert family heirlooms and other antique American pocket watches into custom wristwatches.

The first thing we need to know before converting a pocket watch is where it came from and what specs it has. The only way to do this is by looking at the actual mechanism hidden behind the back cover.

If you're like most people, you probably haven't spent a lot of time around these antique pieces, and therefore probably wouldn't know where to start when it comes to opening one up.

We're here to help!

Step 1: Is it "Open Face" or "Hunting" style?

Open face - Open face pocket watches have a clear crystal (glass) on the front. The crown (winding knob) is almost always at 12 O'clock while the second hand is at 6 O'clock. The case front and back either thread or "pop" off using a thin metal tool (think butter knife or pocket knife).

Hunting - Hunting pocket watches were originally used by hunters. They needed a way to protect the crystal from cracks and scratches while they were active during hunting trips, so they created a case that had a metal cover on top of the crystal. These cases will almost always have a hinge and pop open on the front and back. Sometimes the back will have a secondary cover that operates the same as the outer cover. Additionally, the front will usually pop open automatically when you press the crown like a button. These watches' crown is at 3 O'clock and the seconds at 9 O'clock, so the watch is oriented correctly when you press the crown with your thumb while the watch is in the palm of your right hand.


Step 2: Is it a "pop off" or "threaded" case?

Pop Off - Pop off cases should do precisely that; the cover should "pop" off. There are two types of these. Some have hinges and others separate from the case completely. A thin metal tool is needed to get these covers off, and you can usually find a tab or gap in the seam to insert that tool. You will see a great example of this in the video below.

Threaded - Threaded pocket watch cases are pretty self-explanatory. The cover simply threads off. When these cases have not been opened for a while, it can be quite difficult to get the covers off. We recommend using a rubber jar opening grip or exercise band to get a better grip on those covers while you press and twist the case between both palms.


Step 3: Open up that case and take a look


Step 4: Send us your photos!

Send us photos of your pocket watch and we'll tell you more about it or help you convert it into an awesome Vortic wristwatch!


To learn more about how to open your pocket watch, check out the video below!


Don't forget that if you're ever looking for a way to bring your family heirloom pocket watch with you into the future while honoring the past, Vortic Watch Company is the place to start.

While we covered the most common types of pocket watch cases today, there are others. If you have questions about your case, feel free to reach out to us for help!

Thanks for reading, and we appreciate any questions and feedback you may have.

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