This video will explain how to remove the original bracelet of a watch and replace it with a leather strap or a NATO style strap. Switching out a strap is a simple and economical way to change the look of a watch. While we recommend having this done at a professional jeweler or watchmaker to minimize the risk of scratching, you can also change a watch strap yourself.
You will need a few items to change a watch strap: a spring bar tool, a soft cloth to lay your watch on, a dish to hold small pieces, and of course, the new strap. You can also have painter’s tape and some scissors if you want to take an extra step to protect your watch from scratches.
The first step to changing a watch strap is to remove the existing bracelet from the watch. First check to see if your watch has holes on the outside of the lugs or not.
If your watch does have drilled lug holes, insert the spring bar tool into one hole to retract one end of the spring bar so that you can detach it from the watch case. Then push the spring bar out from the bracelet end link using the same tool and place the spring bar in the tray. Repeat the same process on the other side of the case to detach the other end of the bracelet from the case. Remove that spring bar from the end link and place it in the tray.
If your watch does not have lug holes, we recommend first covering the four lugs with painter’s tape to protect them from scratches. Then, place your watch facing down on the soft cloth with the caseback facing you. Using the spring bar tool, push one side of the bracelet spring bar away from the lug to retract and dislodge it. Detach the bracelet end link from the case, remove the spring bar and place it in the tray. Repeat the same process on the other side to completely remove the bracelet from the watch.
In most cases, the new strap, such as a leather strap, that you will place on your watch will have two pieces. It is important to note that the strap with the buckle will attach to the 12 o’clock side of the case while the strap without the buckle will attach to the 6 o’clock side of the case.
Take one strap piece and thread a spring bar from your dish into the loop. Lay the watch facing down on the soft cloth with the caseback facing you. Insert one side of the spring bar into the lug hole. Using your spring bar tool, depress the other side of the spring bar and push the strap down into the case until you hear the spring bar click into place in the lug. Wiggle the strap a little to make sure it is securely in. Repeat the same process with the second strap piece to attach it to the other side of the case. When you have attached both pieces of the strap to the case, do one final tug check to make sure everything is securely fastened.
Unlike a leather strap that comes in two pieces, a NATO style strap consists of just one long piece. In this instance, after you remove the watch’s original bracelet, you will need to install the spring bars into the lugs without the strap. Again, insert one side of the spring bar into the lug and using the spring bar tool, depress the other side and push it down into the case until you hear the spring bar click into place in the lug. Repeat the same process with the second spring bar on the other side of the case.
Once both spring bars are securely in place, take the end of the NATO strap and thread it through the lugs at the 12 o’clock case side, pulling it through past the caseback, then thread it through the lugs on at the 6 o’clock case side. Then thread the end of the strap through the buckle of the extra flap to secure everything in place.