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A nice battery-powered wristwatch is a wonderful accessory that you can use for certain occasions or a night out on the town. You likely own at least one watch that is set aside for these special moments. But how does it affect the battery in your watch to simply let it sit idly by? How long do watch batteries last in storage?
A good watch battery should last at least three years, and many can last longer if properly cared for and stored. The length of time that it takes for the battery life to run out depends on the type of battery, features the watch has, and the environment in which the watch is stored.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these important factors in trying to decide how long your watch battery may remain in storage.
How Long Do Unused Watch Batteries Last?
The type of battery is the most important factor in understanding how well your watch battery can last in storage. It is crucial to check the owner’s manual of your watch to see what the recommended battery is from the manufacturer. Some watches take very specific batteries; others can take multiple kinds. Some watches allow for rechargeable batteries; others do not.
Here are a few of the common types of watch batteries:
|Type of Battery||Average Shelf Life||Important Notes|
|Alkaline||5 years||Alkaline watch batteries are similar to your standard household batteries. When these batteries run low, they tend to leak and corrode, which can cause damage to the mechanism of your watch.|
|Lithium||10 years||Lithium batteries are widely regarded as the best option for watch batteries. They have a long shelf life and a low rate of discharge during use. The major disadvantage with these batteries is that they are not rechargeable.|
|Lithium-Ion||3 years||Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable and a great battery for watches with multiple features that might cause an extra power drain. They also have a low rate of discharge, sometimes lower than their regular lithium counterparts.|
|Silver-Oxide||3 years||Silver-oxide batteries are button batteries that have a much higher energy capacity than a comparable alkaline battery. They are fairly common batteries for watches and, while they don’t perform at the high rate of lithium batteries, they have a reasonable lifespan.|
|Zinc||2 years||Zinc is a safe alternative to lithium or even alkaline batteries in that they do not pose a risk of causing corrosive damage to your watch’s mechanism. However, zinc is the least efficient for energy use and has one of the shorter life spans of the batteries on this list.|
What Causes Watch Batteries to Drain Faster in Storage?
Two factors can cause watch batteries to drain faster while kept in storage: features and the environment they’re stored in.
Active Watch Features
Does your watch have a chronometer? Does it have LED or any other light-up mechanism? Do you use your alarms frequently? All of these features can impact the rate of power drain that causes your battery’s life to run down more quickly. But even if you are not actively using the watch, these features can drain extra power if they are not intentionally switched to an “off” position.
With that said, a good rule of thumb is that, during storage, you should turn off all the “non-essential” features on your watch. Even many LED features on your watch can be turned off or minimized, saving power where appropriate.
Age of Watch Battery
Many watch batteries will last an average of 3-5 years, so depending on how old your watch is and how long it’s had the same battery, it could have a harder time retaining a charge, especially after its “Use-By” date.
So, while your battery’s life will be extended when simply sitting in storage, keeping batteries beyond their suggested “Use-By” date means that their performance will begin to exponentially decrease the further past that time frame.
The most important factor that can affect your battery life in storage is climate. Batteries tend to maintain their charge in conditions of low humidity (less than 50%) and cooler temperatures (78 degrees F or less). But maintaining these conditions—i.e., keeping humidity and temperature constant—is also just as essential. If temperature and moisture levels fluctuate, this alone can decrease the battery life by as much as 15%.
How Do You Maintain Watch Battery Life in Storage?
The only effective way to truly preserve the life of your battery is to remove it from the watch and store it in a dry, temperature-controlled area.
Your watch will not suffer any damage from having the battery removed. You will just have to remember that when you reinstall the battery, you will need a few minutes to set up your watch’s features once again.
Does Stopping a Watch Save Its Battery?
Like mechanical watches, some battery-powered watches have a feature that allows you to pull out the stop in some way, effectively shutting down the watch from its regular operations. This does allow you to save some wear and tear on the watch and is especially helpful for watches that you may only use for special occasions and, thus, don’t need to have run regularly.
However, the battery continues to run as long as it is in the watch. Yes, setting the watch to shut down its basic functions will save some battery life, but as long as the battery remains in the watch, it continues to power the watch even if the watch is not “running.”
The introduction of watch batteries made owning a watch so much simpler. They also allow for many features that mechanical watches often cannot offer. But like any battery-operated device, you want to be mindful of how your use and storage of the watch drains its battery life and what kind of battery your watch uses. If you can remember these simple guidelines above, you will thoroughly enjoy your watch and maximize the use of its battery—and the life of your watch.