Loose watch hands are a common problem that many people experience. There are many different reasons why loose watch hands happen, and this article will cover what needs to be done to fix loose watch hands. The first thing you need to do is identify the loose hand and determine whether or not it can be tightened by hand or if a tool is necessary.
If you have determined that you need a tool, there are two types of tools: one with an adjustable fork-like end for small jobs like those on ladies’ watches; the other has loops around its handle that can grasp larger pieces of metal more firmly than any fingers could hope to manage alone.
A loose timepiece may also require new lubrication for it to function correctly.
Here are the steps you should take to tighten a loose hand on your timepiece.
How to fix loose minutes’ watch hands:
The first thing should be taking the watch off your wrist if you are wearing it.
- Removing the straps
You will need to remove the straps to reveal the cannon pinion.
To remove the strap, use a spring bar tool to remove (or change) the strap conveniently.
The loose ends will need to be pulled apart and then threaded back in again before you can continue removing them from around the cannon pinion.
If there is any glue or adhesive residue on either side of the strap (where it was initially sewn into place), this should also be removed as best you can first with an adhesive cleaner like Goo Gone. Once dry, gently pull loose stitches until all have been released – but do not rip them out by force or leave loose threads hanging when finished!
- Removing the cannon pinion
Place the cannon pinion remover on the pinion, and push the remover down by the handle to grasp the cannon pinion. The tool should pull the cannon pinion out on release.
If you do not have the pinion remover, you can use a pair of tweezers.
Identify the loose cannon pinion and grasp the exact location on a small, flat surface like your finger. Pull up to remove the loose cannon pinion from watch movement.
Grab another tooth of the loose cannon pinion with tweezers or pliers and pull it out until it comes off completely. If you are using a tweezer for this process, put pressure down on one side of the loose cannon pinion (clockwise) while pulling in the other direction(counter-clockwise). Rotate around clockwise more times if necessary to loosen it as much as possible before trying to pull outwards.
- Tightening the cannon pinion
First, you need to take off any loose links in the watch. Then loosen the cannon pinion and turn it until there is a space between it and where it used to be. This will create space for your fingers to go inside.
Loosening the set screw on both sides of the cannon pinion
Once you have room, use your finger or thumb to push down on one side of the cannon pinion from underneath while at the same time unscrewing either of those screws with a small screwdriver. The end goal here is that once loosened enough, this should cause pressure from below pushing up against one side of the other loose part (watch hands), which will then allow you to lastly tighten this loose cannon.
Tips to getting the job done efficiently
Before removing any hand, always note the number of hands attached to the stem you just removed.
Each hand usually has two pins holding it. Remove the pins one at a time with needle-nose pliers taking care not to squeeze them too much.
When taking back the hands, always place the hand onto the corresponding pins before tightening with the needle-nose pliers.
Before replacing the watch back, it is best to make sure that all loose hands are securely tightened.
Tighten each hand by holding the stem with needle-nose pliers and then twist in the opposite direction of how loose they were.
What if it is a loose nut that causes a loose watch hand?
Sometimes the watch hand (especially the hour hand) may become loose due to a loosened nut. In this case, you just need to tighten the nut. Follow these steps to tighten it:
The hour hand is frictionally linked to the shaft. First, push it against the shaft until you feel it tighten on the shaft. Ensure you move it slightly not to damage or bend the delicate hand.
Gently push the second’s hand down as you tighten the loose nut with needle-nose pliers. Again, be careful with the second’s hand as it can easily bend and jam against the other hands once you reassemble the watch.
Check the hands for straightness. The hands can easily bend. If any hand is crooked, straighten it and test the watch.
If the hands are still loose, the nut’s threads may have been damaged. In that case, replace the nut, but if the hands are still loose, it could be time to change the movement. This is a sensitive undertaking that should be handled by an experienced watch repairer.
What if your watch gets jammed on one side?
If you think there might be more than two pins attaching the stuck part of the band where the loose hands are, try removing everything but those two pins before taking any action.
Putting the watch back together
At this point, you have fixed the loose hand. It’s time to put the watch back together.
Put everything you removed from the movement and case back into its original position. Put new oil on all of the hands and pins except for the loose hand itself. This hand will be lubricated by your finger when it is inserted into place later in this process.
Insert the loose hand with a small dab of grease or oil toward where it meets with its holding pinion gear wheel assembly until it becomes securely fastened and tightens up against that gear wheel. Put the other components inside of it so they can work without being hindered. You’re done! The loose hand should now move freely again like before, keeping accurate time for years to come if maintained properly.