Whether you have one watch or a collection of watches there is a simple way to get the most out of your watches. Changing the strap of your watch can totally transform it’s appearance and having a selection of straps is a quick and easy way to have a little fun with your watches and to ensure that they always coordinate with your look. Never again will there be an excuse the wear a watch with a brown strap whilst wearing your black shoes in the office (imagine the horror of such a faux pas). Simply change the strap to match.
But that is a job only to be tackled by a professional right? No, you’d be surprised by how simple and easy it is, check out my video at the bottom of this article and you will see it can easily be done within 90 seconds.
You will need a spring bar tool. These can be bought for a couple of quid. If you intend to infrequently change your strap a cheap one will surfice, but should you intend to change straps more frequently I would recommend investing in a better quality tool. I use a bergeon spring bar tool (model number 6767F) which has a “fork” on one end and a “pin end” on the other. The pin end can be used for watches with drilled lugs and the fork end for watches without. The nice thing about the more expensive tools is that the tips can be replaced should they ever get broken.
To demonstrate the strap change I am using my 1966 Breitling Navitimer 806. It does not have drilled lugs and so we use the fork end of the Bergeon spring bar tool.
I like to do the strap change on a pad of paper or on a micro fibre cloth. That way the watch will not get scratched on any hard surfaces and should I drop a spring bar is will be less likely to bounce off the table and into the carpet never to be seen again. It can be a good idea to use a little masking tape on the lugs of the watch to protect them from being scratched if you should slip with your spring bar tool (I didn’t bother for this instruction).
To remove the old strap insert the fork end of the spring bar tool between the strap and the lug and locate the shoulder of the spring bar. The shoulder can then be pushed carefully back effectively shortening the length of the spring bar slightly and allowing the strap to be released from the lugs of the watch. Once you have done one side of the strap repeat the process on the other side.
The spring bars should be removed from the old strap and inspected for damage. If the spring bars look worn or bent at all they should be replaced. Spring bars are very cheap and changing worn ones may prevent spring bar failure and the risk of your beloved watch falling from your wrist on to a concrete pavement and smashing into a million pieces. So well worth making sure that they are in good order. The spring bars, or new ones, can then be inserted in to the new strap and pushed through so that they are centrally located.
At this point I like to get a micro fibre cloth and clean the watch head of any dirt. Particularly in between the lugs. This is a good habit to get into.
The new strap is installed by locating one end of the spring bar in one of the holes of the lugs and then using the fork of the spring bar tool to again push the shoulder at the other end of the spring bar to shorten the length of the spring bar so that it will fit between the lugs of the watch. At this point you can move the end of the strap that attaches to the watch until you feel the spring bar locate in the hole in the lug. You can often hear the click as it clicks into place. I always make sure that it is properly secured as failure to locate the spring bar properly will again result in your watch falling from your wrist onto the road and being run over by a bus. This is best avoided.
Repeat the process for the other side of the strap and you are done. It is worth noting also that the side of the strap that has the buckle on it goes at 12 o’clock and the end with the buckle holes goes at 6 o’clock.
Watch the video here: