Watch Glass Replacement – What To Do If Your Watch Glass Breaks

Man's watch with smashed watch glass

Disclosure: If you purchase an item via the links in this article, we may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. This never affects whether to include the item or not but, in doing so, helps to support our site.

If you have ever smashed the glass in your watch, you may be wondering if, and how, you can get it fixed.

Or you may suddenly notice the appearance of a scratch on the surface of the glass of your watch which is now driving you mad each time you look at it. 

Would you like to know if and what to do to mend it, or how much it is likely to cost? Will the replacement glass cost more than the watch is worth?

We’re here to help answer these questions. 

We have replaced the watch glass (called a watch crystal) in hundreds of watches, and we carry out many of our watch repairs in-house. From simple battery replacements to full services on watches, we see a lot of watch repairs.

We would love to share some tips here to help you know what to do if your watch glass breaks.

Of course, in an ideal world, you wouldn’t need a cracked watch face repair but, sadly, these things happen. We get many customers who may have done nothing more than drop their watch or even tap it at a particular angle, only to discover that the glass has been smashed. 

Another common problem is when you’ve just recently worn a new watch and found that you have accidentally scratched the glass.  A new watch can feel surprisingly different on your wrist from a style you are used to wearing, particularly if it is a larger watch. Some watches have edge-to-edge glass, particularly some of the Storm London watches. Other watch brands, such as Skagen, have very thin glass.

But don’t worry, often the situation can be remedied. 

Vintage fob watch with scratched glass being held
Photo by Gabriel Laroche on Unsplash

Scratched Watch Glass

If you have scratched the glass on your watch, as long as the scratch isn’t too deep, the scratch can be polished out by your local watch repairman or local jewellers. Although, in all honesty, for the time taken to do this, and as a new glass is so reasonable (particularly if it’s a flat, round glass), it is probably more cost-effective to replace the whole glass. 

Sometimes people can’t help but knock the face of their watch, and end up with lots of scratch marks.  This isn’t a problem in itself, although it will make the glass more vulnerable to breaking completely and it obviously looks unsightly.

If you have a scratched or chipped watch glass you will also need to be wary when you take your watch in for a new battery.

It’s not unusual for a jeweller carrying out a watch battery replacement to need to use a clamp to get the back of the watch back on the watch after the battery has been replaced.  If there are any small nicks or chips in the glass or slight hair-line fractures or knocks on the glass, which often aren’t noticed during day-to-day wear, this makes them very vulnerable. Any slight pressure on the glass could easily be the straw that breaks the camels back. 

At Carathea & Jools, we always check the glass before we carry out a watch replacement and will warn customers that the glass is scratched or chipped (although sometimes they are hard to detect with the naked eye).  Sadly scratches and cracks in the glass makes the watch vulnerable and weakens the glass considerably (think about your car windscreen, if it receives a substantial chip it will put the whole windscreen at risk of shattering even from something like a change in temperature).

Scratches on the surface of the glass of your watch also can obscure the glass and make it very difficult to read the time.

What To Do If Your Watch Has A Smashed Glass

If you have smashed the glass in your watch we advise you to pull the crown out immediately.  This is because if the hands are still moving little shards of glass can get under the hands which can cause considerable damage to the watch, including bending the hands or scratching the dial. 

This is particularly important with mechanical and, especially, skeleton watches. We’ve seen irreparable damage done to the movement of a skeleton watch by shards of glass getting caught up in the movement as it keeps moving. Lay a mechanical watch down and try to keep it still when you transport it to your local jeweller or watch repair shop.

Once the smashed or cracked watch crystal is removed completely by the repairer, measurements of the glass will be taken to ensure the right size glass is fitted.

Watch with broken smashed glass
A watch waiting for a new glass replacement

The Types of Watch Glasses Available

Mineral glass is “normal” watch glass, is used in most watches and is not scratch resistant. You would not be able to tell the difference between mineral or sapphire crystal glass by appearance alone. Sapphire Crystal is scratch-resistant and much stronger than mineral glass.

Sapphire Glass is not glass but actually, as the name implies, sapphire crystal, grown in a lab. Sapphire glass is more expensive than mineral glass. 

Some watch brands, like Bering watches, use Sapphire crystal. As an example of the difference in durability, we have stocked Skagen watches in the past.  These are very similar in style to Bering – both of the brands have watches with a very slimline design and hence use thinner glass.  We have had numerous Skagen watch glass replacements to do over the years, yet, we don’t recall ever having to replace a Bering watch glass – they remain strong and unscratched.

When the Bering representative came to show us the Bering watch collection when they were first introduced into the UK, he took his keys to the glass on the Bering watch he was wearing to demonstrate the scratch-resistance of the sapphire glass they use in their watches (please don’t try this at home, though!).  

We have in the past fitted Skagen watches with a new Sapphire Glass for customers who desire the strength and durability of the sapphire glass.

Acrylic glass (made from plastic) are flexible and hardwearing – more on these below.

The Shapes of Watch Glasses

Strangely enough this is quite important. Round, flat watch glasses are easy to source and simple to fit. They come in many different sizes, in increments of 1/10th mm in diameter and ever 0.5 mm in thickness. They come in flat, flat-bottomed domed and domed.

Other shapes such as oval, square and rectangular, can only be ordered only in a few sizes ready-made. This is due to the variety of combination of sizes, so are therefore much harder to get hold of.

If a watch is very precious to you, we can possibly get a glass cut for you – if not in glass then in plastic.

How Much Does Watch Glass Replacement Cost?

A standard, round watch glass done by us will cost around £25 (2023 prices).  If the glass is domed it may cost a little more (approximately £5 more). 

A small Sapphire crystal glass will cost around £28 but the price will rise exponentially with the size of the glass – we can give you a quote and won’t carry out any work until you tell us to proceed with the job.

Watch glass breaks
Credit: Depositphotos

Acrylic Glasses

Acrylic plastic glasses were popular in watches in the 1980s and were used as they were inexpensive, light and a little bit flexible. Because of this flexibility, they withstand knocks well. The downside is that acrylic glasses can scratch much more easily. These watch crystals often dull or cloud a little over time and so impair visibility. They also don’t feel quite as nice to the touch as mineral or sapphire crystal glass.

Swatch watches often use acrylic glass. Acrylic glass crystals are also used almost exclusively in domed-shaped glasses.

Scratches on your acrylic glass are quite easy for you to polish out at home.  You can purchase a tube of polishing compound for a few pounds. You put a drop of the compound on a cloth and rub it firmly against the acrylic.

polyWatch Watch Face Scratch Remover and Repair Polish

Cracked Apple Watch Screen

If your Apple watch screen is smashed or cracked we recommend taking your watch to an Apple store or Apple authorised service provider. Smart watch screen repairs are specialised and you may invalidate any guarantee by having your cracked Apple watch screen repaired by some one who is not authorised.

To Sum Up …

We hope you have found this blog post helpful and would love to hear your comments or questions you may have – just leave your comments below. 

*Please do check with a jeweller/watch repair workshop and take their advice before you carry out any repairs yourself as we cannot be held responsible for any damage resulting from our opinions in this blog post. 

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to our newsletter

This is little Darcy, our miniature Schnoodle, who helps us around the office, ensuring we take regular breaks to throw here ball.
Please also indicate the other subjects you’re interested in below and we’ll only send you what’s relevant. 


* indicates required
Please select your interests