Can A Watch Face Be Polished Or Replaced?

The watch’s face is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of a timepiece. Breaking or damaging it is the last thing you want to have to happen. But in the off-chance that you do damage the watch’s face, can you polish or replace it?

The face of your watch can be polished or replaced. Go to your jeweler and inquire about the options. Sometimes, having the face of your watch polished or replaced will fall under the warranty, but because it usually happens because of external causes, it most likely won’t.

How fast your watch’s face will break or be damaged entirely depends on the materials it’s made with. In this article, we’ll talk about these different materials and what to do when you need to get your watch face fixed!

Table of Contents

Replacing The Face Of Your Watch

Replacing the watch glass is the best option if the glass is deeply damaged or has even shattered. This usually doesn’t happen all that often, but it’s definitely a possibility.

Before diving into the replacement of your watch’s face, let’s first look at the different watch glass materials:

  1. Acrylic glass. This is easily the worst option there is. It’s basically just a piece of plastic that scratches easily. It’s most commonly found on the cheapest watches on the market.
  2. Mineral glass. The most common type of glass you’ll see on most watches. Very durable but can be scratched.
  3. Sapphire crystal. This is easily the best option there is. This material is so durable and scratch resistant that it would rather shatter before actually getting scratched. A sapphire crystal is the standard option for luxury watches.

These three materials are ranked in order from worst to best, with a sapphire crystal being the best option. This material can only be scratched by diamonds and will shatter before getting scratched by any other material.

But in order to shatter a sapphire crystal, you’ll really, and I mean really, need to mess up.

However, with enough force or bad luck, all types of glass will be able to break or crack. When this happens, you probably want to have your glass replaced.

When the glass is replaced, the same type of glass will be used, and the replacement process is pretty simple:

  1. The watch will be dismantled. When the watchmaker receives your watch, he will carefully disassemble the watch. The screws and crowns will be loosened and stored, revealing the inside of the watch.
  2. The watch will be cleaned. After the watch has been dismantled, it will be cleaned. If any shards of glass are present, these will be removed, as well as any other debris.
  3. Your new glass will be measured. Once the watch is cleaned, it is time for your new glass. This new piece of glass will have to be a perfect fit. Therefore, the old glass will be measured, which will be used when preparing the new piece of glass.
  4. The new glass will be placed. Once everything is cleaned up and measured, the new piece of glass will be placed.

The cost of replacing the watch glass will also vary on what material is used. Acrylic glass is extremely cheap and will cost no more than $10, while a sapphire crystal replacement can run you for more than $100.

Polishing The Face Of Your Watch

If you have a minor scratch on your glass, another option could be to polish the face of your watch. You can either do this yourself or have it done professionally (we highly recommend having a specialized watchmaker do this for you, especially if you have a high-end timepiece).

Polishing the watch’s face is basically the act of removing a tiny layer of the upper material. This will even out any scratches, leaving you with a watch that looks as good as new.

Polishing can be done either by a professional or by yourself.

Most affordable watches are made with an acrylic crystal (acrylic crystals were also commonly used before the 1980s), which you can polish with Brasso paste, Polywatch paste, or even with toothpaste. Just make sure the toothpaste isn’t grainy; otherwise, you can cause even more damage.

Mineral glass can also be polished yourself with a kit like Tryuunion Diamond Paste Polishing Kit. But with mineral glass, I would already be weary and would probably prefer to hand it over to a professional.

As for a watch with a sapphire crystal, just leave this to the watchmaker.

Polishing your watch’s glass will be much cheaper than the flat-out replacement of it. We wrote an entire article on how much you can expect to pay for a polish, as the costs can vary widely. But in short, expect to pay anywhere between $40 and $400 (for the high-end luxury watches).

Can You Replace The Face Of An Apple Watch

Polishing or replacing the glass of a traditional watch is actually quite simple, especially if you leave it to an expert. However, with an Apple watch, things become more complicated.

An Apple watch has a touch screen, so messing with it can become quite dangerous. One misstep and you can easily destroy your watch and the technology behind it.

Apple has come out and said that in the off-chance that the face of your Apple watch will crack, they will replace it free of charge. So there you go, the quickest, easiest, and apparently the cheapest way to get your Apple watch face fixed up!

How Much Will It Cost To Polish Or Replace The Face

The replacement of your Apple watch face will be free. This, sadly, is not the case for most other watches. And since the damage to the watch’s glass is almost always because of external factors, this damage usually does not fall under the warranty.

The glass of a watch is extremely sturdy and won’t break that easily. You’ll have to hit it hard, often from the side, to cause the glass to break. It’s actually much more difficult than you’d think.

The actual cost of your glass replacement can differ a bit. A cheaper watch with an acrylic watch face will be relatively cheap. You’re probably looking at no more than $20.

The more high-end watches with a standard, flat face made from mineral glass will probably end up costing you between $15 and $50. You can add another $5 to $10 if you’re glass is dome-shaped.

If we’re looking at luxury watches, it becomes kind of difficult to give an average. Luxury watch brands can charge much more, as most luxury brands only allow specialists from the brand itself to polish the watch.

This means that your timepiece is worked on by a Swiss watchmaking expert, whose wages are on the high end. Added to that is the fact that luxury timepieces come with a sapphire crystal, the most sturdy but also the most expensive option. Prices can go as high as $400.

How To Prevent The Face From Being Damaged

We all heard the phrase ‘preventing is better than curing’. And it’s no different in this situation. Not only will a watch face replacement cost you money, but you’ll also have to give away your watch for a certain amount of time.

As mentioned before, actually cracking your watch’s face is rather tricky. Scratches can happen rather quickly, especially with acrylic glass, but actually cracking mineral glass or sapphire crystal isn’t as easy.

Only a very heavy force or a hard smash on the side of the glass can leave lasting damage.

Luckily, because it’s so difficult to damage your watch face, it will be pretty easy to avoid it. Don’t drop your watch from high surfaces, and don’t smash it against the wall; these are all basic things we already do.

But these are things you can do by accident. I personally dropped my watch more times than I’d like to admit. These things happen, but it does help if you’re aware of it.

What it really comes down to is this; be aware and be careful. Even if the glass is hard to break, it isn’t impossible. One unfortunate mishap and your watch could be damaged!


Jasper has always been a fan of watches. But when he took on a project of restoring a nearly 30-year-old timepiece, he was hooked. Throughout the years, he has learned a lot about horology and shared his passion on Watches of Today!

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