In recent years, we have seen the elimination of dangerous toxic materials used in the manufacture of cells, both for watches as well as the more common AA, C, and D cells found in quartz clocks.
This makes for easier and less toxic recycling, but this seems to come at a price.
We have seen a rise in battery failure, mostly in clocks but also the smaller watch batteries. The batteries are more prone to leaking, and especially for battery powered clocks I recommend changing the battery once a year, even if the clock is still running.
The chemicals will leak out and damage the battery compartment and can wick along the wires or circuit board and destroy the quartz clock movement. Some brands are more likely to do this than others.
Generally, when this happens we make an attempt to clean out the chemicals and re-establish proper contact, but in some cases the damage is too severe and the movement is kaput.
We change our store clock batteries once a year, in the Fall.
I should point out that battery failure is not a warranty issue, but we make every attempt to address the problem, and both Bulova and Howard Miller are sympathetic to this issue.
In addition, handling or touching the battery, especially in watches, will increase the likelihood that the battery will fail or leak. Under no circumstances should you touch the watch button battery, or the movement inside your quartz watch. Finger cots must be worn to change batteries and this is our procedure, we have seen countless movements with fingerprints burned right into the metal parts.
Of course, you could always take your watch to your friendly neighbourhood watchmaker, and they will change your battery properly for you.