Changing a watch strap is easier than you might think
If you have a classic watch and the watch strap that has slowly worn down over time and now needs replacing then here is a quick guide to assist you with updating and changing your strap.
If you are confident with small parts then changing the strap shouldn’t take you too long to do. We estimate 5-10 minutes for someone who hasn’t changed a strap before, 30 minutes maximum. Like anything though, if you are unsure please consult a specialist watch shop to change the strap for you as changing the watch is at your own risk.
Below we have two guides on how to change your watch strap. The first is a guide on how to change a leather watch strap and the second is a how to remove a stainless steel watch band.
Before you begin, we recommend you obtain the following items and prepare the environment accordingly:
Tools and environment required:
Watch strap, adjustment and pin removal kit
A great tool to help you change a strap is the spring bar tool which often comes in kits like the one linked below. This tool allows you to remove most spring bars with ease. You can use other tools but we strongly suggest using this one to minimise risk to your watch and to also make the task easier and simpler for you.
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This great bit of kit also comes with additional extras that you may find useful, especially if you have a watch strap that contains links. It will help you add or remove the links and saves you a trip to the watch repair shop every time you get a new watch. You get a handy print out to give you a reference on how to use each of the individual parts of the kit. Great for first time watch strap adjusters.
Watch Strap replacement Surface required:
A hard flat surface space is required, a kitchen surface or table is recommended. The hard surface allows for steady and even presses when pushing down on any spring mechanisms.
We suggest putting a towel or piece of fabric down to stop the smaller parts from slipping off the surface or rolling away. We all know how much of a pain it can be when you lose a small screw after it has hit the floor. Using a cloth and putting your watch face down on it will allow for some protection to the dial window, reducing the chance of it scratching.
How long does it take to replace a watch strap?
It can take any time between 5-30 minutes.
Take your time if you are new to changing watch straps or adjusting links as trying to do it quickly can often be counter productive.
Top tip when replacing the watch strap:
Always work from the base of the watch, with the face pointing towards the floor, to avoid scratching the watch face with the spring bar tool.
As this is just a guide, Mens Watches UK takes no responsibility for any damage caused to your watch or surrounding objects. If you feel the task is too complicated, please consult a local watch specialist.
How to replace a leather watch strap
- To begin, we need to find where the strap meets the watch.
You should be looking out for what is called a spring bar. This spring bar usually passes through the loop of the strap part connects to where the shoulders of the watch sit.
- Using the watch spring bar tool, put the forked end between the band and shoulders, you can do this from any side.
- Apply gentle pressure, and gently push away until you feel the spring bar release the strap from the watch.
This spring bar, when in place extends to hold the strap in place, releasing that pressure allows for you to remove the spring bar.
You can use a flat head screw driver or a paperclip at your own risk. The spring bar tool is designed to minimise risk and make this task easier.
When the spring bar has released the strap from the watch, remove the spring bar from the strap and put to one side. Place it somewhere on the towel or put it in a pot so you don’t lose it.
Repeat the process for both sides of the watch strap until both parts of the strap have been removed.
Fitting a new leather watch strap
To fit the new strap, it basically involves doing the above process, but backwards.
Where you removed the spring bar from, you will be putting it back in the same part of the new strap and then fixing the strap back to the shoulders of the watch.
- After you have put the spring bar in the strap, make sure the strap is facing the correct way (you don’t want the clasp to be the wrong side!).
- Bring the strap to the watch and put one side of the spring bar into the inside of the watch lug, it should just slot into the little hole.
- Using the spring bar tool, apply pressure on the other side and gently manoeuvre into the shoulder slot. It should fit snug in the watch lug indent.
- Once in, it should feel good and secure; your watch is now back to original form!
Great watch strap tools and kit alternatives
Remember: Specialists can replace watch straps in minutes, if you have doubts, take it to one.
Identifying and changing a metal watch strap
Metal watch bands tend to be slightly more durable than leather or fabric bands. However, after lots of use, they will eventually need replacing. Replacing the band doesn’t necessarily mean it has broken or become damaged it could simply be a reason to enhance and update the watches appearance. There are many metal watch straps you can use and the majority follow the same method to replace.
The guide below will help you identify and change your metal watch band.
The first step to this guide is to see how your current watch strap meets the shoulders and lugs of the watch.
- Check to see if there are end caps and look for screws or holes on the lugs and shoulders that go through the lugs into the strap. If there appears to be a metal covering then please read on.
- If there are no holes then you can use the instructions above to assist with replacing the strap as it is similar to the leather strap. We do however advise you consider purchasing the spring bar tool to assist you with this.
It is a good idea to double check the lugs to see if there are end caps. End caps are extra piece of metal that sit over the top to keep a consistent clean finish to the watch. A great way to identify if you have end caps is to flip the watch over and look for what looks like metal wing shapes on either side covering the strap.
Removing the existing metal watch band with spring bar and end cap.
Disclaimer: Although it is unlikely, Mens Watches UK take no responsibility if any damage is caused to your watch when following this guide. Always consult a specialist if you are unsure or do not feel confident when changing the strap.
Preparing your watch is essential before changing the strap.
- A good tip is to release the watch clasp allowing for more flexibility with the strap. Flip the watch over so the back of the watch is towards you.
- Tilt the watch so you have access to one side of the band but making sure there is no pressure on the crown of the watch. You will notice that between the small gaps there should be a spring bar situated between the end piece and the lug.
Now that you have identified the spring bar between the end piece and lug, you will need to grab your trusty spring bar tool.
- Using the tool, slip the forked end into the gap you have discovered and gently push down and towards the centre of the spring bar.
- Gently release the strap and remove the bar. It should just about slip out. You will find the end piece will come with it. Remember this as the spring bar will need to thread back through the end piece of the new strap when the new one is fixed in its place.
- Once the strap has been removed, you will need to remove the spring bar from the strap. This can sometimes be quite tricky depending on how small the hole is. You may need an additional tool to do this, for instance tweezers. If this is looking in pretty bad shape, you may need a new spring bar.
- Locate the other side of the watch and do the same again to release the other part of the strap. Making sure the spring bar tool catches, and applying the smallest amount of pressure, slide and manoeuvre the spring bar free.
Your watch will now be free of its metal strap and you are ready to begin replacing with a new one.
Fitting a new metal watch band guide
- Grab your new band and put the parts either side of the watch so you can identify the correct way it needs to go. This is a great tip because you don’t want to have to go through the steps again!
- Grab one end of the strap and put either a new spring bar or the old spring bar into the end piece and then link it to the top end of the strap.
- Place your thumb on one end so it does not slip through.
- Tilting the end piece slightly with the end caps behind the end piece, a bit like having the door ajar to the frame. This will enable for smooth transition of the next part.
- Using your thumb gently put that part of strap end in line with the lug of the watch case and then using the spring bar tool, put pressure on the bar and slide into the lug.
- Remove the tool and the bar should then release. Wiggle the strap and end piece gently until you feel it has secured and the spring bar has sit snug in the indents.
Repeat by doing the same again for the other part of the strap and remembering to be gentle when putting pressure on the spring bar.
Your new, clean metal watch strap should now be fixed in place
Some of our favourite watch straps and bands
There are many bands and straps you can choose from for your watch. If this guide has made you want to change your strap yourself then take a look at some great watch straps below:
Leather watch straps
Metal watch straps
Thank you for reading this how to change watch strap guide.
Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API