Watches today come in so many different styles, from elegant classy dress watches to go with a suit to sport watches designed to go caving or diving. Every watch has its own unique design, look and purpose and therefore, watch makers attempt to create the perfect strap for their watches. Each strap is different, and has different advantages and disadvantages, looks and feels to them, however, almost all watches can have their strap changed. Some watches even come with two or even three different straps with them to give you the flexibility and choice to swap them out depending on what you are doing or what look you would like your watch to have.

Removing a metal bracelet

With there being so many different independent strap manufacturing companies, it can now be very tempting to change your current strap for a new one to change up the look of your watch. Most people will buy a watch and keep it on the original strap or bracelet it came on but we want to make sure you know how to change a strap so you can choose how you wear your watch. Today, we are going to look at the different ways you can change your strap and what types of straps can you change them for.

Metal straps have been around since watchmakers started making watches and typically they are the more expensive option. They can come in a variety of different metals though, steel is probably the most common but then you can have gold (rose, yellow and white), titanium and even platinum. Of course each of those metals will not only look different but feel different, especially in terms of weight!

Metal bracelets are often the easiest to put on, once you have sized the bracelet to your wrist, it’s just a case of sliding the watch on and closing the clasp and as quick as that you’re ready to go. However that can also be a downside, you need to have links taken in and out which can take time and require skill, and even once it’s sized you may need to change it depending on the temperature as your wrist heats and cools causing it to expand or shrink. 

Rolex Straps


Rolex Submariner

Source : Xupes

Certain bracelets have clasps that allow you to make these adjustments quickly like a Rolex Submariner, however if you had a Patek Philippe 5711, you’d have a bit of a problem! So changing your bracelet for a rubber or leather strap can be quite attractive especially in Summer time when your wrist contacts in a cool air conditioned building and then expands when you walk out into warmer weather.

Metal can give a casual, sporty or even dressy look not to mention it’s quite durable. Of course being durable will also depend on the type of metal, for example yellow gold will scratch a lot easier than steel, so when you change your strap, if it’s a yellow gold bracelet you want to take extra care. If we take a look at a Rolex Submariner, an iconic watch known to come on an oyster bracelet with the extremely useful glidelock system in the clasp to help make fine adjustments to the bracelet size quickly. 

However, if you wanted to change it out for another strap like leather or  rubber for example, you first need to remove the steel bracelet from the watch. The first thing to do is to turn the watch over and set it down on a soft material on top of a table so you don’t scratch the crystal. 

The disassembly steps

Then, use electrical tape to cover up the lugs so that when the spring bars come out, they don’t scratch the lugs. You don’t need to do this if scratching your watch doesn't bother you, but if you like to keep your watch in the best condition you can then we recommend doing this to avoid accidental scratches, especially if your watch is made from precious metal! Once you've covered up your lugs you can now use one of two tools to remove the bracelet, the first is with a spring bar tool. 

This is probably the most popular and certainly cheaper  way out of the two, you slide eit in and use the fork end to push the spring bars inwards and then use your other finger to gently push up on the bracelet. Then swap over to do the same on the other side and voila! Repeat this process on the other side as well, regardless of whether your strap is metal, leather or rubber, this process is the same.





The second way is to use a tweezer style spring bar tool, whilst costing more, it avoids getting your watch scratched up because unlike the first tool, it pushes in both ends of the spring bar at once. All you have to do is simply line up both  forks at each end of the spring bar, squeeze and pull  up and that should remove your bracelet in one clean action. Not only is it quicker but you also have more control which helps avoid the spring bar accidentally springing across the room or scratching your watch lugs. 

This process will be the same for rubber, leather and even nato straps as well. Once you have removed the bracelet, take out the spring bars from the end of the links and then you can put them through the holes in your rubber, leather or nato strap. However, if the spring bars that came with your bracket are too wide or thin, you may need to buy a new set of spring bars to make sure the new strap fits perfectly, don’t worry, they aren’t expensive or hard to find!

Once you have got your spring bars fitted into your leather or rubber strap, you now reverse the process. With the spring bar tool, push one end in first and then compress the other end and gently push it in until you feel and hear a small click. That way you can be sure your new strap is securely attached to your watch. 

With the tweezer style spring bar tool, simply compress both ends of the spring bar and carefully slop the strap in place, then move it around slowly until you hand and feel a click like with the spring bar tool. Once you have done this for both straps, you’re good to go! One quick tip, before putting your new strap on, make sure it is the right way round on the watch to avoid having to take it off and put it back on the right way round.

Changing strap

Source : Xupes


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Alternative methods

Another way to change your strap can be done with no tools at all. This is because the spring bar that holds the strap or bracelet to your watch case is fitted with a ‘quick release’ function. All you have to do is pull down on the small  lever and the strap will come out. One classic example of this is with the famous watchmaker from the holy trinity, Vacheron Cosantain. If we take a look at their dual time zone overseas model, they include a bracelet and rubber strap with tye watch with both of them featuring a quick release spring bar. This means you can change from your metal bracelet to your rubber strap to your leather strap within a few seconds! This is great for those you like to change their straps on their watches often and for those who find using spring bar tools a bit tricky. Of course you do not have to spend upwards of 20,000 US dollars on a  watch to get such features, there are many other brands who use this system on their bracelets and straps too!

Vacheron Cosantain

Source : The Watch club

You can buy the quick release spring bars cheaply as well, however, with the small lever on it, you should first check whether your strap can accommodate it or not. Rubber straps tend to fit these more commonly than metal straps due to the nature of the end link on a bracelet being made to fit a normal spring bar. Rubber straps tend to have only a slightly shorter covering at the back to reveal more of the spring bar, this is because you can then use curved spring bars to help fit the strap even better. Hence it can often fit a quick release spring bar as well so the lever can be exposed.

Natoo strap

Source : Mamic

One additional way to do this is to take your watch to your AD or a local watchmaker/ shop and get them to change it for you, this is great if you really don’t trust yourself to do it or have the tools (yet). You don’t need to worry what type of strap you're changing to and from as the watchmakers at AD and even assistants are usually all quite experienced at both adjusting and changing straps. However, they may charge you to do it and it is quicker to change it from your home since you won’t need to travel to a watchmaker every time you want to change your strap.

The easiest of all straps to change is from one nato strap to another. Nato straps are probably one of the most secure and easy straps to use as each spring bar is connected to a separate loop going around your wrist. Hence if one spring bar breaks, whilst your watch will be flapping around, it will still be connected by the other spring bar unlike a normal strap or bracelet.

Once you have got the watch with just the spring bars attached, all you have to do is simply slide the strap over the top of one spring bar, pass it underathe the case and over the top of the other spring bar. It’s that simple. To change them, reverse the process and then do it again to attach the new one. 

In some cases, you may only be able to change out your nato strap for another because instead of spring bars, there are solid metal bars that are made into the case. The Tudor Marine Nationale is a fanatics example of this, due to its design for military use, solid bars make it more durable. When it comes to changing your strap for this watch with the same design, it's easy, you just thread through the strap and that's all there is to it.

Tudor watch

Source : Mamic

And there you have it, if you’re looking to change out your watch strap from one style to another, you can use a simple spring bar tool, a tweezer style spring bar tool or even no tool if it has a quick release function! Of course some specific watches can only take nato straps so no issue there and if you’re not feeling up for the task or simply don’t want to do it yourself, just head out to your AD or local watchmaker and they should be able to help you out. Now that you know the different methods to change your watch strap, you may be more tempted to. If you like the lightweight yet durable sporty look and feel of rubber then you’re in the right place! Here at ZEALANDE we can offer you a variety of different swiss manufacturer rubber straps designed for many different watch brands and models. You can select different colours for different looks and once fitted you can size it perfectly to your wrist.

Zealande rubber strap

Source : WatchesbySJX