If the backlight of your digital watch weakens, the readout fades or the screen just goes blank, you probably need a new battery. You should expect a watch to need a battery replacement every few years. To replace the "button battery" yourself, you’ll need to know the 3- or 4-digit number that specifies its size.
Read the back of the watch. The battery identification number may be specified there. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.
Search for your owner’s manual. It may be model-specific and tell you what size is needed. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.
Search for the model’s manual online by entering the brand name and model number in a website search engine. If none come up in the search that are model-specific and contain the battery size, proceed to the next step.
Remove the back of the watch to look at the numbers on the battery directly. You may need a knife to wedge the back off, since the gap between the watch back and the rest of the body is usually very slender. A screwdriver will almost never be narrow enough to fit into the gap. Look for an indent under the watch back and insert the knife there. Work the knife around the edge, prying the back away. Don’t press the knife into the watch; otherwise, it could slip and cut the hand holding the watch.
If your watch is expensive, you may not want to open up the back yourself. This also applies if a gasket (rubber ring) keeps the back of the watch waterproof. Improper reinsertion of the gasket could damage it, and it might not be replaceable. Watch repairmen will replace a battery for $5 to $10. You should recycle your old battery by dropping it off with a watch or jewelry retailer anyway. Since you'll already be there to do that, it may be best to have the jeweler determine the battery size and replace it for you.
Match the positive side of the battery with the positive mark in the watch. The electronics of the watch could be damaged if you reverse the battery’s polarity.
Paul Dohrman's academic background is in physics and economics. He has professional experience as an educator, mortgage consultant, and casualty actuary. His interests include development economics, technology-based charities, and angel investing.