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The Ins and Outs of Watch Crown & Stem Repair

Written by Anna Currell
April 17, 2023

Watches are delicate instruments that require care and maintenance to keep them running properly. Some of the most vulnerable parts of a watch are the crown and stem, two pieces that allow you to wind the watch and set the time. The watch crown looks like a tiny knob on the side of the case, and the stem is the rod inside that attaches the crown to the movement. If your crown is feeling loose, sticky, or simply not winding or setting properly, it may be time for a repair. In this article, we'll look at how to tell if your watch crown and stem need service, what the repair process typically involves, and tips for extending the life of this important watch component. 

Do Your Watch Crown and Stem Need Repair?

Watches are complicated gadgets, so it can be hard to tell what’s going on inside without consulting a jeweler. Luckily, there are a few ways to check if your watch crown or stem needs repair or replacement on your own:

  • The crown is wiggly or loose: Gently try to wiggle the crown side to side. It should be secure; if there’s any movement, the crown likely needs to be tightened or replaced. 
  • The crown won't stay pushed in: When you push the crown back in after setting the time or date, it should click into place and stay pushed in. If it keeps popping back out, the spring that holds it in place may be worn out.
  • The crown is hard to turn: You should be able to smoothly turn the crown to set the time or date. If it feels gritty, sticky, or stiff when turning, there could be dirt inside the watch that can lead to damage. 
  • Your watch is stalled or stops running: If your watch stops keeping time even when fully wound, it could mean the stem is not making proper contact inside the movement.
  • The date jumps at the wrong time: If your watch has a date complication, the date should flip over precisely at midnight. If it changes at random times, the stem may be bent or damaged.
  • There’s moisture inside the watch: If you see fogging or moisture inside the crystal, water may be getting in through a damaged stem.

If you notice any of these issues, it's best to have your watch crown and stem examined and replaced at a repair shop. Leaving watch crown or stem problems unchecked can allow dirt, moisture, and further damage to seep into the movement.

watch crown and stem

What to Expect from a Watch Crown and Stem Repair Service

Jewelers have the tools and experience to repair your watch correctly. Crown and stem pieces are very delicate and small, which means that the jeweler will have to work carefully and precisely using specialized equipment; watch crown and stem replacement isn’t a DIY job.

Your jeweler will first examine the watch to determine if the crown and stem can be repaired or if they need to be replaced. Replacement is often necessary because the parts are so tiny. The jeweler will remove the damaged stem and crown and replace them with new matching parts. If a repair is possible, the jeweler will use specialized tools to fix any cracks or threads in the original pieces.

In addition to the crown and stem, the jeweler may also need to replace the case tube, which is a small metal piece that holds the crown securely in place, if it is bent or damaged. The entire process requires expertise, specialized tools, and precision to avoid further damaging the watch's intricate mechanisms. Trust an experienced professional for this delicate repair to get your cherished timepiece working properly again.


Care Tips for Your Watch Crown and Stem

It’s important to keep your watch crown and stem in good shape. Otherwise, you could end up with a stalled watch and a reputation for being late to meetings. Or worse, your watch’s inner workings could get exposed to moisture, dirt, or other tiny particles that cause internal damage, which is more expensive to repair. 

To make sure your watch keeps ticking the way it should, take good care not to bump the crown against anything. It’s such a tiny piece that sticks out from the watch case, so it’s easy to bump or whack against things while you’re wearing it. If you know you’re about to do an activity that could put your watch crown at risk, like playing sports, be sure to take your watch off first. 

It’s also important to adjust your date and time carefully. Be sure not to open the crown underwater where moisture could get inside the watch. Similarly, it’s important to firmly press the crown in when you’re finished adjusting so that nothing gets inside; it should click when it’s securely in place. 

Cleaning your watch often is also a good idea. Use a soft cloth to wipe down your watch at the end of each wear, and then store it safely in a cool, dry, soft place. 


If you need your watch crown or stem repaired, work with our team at Quick Jewelry Repairs. Our professionals have years of experience replacing these little parts with precision and skill, so you can get back to wearing your well-working watch (and show up on time to meetings).

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