Anyone can change a watch band with the appropriate tools and a steady hand. It’s possible to give your watch an entirely new personality by attaching a different strap, band, or bracelet, and learning how to do this yourself is a crucial skill. Regardless of your motivation or reason for wanting to remove the spring bars on a watch, this post will offer a few methods for doing so without harming your watch.
Millions of people wear timepieces as helpful accessories every day. Most of the value in watches is in the body and mechanics, not in the strap, and yet an expensive watch without one is pointless. If you want to save money on watch repairs or make your watch more appealing, be sure to read on.
There are a few ways you can remove a spring bar from a watch, but the preferred method is to use a spring bar removal tool:
- Examine Your Watch
- Determine If Your Watch Has Drilled Lugs
- Ensure You Protect Your Watch
- Removing Spring Bars From A Watch With Drilled Lugs
- Removing Spring Bars From A Watch Without Drilled Lugs
- Removing Spring Bars From A Watch With A Metal Bracelet
- Using A Screwdriver
- Using Dental Floss
- Using A Razor Blade
To begin, if you wish to replace the straps on your watch, you should first confirm that it has spring bars and, if so, whether or not it has “drilled lugs.” Drilled lugs make removing the spring bars more effortless, but if your watch does not have drilled lugs, don’t worry; you will still be able to remove the spring bars.
Spring bars are used when a watch’s strap(s) are held in place via tiny bars. These spring bars are connected to the watch’s lugs, each having two little rings near the ends. Lugs, sometimes known as horns, are protrusions on the watch case that are used to secure the strap or bracelet to the case.
Your watch might feature a quick-release band. If this is the case, a small button on the underside of the band will release the spring bars away from the lugs, making removing and changing the band simple.
There may be screw bars instead of spring bars on your watch. Screw bars use screws, as the name implies, to secure the watch strap(s) to the lugs, whereas spring bars use springs. The good news is that removing screw bars is nearly identical to removing spring bars; the only difference is that you unscrew the bars rather than depressing the springs; the rest of the steps are identical.
Certain watches have a remarkable feature known as “drilled lugs” or “lug holes,” meaning that the watch’s lugs were drilled through. The lack of these holes makes removing the spring bars slightly more challenging and increases the chance of scratching the case’s back.
If your watch’s lugs do have drilled lugs, then you’re going to need a spring bar removal tool for this part of the job; one that has a pin on one end and a fork shape on the other (we’ll use the fork shape later if your watch doesn’t have drilled lugs). The lug holes allow you to easily insert the pointy pin side of your spring bar removal tool and release the spring bars to change the strap(s).
If you don’t want to scratch your watch, secure it in a case holder attached to a vice or place the case holder on a non-slip surface. In reality, many people place the watch on a non-slip surface (hopefully covered by a non-scratching cloth).
It is possible to hold the watch in your hand. If you attempt to remove a spring bar by holding the watch upside down in your hand (protecting the watch’s face), ensure to grip the watch firmly with the strap(s) in your non-dominant hand, so it doesn’t slip.
Until you feel the spring-loaded bar release from the lug, push the pin side of your spring bar removal tool through one of the lug holes. When this occurs, wiggle the end of the spring bar free of the lug hole using the tool and your non-dominant hand to prevent it from re-seating. This requires some skill because, if you’re not careful, the end of the spring bar can scratch the watch’s lugs.
This procedure becomes incredibly quick and straightforward with practice. Put the spring bar down somewhere you won’t lose it once you’ve freed it (take care not to let it fly across the room; spares are a good idea, just in case).
For the other side of the watch and the second spring bar, repeat this procedure. You should now be left with a watch without spring bars, strap(s), and, ideally, two spring bars.
As with many watches, let’s say you have a watch without drilled lugs (there are no holes on the outside of the lugs to access the spring bars). You can still remove the spring bars yourself, but it will require more skill and perseverance. For this kind of work, you’ll need to use the spring bar tool’s fork-shaped end.
On a spring bar, the spring-loaded center section ends in two tiny lips that sit flush with the watch case on either side of the bar. The spring bar tool’s forked end should be inserted between the strap and the lug while holding the watch upside down in your non-dominant hand so that the outer lip of the spring-loaded bar is caught by the space between the two halves of the fork.
Remember, it would be preferable if the watch were lying upside down on a soft, non-scratch, and non-slip surface. Or even better, if you secure it in a case holder attached to a vice or place the case holder on a non-slip surface.
Pull the spring-loaded section away from the watch’s lug once you have it (if you’re working with a stiff leather strap, it will be more challenging to get the tool in between the strap and the lug). Pull up just a little to remove the bar from the watch once it has been released from the lug.
Sometimes you can grab it and slide it out of the other lug once one side of the spring bar is free from the case (especially with thinner spring bars). If not, you might need to repeat the procedure to remove the second half of the bar from the watch case.
Now you should have one of your watch’s spring bars removed. Whether your watch uses a two-piece strap or a one-piece, if your watch has non-drilled lugs, you’d use the forked-shaped side of your spring bar removal tool to remove the spring bars from the case.
Removing the spring bars from a watch with a metal bracelet can be challenging because they are designed to fit snugly; however, it becomes simpler with practice. Splitting the bracelet in two before removing the spring bars is advised. Using the pin side of your spring bar removal tool, remove the pin from the micro-adjuster; all you have to do is compress and remove the spring bar.
Now that your bracelet is split in two, put the watch upside down on a non-scratch/non-slip surface and decide which side you will work on first. On each side, the spring bars will be visible. The spring in the spring bar needs to be engaged to remove the spring bar using the forked side of your spring bar removal tool.
Depress one end of the spring bar with your forked tool and make an effort to pull it out of the lug hole. You may be able to get one end of the spring bar entirely freed from its lug hole. If you don’t mind your lugs getting scratched, you can leave the spring bar tip where it is now, resting on top of the lug.
The opposite end should follow suit. While doing this, it is crucial to avoid letting the other end, which you have already removed from the hole, pop back into the lug hole. You should be able to take the full-end link and bracelet off the case once both ends are free of the lug holes.
If necessary, repeat the process to remove the other spring bar. As a reminder, be sure to pay attention to the bracelet and clasp direction for when you reassemble. Another point to consider is that the buckle side of any watch will always be at 12 o’clock, and the long strap side will always be at 6 o’clock.
Using a spring bar removal tool is preferable and, even better, having a jeweler remove the spring bars for you. The steps above on removing a spring bar from a watch involve using a spring bar removal tool; however, you can use some basic household items to do the job instead (at your own risk). And we’ll look at how to remove a spring bar using these items in the next few steps.
We’ll use a flat-head screwdriver and a microfiber cloth free of dust or dirt particles that could cause scratching. This method is suitable for simple bands on smartwatches such as those made by Apple or Samsung.
For stability, make sure your workspace is sturdy and level. You need a flat surface, like a desk, dining table, coffee table, or countertop. Clear the surface and place the soft cloth or towel on top to protect your watch from damage.
The strap comprises two parts: a short end that fastens to the buckle and a long end with holes punched for the buckle. They combine to form the band that encircles the wrist.
With the straps unbuckled, lay the watch face down, flat, and parallel to your body. Work on a single strap at a time.
- Start by firmly holding the long piece of the watch in your non-dominant hand.
- With the flat end of the screwdriver positioned between one side of the strap and the lug, hold it in your dominant hand like a pencil.
- To get a better grip, apply pressure by pushing it downward.
- Release the strap from the watch case by gently prying the screwdriver outward, releasing one end of the spring bar from the lug hole.
- Remove the spring bar and set it aside.
- Take care not to let the spring bar jump off. They are small and easily misplaced.
- Turn it around and repeat the process to remove the second spring bar.
The procedure for removing a watch’s spring bars using dental floss is similar to those previously mentioned. We’ll just list and emphasize the main variations for using dental floss below. The dental floss method works best with watches that don’t have drilled lugs.
As previously stated, ensure your workspace is sturdy and clear. Cut a dental floss piece that is about 12 inches long. Slip the dental floss through the gap between the lugs and the watch strap, beginning with the short strap attached to the buckle.
Run the floss around one end of the spring to make a loop, holding the spring bar inside, and then pull it tight. Yank the floss to get it around the spring bar and pull it away from the lug hole to release.
Be careful once again, as the spring bar might fly off. The benefit of using dental floss is that it is a simple method that carries no risk of damaging the watch band or case.
The blade should be slightly dull to prevent mishaps like cutting through your hand or scratching your watch. A credit card or a small knife would also function similarly to this razor blade technique. Since using this technique to remove the spring bars is essentially identical to the methods mentioned above, let’s get straight to it.
As before, set up your workspace, making sure it is sturdy and clear. Place the watch face down, bands on either side, flat on the surface. Making sure it only touches the spring bar, insert the blade precisely between the watch band and the lug.
Push the blade away from you by exerting a little downward pressure. You can release the spring bar and separate the watch strap from the watch case by doing so.
Again, be careful because the parts could fly off. For the second spring bar, repeat the procedure.
Removing a spring bar from a watch is simple; it just takes steady hands and patience. It is best to use a spring bar removal tool when attempting to remove a watch’s spring bars, but other household items can also do the trick. Be careful when working with your watch; if you feel like you’re going to damage it, stop and take it to a jeweler for assistance.