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What Is a Watch Screwdriver?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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A watch screwdriver is a very precise instrument that is used to drive the extremely small screws that are used in the manufacturing of a wristwatch. Commonly equipped with a swiveling or rotating top section, the typical watch screwdriver is designed to spin with one hand while holding the top with the other. Common to most types of watch screwdriver sets are replaceable screwdriver blades. This allows the blade to be replaced if damaged without replacing the entire screwdriver. The small tools are sold in both flat head and Phillips head blades in varying sizes to fit all of the most commonly used watch screws.

Some of the fasteners used in the assembly of the common wristwatch are only clearly seen through a magnifying glass. These very small screws require the use of a specialized watch screwdriver to turn, tighten or remove from the assembly. Several manufacturers offer precision tools intended specifically for this type of watch repair. Often sold in sets of various sizes and styles of blade, the usual watch screwdriver kit is available in a set that includes a rotating stand to display the tools. It is common for these delicate tools to come with replaceable blades which make it possible to change out a damaged screwdriver blade in a minimal amount of time.

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Most watch screwdriver styles include a metallic handle with a rotating top cap that spins free of the screwdriver handle. This feature allows the user to spin the screwdriver in a speedy manner while controlling the screwdriver by holding the top of the handle. While commonly used under a magnifying glass and with bright lights illuminating the watch works, the watch screwdriver blades are typically finished in a non-glare, black finish. This eliminates the glare that is associated with a polished screwdriver blade from distracting the watch repairman.

The common screwdriver blade used in watch repair is a hardened steel version to withstand repeated use while repairing watches. There are, however, aluminum blades intended for use on alloy fasteners such as those found in very exotic wrist watch design. This eliminates the possibility of a hardened-steel watch screwdriver blade from damaging a softer alloy fastener. Conversely, using the softer aluminum watch screwdriver on a hardened-steel fastener will usually result in the softer screwdriver blade being damaged. Many of the same tools used in the repair of a wristwatch can also be used in eyeglass repair due to the similarity of the fastener sizes.

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allenJo
Post 3

@MrMoody - My watch screwdriver set contains colored heads for each of the screwdrivers. It certainly doesn’t make much of a difference in terms of the functionality of the product, but the colors help me to easily identify different size blades so I can quickly know which ones to use for different projects.

I probably use the tools more than most people do, since I do a lot of work on small electronic devices, many of which use small screws.

MrMoody
Post 2

@Mammmood - I bought a complete watch screwdriver set. It has all the sizes I need in addition to some tweezers and a magnifying glass.

You can buy these sets very cheaply at the home improvement store but mine was given to me from a friend who was a jeweler and was used to working with fine, precision craftwork. He is used to working on Rolex watches (a little too rich for my blood) and things like that.

Watching him don his eyeglasses and work delicately with these precision instruments kind of gives me an appreciation for the finer things in life, whether I can afford those things or not.

Mammmood
Post 1

I have a mini screwdriver that I use for both my watch and my glasses. I don’t know if this is exactly the kind of screwdriver that the article is talking about; it’s used for exterior surfaces like screws in the watch casing, not the actual internal screwdriver parts.

I’m not a watchmaker so I have no need for those other tools. But my miniature screwdriver does come in handy. It has a very fine steel tip.

For my glasses, I use it on the screws for the glass handles and it works great. It’s a precision screwdriver and it gets the job done easily.

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