When was the last time you bought something new for yourself? Regardless whether it was a long time ago or not, you really do not have to buy brand new things if you can just exchange parts to make it look like a new. Watch straps are great examples.
For this reason, many watch enthusiasts value and understand the struggle of learning how to change a watch band to make their watches look totally new and stylish the second time around.
A men’s mechanical watches or even the minimalist watches for women are tested to last for a long time because of their durability and fine craftsmanship. However, chances are high that wear and tear can be obvious in some parts especially with the straps. Hence, the need to master how to change your own watch strap.
HOW TO CHANGE WATCH STRAPS?
Like in a surgery, the steps on how to replace a watch strap require you to always be careful and focused during the whole process. There are various points to remember, depending on the type of strap that needs to get changed but the general ones are the following:
- Determine the kind of strap to change. – Check if you need to change a leather, stainless steel, mesh, fabric, or NATO straps
- Prepare the workspace. – You should have a soft, scratch-free, flat and dust-free desk or table
- Ready the tools. – Make sure your kit is complete with all or some of the following: (Although it is recommended to have everything)
- Watch Pin Remover Tool with a Forked End – Use this to hold the watch’s spring bars
- Watch Spring Bar Remover Tool with a Pin End – Primarily used for removing/ changing metal bracelets
- Extra Spring Bars – It is recommended to have extra spring bars especially for beginners since it is possible to lose some bars in the process.
HOW TO CHANGE A WATCH BAND (LEATHER, RUBBER, AND FABRIC STRAP)?
Most collections of classic looking watches have leather straps while the rubber and fabric ones are mostly used on casual or sports watches. However, both can be used interchangeably based on your preferences.
Some leather, rubber, and fabric straps today have capsa spring bars to enable a quick release feature when changing straps. This makes the work easier, but it is your choice to have this or not.
Capsa spring bars enable the quick release feature of some straps. So, if you think this one works for you, then consider using this than manually changing your straps.
Meanwhile, bear in mind that a simple scratch or cut in any straps can defeat its purpose. Thus, it is important to be more careful when changing straps. Regardless of the kind of strap, there are two processes that you need to do: 1) removing the current band, and 2) installing the replacement strap.
Here are the steps for changing a leather or rubber strap:
REMOVING THE STRAP
- Lay your watch on the table, with its dial faced down. You should be looking at its case back and the back side of the strap.
- Gently insert your spring bar tool with a forked end in between the strap and the lug. Once the forked end grabs the spring bar’s ridge, apply a controlled downward pressure to compress the spring bar on the other side. This should make one end of the strap detached from the lug.
- Next, slowly remove the whole strap from the spring bar. Repeat this process for the other strap.
INSTALLING THE STRAP
- Insert the spring bars into the end of each strap. Make sure that they are pushed all the way in the straps.
- Next, attach the straps into each end of the watch. Your strap has two parts: 1) a shorter one with a buckle in the end and 2) a longer one with the holes to adjust it on your wrist.
Here is the correct positioning of straps:
- Shorter part - on the watch’s 12 o’clock end;
- Longer part - at the 6 o’clock end
- Then, using the spring bar tool, compress one end of each strap so it will slide into the watch’s lugs. It is important to double check each strap is properly attached or else it will slip and make permanent damage to your watch.
HOW TO REPLACE A WATCH STRAP (METAL/ MESH BANDS)?
Aside from being more careful when removing and installing a metal or mesh band, there are almost no differences in the steps to follow.
However, you should understand that the watch is prone to scratches because unlike changing a leather or rubber strap, metal bands are naturally tight fit and difficult to compress. You always need a steady hand when changing this kind of strap.
REMOVING THE BAND
- It is recommended that you remove the band’s clasp before detaching each end of the band from the watch. Using a spring bar tool, slowly depress a clasp’s spring bar inward then slowly release it to separate from the lug. Repeat it until all pins are dislodged.
- Lay the watch on the table, with its face down a soft cloth. Although not required, you may tape up the lugs to prevent any further scratches.
- Using again the spring bar tool, find the point where the metal bracelet and the watch meets. Insert the forked end of your tool at one point and slowly depress it to separate from its lug. Repeat this step for the other bracelet’s end.
This video shows a Minimalist White Dial Automatic Watch and how its strap is changed from a leather to a fabric one using the capsa sping bar.
INSTALLING THE BAND
- After removing the band, insert one of the spring bars into the end of one of the replacement straps.
- Try to insert one end of the bar into the hole of the watch’s lug. Then, slowly compress it on the other side to make sure it is attached successfully. Again, this should be done with the shorter strap on the top of 12 o’clock and the longer one at the 6 o’clock side of the watch.
- Repeat the same process for the other strap and then recheck if all are attached well.
HOW TO CHANGE YOUR OWN WATCH STRAP (NATO STRAP)?
Now, unlike the first two replacement straps, a NATO strap is something different. Yes, it is still a strap, can either be a nylon or a leather one but it differs in the way it is installed and styled.
To begin, prepare the watch by removing its original strap. Follow the above-mentioned steps on how to remove a leather or nylon strap. Once removed, attach the NATO strap.
Here’s how you can do it.
For a nylon NATO strap:
- Put again in place the spring bars using the spring bar tool. Then, insert the long end of the strap in between the bar and the case beginning at the 12 o’clock side of the watch. The direction should be from the top going to the bottom side of the watch’s case.
- Pull the longer strap until the desired length. Then continue threading it till it reaches the 6 o’clock side of the watch. Then finish stranding it by inserting it into the buckle of the shorter strap. It should form a long single strap that you can wrap on your wrist and adjust accordingly until you are comfortable.
- Since NATO straps are originally designed longer than the usual strap sizes, they always have at least a centimeter-long extra part after wrapping it on the wrist. That part is usually bent either inward or outward to hide it and to let the watch have an overall clean look.
On the other hand, leather NATO straps are recommended to be installed more carefully as leathers are also prone to scratches when not handled properly.
Here is how you can mount it without damaging its surface:
- After removing the old strap, do not attach right away the spring bars back into place. Instead, lay your watch with its face down on a soft cloth then separate the two layers of the strap.
- Position the leather NATO within the lugs and across the watch’s case back. This is better than “pulling through” the strap in and out the spring bars. Then, reinstall the spring bars carefully.
This method is a bit complicated, but it assures you that your leather NATO is still in perfect shape.
Overall, changing your watch strap is an art you should learn with passion. The different processes are indeed a bit complex to follow. However, those should not hinder you from mastering it. In that way, you can always transform your watch into a new and elegant-looking timepiece; again, the second time around.