Opening a Vintage Timex Case

Disclaimer: Do this at your own risk

Stainless steel snap on case back

On a majority of vintage Timex watches getting access to the movement is as simple as popping off the stainless steel case back. To do this place your case cushion onto a flat surface. Put your Timex crystal side down onto the case cushion and hold firmly in place. You could also use a case vice if you need more purchase. Then look around the edge of the case back and find the “tab”. Using your case back removal tool, gently pry off the case back at this point.

Some cases have a helpful gap on the case between the lugs which can be used to give you more leverage providing the case back tab has been positioned to match.

With some pieces being over-worn you may find that the tab has been flattened meaning your case back opener will not get any grip. In this case use the blade from a large box cutter/Stanley knife. Position the edge of the blade into the gap between the case back and watch case and find a point where you can get some leverage.

WARNING: be careful not to damage the watch case or your fingers/hand.

Inside the case back you may see a stamped code which can be useful in ensuring the parts of the watch are all original.

Undersized or no case back (AKA go in via the crystal)

Some watches have a small case back that is designed to help with servicing and are too small top allow the watch movement to be removed from the back. In this case it is likely that access to the dial can only be done via the watch crystal (the glass that is over the dial).

Follow our crystal removal guide for more details.

Side opening cases

In some special cases like some super-tin pieces, you need to split the case to access the movement. This is done through a seam that runs around the edge of the case. Using a box cutting/Stanley knife blade locate the seam. Insert the blade making sure the blade and case are level and pry open.

WARNING: this can often cause damage where the blade intersects with the case so be careful.

Waterproof Locking Case Backs

On some of the early vintage Timex Marlin’s, Timex used a two piece case-back featuring a base plate and a second ring that locked the plate into position and created a waterproof seal. If you’re lucky enough to find one you can some times purchase an original Timex repair tool designed specifically for this job. If not then you can try a standard stud case back opener or I’ve found that with a pit of patience these can be opened using a small jewelers screwdriver.

Using the original tool or a studded case back opener is simply a matter of ensuring the tools “studs” match the holes in the case back and giving it a twist. You may need to put the case into a hand or bench vice first (use wood blocks to prevent case damage) as the watch cases are small and you could hurt your hand.

Using a screwdriver insert the blade into the hole and give it a gentle push counter clockwise. Go around each of the holes in the case back to try and unfreeze the mechanism and it should eventually come off. Be careful not to damage the case back.

Screw down case back

Early Skindivers and later stainless steel cased Viscount pieces had screw down case backs. These can usually be removed using a rubber ball case back removing tool and simply screw on and off.