How to Remove a Watch Bezel that Got Stuck on the Case (Newbie Guide)
Look at a watch, and you will see a small ring around the edge of the crystal. You are looking at the watch’s bezel. A bezel keeps the watch crystal from being scratched or broken, and some rotate, like the bezel on a diver’s watch which acts as a timer.
Normally, a bezel can be easily popped off from the watch case and replaced with a new one with the same construction. We offer loads of SKX007 parts, bezels included. If you want to know more about how to swap a bezel, you are in the right place!
Why Would You Want to Remove a Watch Bezel?
Some people want to remove a watch bezel and replace it with a new one for aesthetic purposes. There are a lot of design options out there with different finishes, styles of edge patterns, and even different materials. If it has a bit too many scratches, you may also want to replace it with a more pristine bezel.
Most bezels installed in sports watches are either uni- or bi-directional rotatable to provide handy timing functionality. Some watch enthusiasts prefer to bring new styles to iconic watches like what Marlon Brando did on his reference 1675 Rolex GMT Master.
Now that you look at it, it does look more macho. Source: Forbes
By removing his watch bezel to make it better fit the grizzly military setting of the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, Marlon’s unusual-looking watch gained attention when it came up for auction in 2019 and sold for $1.95 million.
Marlon Brando successfully made a new style of watch that looks like a field watch but is totally unique.
Although, while removing a watch bezel is generally easy, it’s possible to damage your watch in the process. You will need to be careful, and pay attention to the mod. Also, make sure your watch’s bezel is made to be removed, as some are built onto the case itself.
Check If Your Watch Bezel Is Removable
Watches have a bezel of some sort and rotating bezels can be removed easily. However, different types of bezels are attached differently, you’ll want to use caution and check to be sure about your watch before trying to pull the bezel off.
The Tuna bezel is still removable, it's just much harder. Source: Gear Patrol
It's typically sports and divers watches with rotating bezels which can easily be removed. You may want to get started on something like a Seiko SKX as it is easy to find a variety of Seiko spare parts for it and they are simple to work on.
How to Remove a Bezel
After making sure that your watch features the type of bezel that can be removed, you'll need a dull knife for prying and a cloth or tape to protect the case from scratches.
- Place a cloth or tape around the entire perimeter of the bezel to prevent you from damaging the watch case when prying off the bezel.
- Press the edge of the knife to the joint between the bezel and the body of the watch and wiggle the knife blade slightly to work the bezel from the body of the watch.
- After a few wiggles, the bezel will be released from the spring. Then you will only need to pull up the bezel.
As said, you will need to be very careful when handling a timepiece’s small parts to pull open the bezel without damaging it.
The Bezel Is Not Popping Off...
Of course, the process doesn’t always go smoothly.
Your watch’s bezel may get stuck because it was repaired and the bezel was not installed properly, or it was replaced by a new bezel, which is just too small for the case but was still forced in.
The part responsible for that satisfying clicking can also get your bezel stuck.
Other reasons include the click spring sticking up in a bad angle causing the bezel to get stuck. Sometimes, it’s also a result of foreign materials such as dust and dirt jamming up the crevices between the bezel and case.
Newer watches will be tough to work with the first time around, as all the parts are in OEM condition. To safely remove the bezel without damaging the watch, you need to use the proper bezel removal tool.
If you aren't careful.. Source: Watch Guy
Otherwise, you can try some home remedies if you don't want to spend money on a bezel removal tool. But please note that these are home DIY tips that might damage the case when not properly executed.
It could be cheaper to just buy the removal tool or take the watch to a repair shop you trust… Still want to know the DIY steps? Read on.
Home Solutions for Stubborn Bezels
Make sure it's sturdy enough to withstand pressure too. Source: Imdb
For friction fit bezels that are meant to actually be tight on the case, you may not have enough of an opening to insert the bezel removal tool in. Since razors are much thinner than knives, using one in the gap between the bezel and case can help create an opening for the knife to be inserted and pry off the bezel.
You need to be extra careful when doing this trick as it may scratch your case and injure yourself!
This next tip is going to sound a bit crude (maybe even barbaric to some watch lovers). Stand the watch by its lugs, hold the knife over the bezel gap, and tap the knife with a hammer. You have to be precise with the positioning of your knife or you risk scratching the case, and the force of the hammer tap should be calculated as well as to not damage the inner part of the case.
You’ll need to put a protective cloth between the knife and case to prevent scratches during this process. This move might be better for cheap watches or modding practice watches.
Some people use a ‘penetrating oil’ like Screw Loose or Break Free which slips into the smallest gaps and will also make the bezel easier to detach. Some say even zippo lighter fluid is good enough to get the job done.
Simply drop a bit of the penetrating oil around the bezel gap and rotate it if you still can to spread the oil. Then, you can try again with using the bezel remover tool to try and pop it off.
Hot Glue Trick
Here’s something with a bit of arts and crafts feel. If the bezel is made of stainless steel (most watch bezels are), you can run a bead of hot glue carefully around the bezel as the heat will cause it to expand and make it easier to remove.
That arts and crafts workshop is finally coming in handy. Source: Watch Repair Talk
Next, you stick the lid from an appropriately sized jar to the bezel. When the glue is solid, it has a lot of holding power and the grip the lid gives makes it easy to remove the bezel.
When cool, it will not stick to the metal and you can pick it off from the bezel very easily.
Soapy Water Trick
If the watch is water-resistant, you can also try swishing the watch in warm soapy water first to make the bezel easier to remove with a knife. Remember to remove your watch strap if it’s not good with moisture like leather straps.
If these fail, we recommend sending the watch to a watch repair shop, or sending it to the manufacturer if it is still under warranty.
Modding can be very rewarding, but you have to know that as with any hobby that involves tinkering, you may run into problems with the parts you have. We hope this short guide and the tricks within were helpful to you. Feel free to share this article with someone struggling to remove the bezels on their watch, and if you have other tips and tricks of your own that was not mentioned in the guide, please share them in the comments below!
And if you’re looking for parts to replace your watch bezel with, you can take a look at our extensive catalog of spare parts that not includes bezels, but also every other part of a watch. When you spend on parts for your next mod, make sure you get what you pay for by choosing a quality supplier!