When you start searching for your perfect watch strap, it is easy to get overwhelmed by many different details you need to be familiar with to make the right choice. In order to make the job easier and determine the best option for oneself, one must dive into the terms often met in the watch strap descriptions. This article’s purpose is to make your job easier by guiding you through the world of watch band buckles. You’ve probably heard or read terms like buckle clasp, flip clasp, deployment clasp, etc. so let us see what is a clasp exactly and learn more about it.
Deployment clasp / deployment buckle
A watch band buckle or a watch band clasp is either the opening part or the widening part of a watch strap. Its main purpose is to connect and secure two strap ends around your wrist and, usually, to make opening and fastening quick and easy. There are several watch clasp types, but they all fall in three main categories:
Watch buckles have pins that go through the holes on the watch straps and secure it around your wrist, while diver watch clasps have somewhat more complicated mechanisms. Let us first go through some common terms tied to the watch buckles or often called pin buckle / tongue buckles.
A pin buckle, a tongue buckle or a tang buckle is just another term for a watch buckle, so don’t let that confuse you, meaning a buckle that secures the watch strap with a pin/tongue that goes through the hole on it. For example, leather straps with a buckle are like the most common thing out there, while leather watch band with deployment clasp is not. The buckles are, most commonly, made of metal such as stainless steel and attached to the watch bands with a spring bar. Some of the watch buckles are fixed to the watch strap with a screw, which is more safe, but also more expensive variants.
Classic leather buckle, watch tang buckle in various finishes and coating
This type of buckle is widely in use and commonly seen on leather, rubber and textile watch straps. The application is the same as the belt buckle. This allows you to adjust exactly how you want the watch to fit you, without having to get it resized. Pin buckle is the classic, simple and affordable type of buckle and probably the most common type of watch band closures in the world.
When choosing a watch buckle, small details such as the buckle's width, should fit the holes on the watch strap.
Similar to the buckles on your belt, buckles can be made simple or have a designer’s touch. They can be round or square, have one or two pins and have different coatings and finishes. Some come with wider pins, which is important, because the pins need to fit the holes on the watch strap so not all buckles fit all watch straps. If you’re pairing a buckle and a watch band on your own, make sure the size or length of a spring bar that connects them is fitting. Some common sizes are 18mm, 20mm and 22mm. Also make sure that the number of pins/tongues, as well as their width, fit the holes on the strap.
One worth mentioning is the one piece long Perlon watch straps' detachable ladder lock buckle can simply be inserted anywhere through the strap rather than through pre-cut holes.
Ladder lock buckle on braided nylon Perlon watch strap
Watch deployment clasps or deployant buckles allow the watch band to be widened without unbuckling, for easier putting on and taking off. Deployment clasps are keeping the watch strap more secure on your wrist than conventional watch buckles and they are also quicker to use. The deployant clasps were invented in 1910s by the famous Louis Cartier. Many watch lovers agree that this is the more elegant typo of watch strap closures. The deployment clasps are usually made of metal and paired with metal watch bands, but there are also watch deployment clasp for leather watch straps and straps made from other materials. There are different watch band clasp types and they are usually named by the way their mechanism works. Now let us see the most common types of deployant clasps.
Two hinges deployment clasp for metal watch band
Deployant clasp / Butterfly clasp on textile watch strap, same mechanism with the deployment clasp used at metal watch band above but have difference connection details
The most common type of deployant clasps is a so called butterfly clasp, but also a deployment buckle or a deployant clasp. It is a type of double locking clasp and is made of two hinges, where one opens to the left while the other opens to the right, similar to the butterfly’s wings. Butterfly clasps are attached to the watch strap with a pin. Some of the butterfly clasps are released by a button. There is also a butterfly clasp with a mechanism hidden on the inner side of the strap that is also called hidden clasp that adds neat look to the watch strap.
Then there are flip clasps or flip deployment clasps that open to just one side, unlike the former, because they are made of just one hinge. The flip clasps can also have a push button release for easier opening and closing. Flip clasps are usually attached to a watch strap with a spring bar.
Roller clasp, single hinge flip deployment clasp for canvas watch bands
Fold over clasps, as their name says, fold over or fold out in order to close or open respectively. They operate on a basis of a hinge and can have a double locking mechanism and a push button release.
Dive watches usually have a double lock clasps for added security. So called dive clasp or security clasp is a type of fold over clasp that also opens to one side, but has one extra flap that holds it closed. They are usually connected to the watch strap with either a spring bar.
Turning Clasp, a double lock diver clasp for metal watch band
Another popular dive clasps is the so called ratchet buckle (also called the wetsuit buckle, dive ratchet buckle, ratcheting clasp or, simply, diver's ratchet). As its name says, it has a convenient ratchet mechanism that allows you to quickly and safely adjust it on the go.
Wetsuit Ratchet Watch clasp with ratchet mechanism has 10mm extension allow fast adjustment
As said before, both buckles and metal watch bands can have different coatings, some examples being gold, black, PVD and so on. The finishes can, also similar to the metal watch bands be brushed, polished, blasted etc.
When buying any watch buckles and clasps, the same quality lenses apply. Make sure the material is good - if you want your clasp to last, you should pick solid, non-corrosive metal, stainless steel being an excellent example. A good advice is to avoid buckles and clasps that are plated with nickel and made from cheap metal alloys, especially if you have a sensitive skin prone to allergy. An example of a need for good replacement watch strap is obvious in the case of the beloved Seiko diver SKX007, where some of them had more convenient and solid clasps than the stock bracelet.
In conclusion, as long as you follow your watch strap manufacturer watch buckle/clasp size recommendations, you can never go wrong with a solid, stainless steel buckle or clasp.
Summary on how to choose the best watch buckle.
Written by M.H. , images by Toni
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