Sticky Button Fix - Fenix 3 (maybe 5/6)
This isn’t so much a question, but an answer to the sticky button problem on the Fenix 3.
I think this is likely a possible solution for the other series of Fenix watches based on photos I’ve seen of how the buttons are assembled.
Start by fully disassembling the watch, remove as much of the interior components as possible. On the fenix 3, I removed everything except for the barometric pressure/temp sensor. I would also suggest you remove the seal around the circumference of the watch casing, as you will be handling the casing a lot and you don’t want to risk tearing the gasket.
On the inside of the case, behind each button is a curclip. Use a small tweezer to pull/push the curclip of. Push/pull depends on your ability to grab the curclip with your tweezer, in my case I had to push them. Be careful because these curclips can pop off with some power, and can be difficult to track down if they go flying across the table.
On the curclips are removed, you can pull the bottons off. Pushing the button stem from the inside of the casing can help if the button is particularly sticky. When removing the button, you will also find a return spring. Also note the notches on the casing recess for each button, these help orient the buttons in specific positions. This will need to be matched during reassembly.
Now you can clean the buttons. I used some CRC QD Electronic Cleaner. This cleaner is typically used in automotive applications for cleaning electrical connectors. It is safe for plastics and dries VERY quickly. Start by spraying the watch casing, Each button has a recessed channel for the button and return spring to sit inside of. Spray each recess, then take a small pick and gently scrap away and crud/gunk/etc. You can blow and spray this gunk out, then use a small piece of napkin pushing into the recess to get a final wipe and clean.
You can also repeat this process on the button itself, the underside where the spring sits. I don’t think it is necessary, but it is sort of a “while you are in there too” situation. Be careful of the button stem, there is an oring here. Do not damage or tear this oring.
Finally, I use some Sil Glyde to lubricate the hole the button hole in the watch casing. This is a silicon based lubricate, safe for plastics and rubber. Just a small amount, applied to the hole that each button stem will slide through. I also suggest applying a small amount of sil glyde on the button stem as well, specifically around the oring that sits on the stem.
Finally you can reassemble each button. Start by setting the spring into the recess, then position the button so it matches the recessed notches in the watch casing. You can simply drop the button in, and rotate it until the stem fully passes through the watch casing. Finally slip the curclip back into the grooved channel on the button stem until it firmly clicks into place.
Place the internal components back into the watch case, and test the button feel. The button operation should be smooth, have a nice staccato like detent and then spring back to its original starting position. The detent or click feeling of the button comes from the actual button on the “motherboard”. This is what provides the satisfying “click” feel. If there is no click, either the buttons are not actuating smoothly, or perhaps something is wrong with the button on the motherboard. You can test the motherboard button by simply pressing it and feeling for the detent. If there is a detent feel from the button on the motherboard, but not from the button on the watch case, try cleaning the casing and button again.
Once all internal components are installed into the watch casing, remember to reinstall the gasket that seals to the watch bezel around the entire circumference of the watch face. Here you can take a small amount of sil glyde and lightly and sparingly spread some around the entire gasket. Finally reinstall the watch bezel, and tighten the screws slowly in a criss cross pattern, like an X.
This was done on my almost 6 years old Fenix 3. I was “inside” the watch replacing the original battery with one I purchased here from iFixit. I also just figure it would be nice to finally take care of my sticky buttons. I hope this helps someone else revive the buttons on their watch.
Again, I think this can be done on other version of this watch. From all the photos I’ve seen of the Fenix5 and 6, the buttons are designed in the same manner. The only difference is the disassembly of the internal components.