Watch Band Adjustment Guide

how to adjust metal watch bands

General Tips and Set-up:

-Use a flat, open surface, such as a table to set up your workspace.

-Lay down the towel or cloth on the table to protect your watch from sliding around and to keep the supplies from rolling away.

- Always work on one half of the watch band at a time.

Important Note:  Removing links can be tedious and frustrating. Use caution with the tools to prevent scratching the watch or band, and if any pieces seem stuck or break in the process, we recommend taking your watch to a local jeweler to have it adjusted professionally. Removing links is generally an inexpensive service to have done professionally; it usually costs less than $20. If you prefer to do it yourself at home, carefully follow the steps below.

 

Adjusting a Metal Bracelet Watch Band

There are two common types of metal bracelet watch band structures, the “Straight Pin”  and the “U Pin”.

1) The Straight Pin Design is made up of a simple system of a metal pin within a hole that holds the links together. On some watch bands, the pin is paired with two small metal tubes called ferrules that hold it in place at either end of the link.   

2) The “ U Pin” or “L Pin” Design is made up of a simple system of a U Shaped or L Shaped flat metal pins with friction bumps that holds the links together.

Links can be removed from both of these link styles with the inexpensive tools listed below.

 

Supplies Needed:

-jewelry push-pin tool

-a non-abrasive cloth or towel

-small hobby hammer

-small nosed pliers

- watch working block or piece of foam with slit cut into the middle (something to hold your watch on its side while you hammer and remove the pins)

 

Straight Pin Adjustments

STEP1A: MEASURE & DETERMINE LINKS TO BE REMOVED

Put on your watch and position it to where you want it to sit on your wrist. Pinch the slack and count the excess links, keeping in mind the placement of the clasp, which should be centered on the bracelet. When possible try to take out an even number of links from each side of the band, so that your watch will be balanced and sit evenly on your wrist. For example, if two links need to be removed total, you should be removing one link from each side of the clasp.

STEP 1B: IDENTIFY WHETHER CLASP IS ADJUSTABLE

Some metal watch band designs have a minor adjustment area in the buckle. If your watch band has this feature, you can make minor adjustments by moving the spring bar in the buckle in or out to slightly alter the overall length. If not, proceed to Step 2 below.

STEP 2: IDENTIFY WHICH LINKS TO REMOVE

Look for small arrows on the back of the bracelet links, indicating which links are removable. Make sure to only remove links with arrows, the rest of the links are not designed to be removed. Place your watch band in the holder so that the arrows are pointing down. If there aren’t arrows, look for the side where the pins sit further inside the hole.

STEP 3: REMOVE PINS & TAKE LINKS OUT

Hammering in the same direction as the arrows, align the point of the push-pin tool to the pin and lightly tap against the tool with the flat end of the hammer until you can no longer push the pin inside the link. If there are metal ferrules, they might fall out at this point. The pin should slide out the other side. Use small pliers if necessary to pull the pin the rest of the way out. Repeat this step for the other links you’ll be removing.

STEP 4: REASSEMBLE THE BAND

After all desired links are removed, put the pins back in the pinhole from the same side of the link that you removed them from. The pins fit back in one way, with the tip going in first. Place the watch band back onto the holder and use the flat end of the hammer to gently tap the pins back into place. If any ferrules came out when removing the pins, gently tap those back into place on both sides of the pin hole.  If the pins go in too easily they may not hold, remove them and bend/curve them slightly and replace them. The small bend provides some tension to hold them in place.

 

STEP 5: CHECK THE FITTING

Try on your watch. It should be somewhat loose, but if the watch can easily turn on your wrist the watch band is too loose. You can also remove one link at a time in order to check as you go. Remember, your watch should be balanced and the clasp should be centered when possible.

 

U Pin or L Pin Adjustments

STEP1A: MEASURE & DETERMINE LINKS TO BE REMOVED

Put on your watch and position it to where you want it to sit on your wrist. Pinch the slack and count the excess links, keeping in mind the placement of the clasp, which should be centered on the bracelet. When possible try to take out an even number of links from each side of the band, so that your watch will be balanced and sit evenly on your wrist. For example, if two links need to be removed total, you should be removing one link from each side of the clasp.

STEP 1B: IDENTIFY WHETHER CLASP IS ADJUSTABLE

Some metal watch band designs have a minor adjustment area in the buckle. If your watch band has this feature, you can make minor adjustments by moving the spring bar in the buckle in or out to slightly alter the overall length. If not, proceed to Step 2 below.

STEP 2: IDENTIFY WHICH LINKS TO REMOVE

Look for the links with U/L Pins and/or small arrows on the back of the bracelet links, indicating which ones are removable. Make sure to only remove links with these features, as the rest of the links are not designed to be removed. Place your watch band in the holder so that the U/L Pins are pointing down.

STEP 3: REMOVE U PINS & TAKE LINKS OUT

Use the small nose pliers to squeeze both the top of the link and the inside the U/L Pin until it protrudes above the link. Then use the pliers to pull the U/L pin the rest of the way out. Repeat this step for the other links you’ll be removing.

STEP 4: REASSEMBLE THE BAND

After removing the desired amount of links, put the band back together to form one piece. The U/L pins fit back in one way, with the two points going in first. Place the watch band back onto the holder and use the flat end of the hammer to gently tap the U/L pin back into place. If the U/L Pins go in too easily they may not hold, remove them and bend/curve them slightly and replace them. The small bend provides some tension to hold them in place.

 

STEP 5: CHECK THE FITTING

Try on your watch. It should be somewhat loose, but if the watch can easily turn on your wrist the watch band is too loose. You can also remove one link at a time in order to check as you go. Remember, your watch should be balanced and the clasp should be centered when possible.

 

 

Adjusting a Metal Expansion Watch Band

 

Supplies Needed:

-spring bar tool or small utility/pocket knife

-small nosed pliers or tweezers

-a non-abrasive cloth or towel

 

STEP 1: MEASURE & OPEN UP TABS

While wearing your watch, pinch the slack on the expansion band and count the excess links. You'll need to remove an even number of links. With the band front side down on the cloth, use your fingers to make a V and gently spread the band apart where you'll be removing links. Use a spring bar tool or small utility knife (shown above) to open up and flatten the bottom tabs downward against the cloth. Make sure to bend the tabs carefully, as overbending or extreme force could cause them to break.

 

STEP 2: REMOVE PINS

Slide the band around to the other side and repeat to open the tabs on this side. With the tabs flattened, you'll be able to see the U-shaped pins on either side. Use the small nosed pliers or tweezers to carefully pull out the connecting U-shaped pins between the links on both sides.

 

STEP 3: REMOVE LINKS

The link(s) will now be free to remove. Repeat Steps 1-3 to remove the desired amount of links. Start with the link next to the last one to be removed. Remember to remove an even number of links, so that all remaining top and bottom links will still match up.

 

STEP 4: REASSEMBLE THE BAND

Place both sides on the cloth, front sides up. Use the pliers or tweezers to re-insert the U-shaped pins on both sides of the connecting band links. They have to go in perfectly straight to slide into place, so this may take a few tries to line the band and pins up correctly. Use the spring bar tool or utility knife to carefully bend the tabs back up into place on both sides.

 

STEP 5: CHECK THE FITTING

Try on your watch. It should be somewhat loose, but if the watch can easily turn on your wrist the watch band is too loose. Note: The tabs can become flimsy after bending them, so if you need to add or remove more links in the future, we recommend adding or removing links at a different part of the band so that you don't bend the same set of tabs again.

 

Adjusting a Metal Mesh Watch Band

Supplies Needed:

-spring bar tool or small utility/pocket knife

-small nosed pliers or tweezers

-a non-abrasive cloth or towel

 

STEP 1: MEASURE & MARK

Put on your watch and position it to where you want it to sit on your wrist. Wrap the band around your wrist and hold where the clasp should sit if it fit your wrist the way you wanted. Make a small mark at this location using a water based marker (that will wipe off after).See example above.

 

STEP 2: LOCATE ADJUSTMENT LEVER

Lay the watch band flat on your work surface so that you can see the inside of the bottom portion of the sliding style watch band clasp. Locate the clasp where the mesh band slips through into it. Note the small metal lever just above the hook where the clasp closes. This lever keeps the clasp in place on the band.

 

STEP 3: ADJUST CLASP POSITION

Use a spring bar tool or small screwdriver and insert the forked end under the metal lever between the band and the clasp. Gently lift the metal lever up until it opens enough for you to slide the clasp up or down the watch band. Slide the clasp to the desired location.

 

STEP 4: SECURE CLASP POSITION

Once the clasp is properly situated, use small nosed pliers to press down on the metal lever. The metal lever may click into place with just the force of your hand, but if not use your small hobby hammer and gently tap the back of the pliers until it clicks into place.

  

STEP 5: CHECK THE FITTING

Try on your watch. It should be somewhat loose, but comfortable. If not, repeat the steps above to re-adjust your watch band.

 







Watch Band Measuring Quick Guide

How To Find Your Watch Band Size

Watch band or watch strap size is determined by the width of the band end that attaches to the watch. If you already have a leather band for the watch in question, you can check the back to see if it has a size imprint, shown in millimeters. Otherwise, you will need to find the lug width (distance between the inside of the lugs on the watch head). You can easily measure it yourself in one of the below three ways. 

 

measuring watch band width

Rounding: Rule of thumb for a replacement watch band is that it’s better for the watch band to be tight rather then loose. If you need to round your measurement, rounding up is usually your best bet. A leather, rubber or nylon watch strap can be slightly flexible to fit.


Watch Band Conversion Chart (Inches to Millimeters): 
1/4" 5/16" 11/32" 3/8" 7/16" 15/32" 1/2" 9/16" 19/32" 5/8" 21/32" 11/16" 3/4" 25/32" 7/8" 15/16" 1" 1 1/8" 1 3/16"
6mm 8mm 9mm 10mm 11mm 12mm 13mm 14mm 15mm 16mm 17mm 18mm 19mm 20mm 22mm 24mm 26mm 28mm 30mm

Watch Band Conversion Chart (Inches to Millimeters): 

 

  

PRINT MEASURING GAUGE PDF

NOTE: Before printing, uncheck any “fit to page” or scaling options in order for the gauge to print accurately to size. 

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How To Find Your Watch Band Length

LEATHER, NYLON, RUBBER OR METAL

Method 1: Measure An Existing Strap that fits your watch with a ruler to determine the length. When measuring, only measure the material parts of the strap, do not include the buckle.

Method 2: Finding Length From Scratch
1) Find your wrist size by wrapping a tape measure or a piece of string around your wrist. Mark where the two ends meet then lay the thread out flat on a ruler and measure the distance. Find your watch head size by using a ruler or check the manufacturer for information.

2) Minus your watch head measurement from your wrist size measurement. This will give you the total watch band length needed. Important Note: Not all watch bands are manufactured in every length,  and most metal watch bands are adjustable, so choose the size closest to your size or go longer.

 

Still have questions? View our full length measuring guide by clicking on the link below.

VIEW FULL MEASURING GUIDE