We've all been there. You dress in your finest suit, favorite shoes, and top-grade leather belt only to realize it doesn't match your favorite timepiece.
What's a stylish man to do? Not wear a watch at all? Change up your entire look to match that watch strap?
Of course not; you're a stylish guy who understands how classic your favorite watch is. This is where knowing how to change your watch strap comes in handy.
But where do you start when it comes to replacing watch straps? Don't worry, gents; I'll show you just how simple it can be.
I'll be covering:
- What's Needed To Replace A Watch Strap?
- Removing The Old Watch Strap
- Installing A New Watch Strap
- How To Change NATO Watch Straps
- Tips On Replacing Watch Straps
#1 What's Needed To Replace A Watch Strap?
Replacing watch straps can seem daunting at first, but it's pretty simple after you have the proper knowledge.
Whether replacing the strap on your dress watch or classic chronograph, this method will work on most watches that utilize spring bars.
Before getting started, you'll need these specific items to be able to swap out your old watch strap for a new one.
You'll need the following:
- Flat level surface
- Towel or soft cloth to protect your watch from scratches
- Spring bar tool
- The new watch strap
- Additional spare spring bars
#2 Removing The Old Watch Strap
Once you have the necessary items, it's time to remove your old watch strap.
A pro tip before getting started is to use a dark-colored towel or cloth for your workspace, as it can be helpful if you lose one of those pesky spring bars. The contrast of the dark towel can help you locate the spring bars much easier.
Now let's remove that watch strap:
- Prepare the surface you'll be working on.
- Lay out your towel or soft cloth to prevent scratching your watch.
- Set your watch face down to access the underside of the straps.
- Locate the spring bars that hold the watch strap into the watch's lugs.
- Using the forked end of the spring bar tool, position it on the spring bar's notch.
- Push inward toward the watch strap and release the spring bar
- Remove the strap and spring bar entirely from the watch's lugs.
- Repeat this process on the other side
Now you're ready to replace your old watch strap with a new one.
#3 Installing A New Watch Strap
Now that you have removed the old watch strap, it's time to install the new one.
Before getting started, select a new watch strap that is the same size as your old one.
If you haven't done this already, the best way to know the strap size is to measure the space between the inside of the watch's lugs. Most men's watch straps will be somewhere between 18mm-22mm but can vary.
If you land in-between sizes, it's typically best to size up rather than down. For most rubber or leather straps, you can still get the slightly larger strap to fit. This will likely not work, however, for metal straps.
Once you have selected the best watch strap for you, it's time to install it:
- Orient the strap, so the buckle is at the 12 o'clock side of the watch.
- Put the spring bar into one hole of the watch's lugs.
- Use your spring bar tool to depress the opposite side of the spring bar.
- Lower it into place until you hear an audible click.
- Repeat this process on the other side
Now you've successfully installed your new watch strap.
#4 How To Change NATO Watch Straps
The above method works on most watch straps, with a spring bar going through the strap. But what about fabric watch straps?
We know it's best to match your watch with your outfit, but what if you want to change things up and install a fabric strap like a NATO watch strap?
The process is the same when removing the old watch strap. Once you have removed the old strap, this is where things differ.
NATO straps are different from regular watch straps in that they loop through the watch and spring bars rather than have a part of the strap that the bars go into.
Once you have the old strap removed, installing a NATO strap is easy when you follow these steps:
- Reinstall the spring bars into the watch's lugs on both sides.
- Orient your NATO strap so the buckle is on the 12 o'clock side of the watch.
- Slide the strap through the 12 o'clock spring bar until the short end of the strap is resting against the spring bar.
- Take the long end of the strap underneath the case and pull it up and under the 6 o'clock spring bar.
- Then, take the long end of the NATO strap and pull it through the ring on the short end of the strap.
- Pull it snug
Now you have a watch with a fresh NATO strap that looks amazing.
#5 Tips On Replacing Watch Straps
After you have the proper knowledge, you can easily swap out watch straps anytime you choose.
Like most things, there are additional tips and tricks to be on the lookout for when it comes to replacing watch straps.
These tips provide additional information and offerings that can help you replace your watch straps or give you a slightly better option for ease of use.
Quick Release Spring Bars
Quick-release spring bars can be a handy tool if you want to change the watch strap more easily to change the style.
The best part is that watch strap companies have been making watch straps with these quick-release spring bars integrated into the strap. That way, you can swap them out on the fly; no tools are needed.
While these won't work on all types of straps where the spring bars aren't integrated, they can be a great addition to NATO straps if you want to swap those out more frequently.
Curved Spring Bars
These specially designed spring bars are a fantastic addition to any fabric watch strap, like a NATO strap.
These curved spring bars allow the fabric strap to contour slightly for a great fit.
These won't typically be a good option for leather straps as they're too stiff, and these won't work at all for metal straps as they are machined perfectly straight through.
Curved spring bars are a great choice if you're looking to add a little more comfort to your fabric straps. They even make quick-release curved spring bars to make it that much better.
Invest In A Watch Repair Kit
Watch repair kits are a great tool that every guy can use.
Not only do they have the tools necessary to replace watch straps, but also they feature an array of tools and spare parts that you can use to change a watch battery, for example.
These kits are a great addition to your arsenal if you like to do things yourself and not have to go to the jeweler whenever you need to swap a battery or change a watch strap.
They also usually have a watch case holder to place your watch in to keep it safe from scratches while working on it.
There you have it, gents.
That's everything you need to know about replacing watch straps. Once you've mastered this skill, you can change out just about any watch strap in your collection. Check out this article if you want to know how to buy the right size watch for your wrist.