That time when we needed to take our watch to watchmakers in order to change our bracelets is long gone. A simple 3-minute video can show you how to do it nowadays. But in order to keep your watch intact, we heartily recommend using exclusively tools made for this purpose. Here's your quick guide on how to use professional tools for watchstrap replacements like a real pro. And the best of it? They will take care of each watch you ever own and the most important is you can save a lot than finding a watchmaker's help.
In order to get you prepared, let's introduce each piece of the watchband replacement tools and explain what can be done with it. To get started, you'll need a flat, clean surface and a good source of light.
Leather Mat will protect your watch and all of its parts from damage and getting lost around. Plus, it will serve as a comfortable pad, therefore helping you avoid unnecessary movements while you work. The photo below showcases a semi-soft, non-slippery leather mat, rolled up in pocket size, no doubt to bring along even when you are traveling. It will keep all the small screws in one place, plus help you protect both your watch and your watchband from getting damaged and scratched by accidentally hitting hard surfaces.
Screwdriver is one of the most important tools for bracelet replacement and length adjustment. It mainly serves for loosening or tightening screws on your watch's bracelet. The one below comes with several different tips which cover all sizes of typical MiLTAT stainless steel watchbands. The most common tip size we use here at Strapcode is 1.6 mm, but in some cases, we resort to a 1.4 mm or 1.8 mm tips (for thinner or heavier bracelets, respectively).
Your watch and your bracelets often contain such small parts that your fingers cannot help much, regardless of their size. Especially when it comes to pins, but also of good use with screws and other tiny parts, tweezers are your number 1 helper. It will help you reach and pick any small part precisely without effort, and put it in a safe place to avoid losing it in the process.
Changing your watch band is quite easy, regardless of the band type and their kind, this job cannot go without good spring bar tool, or, as some call it - multi tool. Spring bar tool has two working ends: a fork end on one and pin end at another end. Fork end serves for adjustments with spring bar flange, while pin end can be used for removing spring bars through the holes on your watch case and micro adjustments of the pins on watch buckles. Here at MiLTAT, we developed a precision triangular spring bar tool based on the principle of leverage, focusing on thickness improvement. We have also changed the tip on the fork end from standard 1.0 mm to more fine 0.3 mm, to manage some critical case and also to avoid breaking of the tip if excessive force is applied.
To those who are in need of glasses and to those who aren't, having a magnifier when looking at the tiny drill holes on their watch bands is a lifesaver. Another purpose to use a magnifier is to be able to help examine if the spring bar is fitting the lug holes properly.
The main purpose of spring bar bending pliers is just one of the names for watch pin curving tool or spring bar bender. This is a useful tool for cases when your spring bar needs adjustments in order to fit the watch case. Don't take it as a helping tool if you miss the size completely though (only buying the proper one can help in that case). Spring Bar Bending Pliers can help adjust the curve and shape of the bracelet spring bar to fit your watch flawlessly without damaging it. The jaws of the bending pliers are made of high-impact nylon and grooved to hold the spring bar in place while bending. The body of the pliers is made from stainless steel and has a handy grooves on its hands, for a better grip.
Digital calipers are measuring instruments commonly used for inspection in manufacturing to provide the precise measurements of an object. One jaw is fixed to the end of the scale, while the other jaw slides along it with precision to take measurements. The reading is electronically generated and displayed on a digital, high-resolution screen as a single value. They can help you precisely take any measures you may need to pick and set the new bracelets on your watches.
This is another handy tool for pin type adjustment. It probably won't be needed for replacing the MiLTAT bracelets as we use screws instead of pins and collars, but it is super-useful when replacing Seiko stock bracelets for example, or any other bracelet that use pins instead of screws.
The purpose of using tape here is actually not for its sole purpose to hold the bracelet together, as it may seem. Instead, its main purpose is to add a layer of protection from unnecessary contact with the tools to avoid scratches on the bracelet. A temporary mounting tape such as 3M™ Removable Repositionable Tape 665 is most often recommended for this purpose.
It can be very helpful to have a tool that can hold your watch band steadily without having another person hold it for you while trying to remove or a tighten a screw or a pin. When we first developed bracelet holding blocks, it was mainly for our tech team's use while adjusting the bracelets. Since we already had the mold made and thought customers would be interested to pick one up to use at home, we ended up putting it into production. The response was magnificent.
A watch bracelet pin punch with a hammer is mainly for removing friction pins while resizing your watch bands such as Seiko stock bracelet. To use it, hold your bracelet steady and in one place to avoid damage or hurting yourself (use bracelet holding block). Then, adjust the pin punch over a desired pin and tap the punch lightly with the hammer until the pin pops through.
And that's it! To make sure you're doing things as a pro, take a peek at our short video guidance below in case you forget how to use any tool. And congratulations! Now you know how to replace your watchband like a professional!
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Written by M.H., Photo by Toni