How to Disassemble Quartz Clocks

Quartz clocks are an incredibly common variety that tends to require less maintenance than pendulum clocks, and often cost a fraction of the price. Found anywhere from the walls of your office to the wrists your watch rest on, quartz crystal-driven clocks are generally easy to disassemble with just a few basic tools.

Clock Face Almost Midday Time
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How to Disassemble Quartz Clocks

What are Quartz Clocks?

A quartz clock is a timekeeping device that does not require a pendulum to measure the passage of minutes or hours. These clocks rely on tiny fragments of quartz crystals – a widely-available mineral rich in silica and oxygen – to regulate the movement of their parts, which they do with incredible accuracy. When placed under mechanical stress, quartz crystals can convert voltage in a process called piezoelectricity, thus keeping a time-piece running without the need for regular winding or maintenance.

How Do Quartz Clocks Work?

A quartz wall clock is made up of a battery, a microchip circuit, an electric motor, gears, hands, a clock face and, of course, a quartz crystal. To get things started, the battery sends an electric current to the circuit board, which creates pressure on the quartz, causing it to vibrate. This energy then heads back to the circuit board, which turns it into one second pulses, or ticks. These precisely-timed ticks get the electric motor going, which creates the mechanical power needed to turn the gears that move the hands that measure time on the clock face.

How are Quartz Clocks Disassembled?

In order to safely disassemble a quartz clock without damaging any of its components, you'll want to take care to follow the order in which they rest upon each other.

First, remove the battery from the back of the clock to cease power, along with any screws holding the back in place and pop off the back. Next, flip the clock over and use a flathead screwdriver to pry the plastic cover off. Use your fingers or a set of needle nose pliers to carefully remove each of the clock's hands one at a time from the hand shaft, which is the anchor in the center of the clock that all of the hands are attached to. If there is a second hand on your clock, you may need to use your pliers to remove a small nut and cap that holds the hand in place.

Once your clock hands are removed, you can reach the movement of the clock, where all of the internal parts are stored. Use a pair of tweezers to pull out the plastic gears as well as the metal contact strips for the batteries. The copper wire-coiled electric motor can go next, followed by the oscillating quartz crystal and, finally, the circuit board.