How to Remove Stem from Watch?

There are times when your wristwatch might need a little tender loving care, perhaps an internal repair or battery change. One crucial component in such scenarios is the watch stem, a piece that requires careful handling. This article is your definitive guide to understanding and safely removing a watch stem.

The watch stem is the rod-like piece that connects the crown (the piece you twist to set your watch) to the internal movement of the watch. Occasionally, for various reasons ranging from repair to replacement, you may need to remove this stem. This process, while delicate, can be accomplished with careful attention and the right set of tools.

Engaging in DIY watch maintenance can be rewarding and can save you a trip to the watch repair shop. Before you embark on this journey, however, it’s essential to understand what you’re dealing with and why. Let’s explore the world of watch stems and how to handle them proficiently.

What is a Watch Stem?

The watch stem, also referred to as the “crown shaft” or “winding stem,” is a tiny rod that links the outer crown to the inner movement of the watch. This connection allows you to wind your watch, set the time, or adjust the date, depending on the watch’s complexity. Understanding the watch stem’s function is essential before you begin the process of removing it.

Why Would You Need to Remove a Watch Stem?

There are several reasons why you might need to remove a watch stem. The most common reasons include performing maintenance, replacing a worn or damaged stem, or upgrading the crown. However, keep in mind that this process requires precision and patience, and if you feel uncomfortable at any point, consider consulting a professional watchmaker.

Tools Needed to Remove a Watch Stem

Removing a watch stem requires a few basic tools. First, you’ll need a watchmaker’s screwdriver or a pin vise. Secondly, a soft, clean cloth is essential to protect the watch from scratches. A pair of tweezers may also come in handy for handling the small components. It’s essential to use tools specifically designed for watch repair, as other tools may damage the delicate parts. Also, remember to ensure your workspace is clean, well-lit, and uncluttered for the task at hand.

Step-By-Step Guide: How to Remove a Watch Stem

Now that we’re familiar with the watch stem and have our tools at hand, let’s delve into the step-by-step process of removing it.

Step 1: Preparation

Lay the soft cloth on your workspace and carefully place the watch on it, ensuring that the crystal (watch face) is protected. Using the right size of watchmaker’s screwdriver, unscrew the back of the watch.

Step 2: Locating the Release Button

Look for the stem release button. This is usually a tiny button or lever inside the watch movement. Use your watchmaker’s loupe (magnifier) if you have difficulty locating it.

Step 3: Releasing the Stem

Using your pin vise or a small screwdriver, gently press down on the stem release button. While holding down the release button, gently pull on the crown.

Step 4: Removing the Stem

As you’re pulling the crown and holding down the release button, the stem should slide out smoothly. Ensure you handle it with care to avoid damage.

Step 5: Post-Removal Precautions

After successfully removing the stem, place it in a clean and safe location, away from dust or potential damage. Remember to keep the stem in a secure place to avoid misplacement.

Common Mistakes to Avoid While Removing a Watch Stem

Removing a watch stem requires precision and attention to detail. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Exerting excessive force: Applying too much pressure while removing the stem can cause damage to the watch movement or other delicate components. Use a gentle and steady approach.
  2. Skipping the release button: Failing to locate and press the release button before attempting to remove the stem can result in difficulty or potential damage. Always ensure you find the release button first.
  3. Not securing the watch properly: It’s crucial to place the watch on a soft cloth or watch holder to prevent scratches or accidental slips during the stem removal process.
  4. Losing small parts: Take extra care not to misplace or lose any small parts, such as springs or washers, while removing the stem. Keep a clean and organized workspace to minimize the risk.

What to Do After Removing a Watch Stem?

Once you’ve successfully removed the watch stem, there are a few steps you can follow:

  1. Inspect the stem: Examine the stem for any signs of wear, damage, or corrosion. If necessary, consider replacing the stem or consult a professional watchmaker for guidance.
  2. Clean the stem: Use a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe the stem gently, removing any dirt or debris. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could damage the stem’s surface.
  3. Perform maintenance tasks: If your intention is to perform maintenance or repair work on the watch, this is the ideal time to proceed. Ensure you have the necessary knowledge, skills, and tools before attempting any repairs.

When to Seek Professional Help?

While removing a watch stem can be a manageable task for some, there are instances where professional assistance may be required. Consider seeking professional help in the following situations:

  1. Lack of experience: If you’re unfamiliar with watch repair techniques or lack confidence in handling delicate components, it’s best to leave the task to a trained professional.
  2. Complex watches: Some watches, particularly those with intricate complications or delicate movements, may require specialized tools and expertise beyond the scope of a DIY project.
  3. Valuable or sentimental watches: If the watch holds significant monetary or sentimental value, it’s advisable to entrust its maintenance to an experienced watchmaker to prevent accidental damage.

When seeking professional help, ensure you choose a reputable watch repair service or a certified watchmaker to ensure the integrity of your timepiece.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it safe to remove a watch stem by myself?

Removing a watch stem can be done safely if you have the necessary tools, knowledge, and patience. However, if you’re unsure or uncomfortable, it’s best to consult a professional watchmaker.

What if I can’t locate the release button on my watch?

A: Locating the release button can sometimes be challenging, especially on certain watch models. Use a watchmaker’s loupe or consult the watch’s manual to identify the exact location of the release button. If you’re still unable to locate it, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance.

What should I do if I damage my watch during stem removal?

Accidents can happen, even with the utmost care. If you accidentally damage your watch during the stem removal process, it’s best to bring it to a professional watchmaker for repair. Attempting to fix the damage yourself may worsen the situation and potentially cause more harm to the watch.

Remember, watch maintenance and repairs require a delicate touch and attention to detail. If you’re uncertain about any aspect of removing the watch stem or performing repairs, it’s always recommended to consult a professional. Your timepiece deserves expert care to maintain its longevity and accuracy.

With this comprehensive guide, you now have the knowledge and understanding to confidently remove a watch stem. Whether you’re embarking on a DIY project or simply seeking a deeper appreciation for the inner workings of your timepiece, remember to proceed with caution, precision, and a genuine passion for horology. Enjoy the journey of watch maintenance and exploration while ensuring the longevity of your beloved watches.


Removing a watch stem can be a rewarding and educational experience for watch enthusiasts and those interested in DIY watch maintenance. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article and exercising caution, you can successfully remove the watch stem and perform necessary repairs or maintenance tasks. Remember, if you’re unsure or uncomfortable at any point during the process, it’s always wise to consult a professional watchmaker for assistance. Enjoy the journey of exploring and caring for your timepieces with confidence and precision.

Sherry's editorial journey seamlessly merges with her passion for horology at WatchReflect. As a seasoned editor and watch enthusiast, she curates insightful guides that cater to novices and connoisseurs alike. With a penchant for research and a flair for storytelling, Sherry transforms horological complexities into engaging narratives. Her mission is to illuminate the path for those navigating the multifaceted realm of timekeeping.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x