Change your watch strap in 4 simple steps

When we founded The Thrifty Gentleman, we did so with the intention to bring watch strap accessories to the mainstream. We had seen a big demand for watch straps from the watch community, but very rarely from fashion conscious individuals who were maybe put off by the perception that changing a watch strap was much more complicated than it is!


We had heard comments such as "If I want to change my watch strap, I'd have to go to the jewellers" - this is the perception we're trying to change and in this article, we want to give you all the information you need to be able to change your watch strap safely, efficiently and most important, easily.


Step 1- What do I need to get started?


The beauty of changing a watch strap is you don't really need a huge amount of equipment at all! For the purposes of today's tutorial, we will be explaining how to remove and replace a "standard" 2 piece watch strap.


What you will need to change your watch strap is the following:


  1. A soft surface - you may need to lay your watch down on its face so you will need to protect it from surfaces that could scratch your watch face.

  2. Your watch and replacement strap

  3. Spring bar tool - only needed if you are replacing a strap with removable spring bars. This is not needed if the strap you are removing and the strap you are installing both have quick release pins. We will explain more about this later in the article.

  4. Spring bars - if you need them for your new strap (likely if the strap being replaced has quick release spring bars, but the new strap doesn't).


Step 2 - Time to remove your Watch Strap


Part 1 - Removing your watch strap if it has quick release spring bars


If your watch strap has quick release spring bars, the process of removing the strap from your watch will be extremely easy. On the underside of the strap, at the ends of the strap closest to the watch lugs will be the quick release tabs. If you pull the lever inwards, it will release the spring bar and you can carefully slide the watch strap from your watch. And it's as simple as that; repeat for the other strap and you will have successfully removed your strap.


Part 2 - Removing your watch strap if your watch has drilled lugs



Some watches have the benefits of drilled lugs. If you watch has these, it means that you can remove your strap

from the outside of the watch case. You will need a narrow sharp object or the non-forked end of your spring bar tool to release the spring bars from your watch. Simply push the spring bar tool (or alternative) into the drilled lugs and when the spring bar has been shortened, slide the strap from your watch.


Part 3 - Removing your watch strap if it is connected to your watch by removable spring bars


A watch strap without quick release spring bars or drilled lugs can seem quite daunting at first however the reality is after you have removed a strap with a spring bar tool for the first time, you'll be wondering why you hadn't ever done it up to that point before! Once you can remove your strap with a spring bar tool you are completely open to installing whatever strap you fancy in the future - a game changer!


In order to remove a watch strap with a spring bar tool, you need to first locate the groove of your spring bar (please see pictures above) and position the forked end of your spring bar tool around the groove. Carefully apply pressure and pull inwards towards the centre of the spring bar which will compress the spring bar. Whilst you are still applying pressure, gently move the strap (and spring bar) away from your watch. You have now successfully removed it! Good job!


If you don't already have a spring bar tool, you can buy one here for only £3.49.


Step 3 - Check your replacement watch strap is the correct size


Measuring the lug width of your watch is a very simple process and although it can be done extremely accurately with a set of digital calipers, you can also use a ruler which, for this purpose, is equally effective.


Simply measure the distance between the 2 lugs of your watch. This is the width you want for your replacement watch strap.


If, for whatever reason, you are unable to measure the lug width yourself, a lot of information about watches can be found online and it is likely that for most watches you can also find the lug width of your watch online or in the documents that came with your watch.


Step 4 - Install your new watch strap to your watch


Part 1 - Installing your watch strap if it has quick release spring bars


Just as simple as it is to remove a strap with quick release springs it is just as easy to attach your new strap too. Slot the end of the spring bar furthest away from the spring bar lever into the watch lug. Then pull the lever of the spring bar inwards and gently slot the other end into the other watch lug. Ensure the spring bar clicks into the lug pinhole and gently give the strap a wiggle to check it is securely in the watch lug holes. Repeat for the other strap and voila, your strap is attached!


Part 2 - Installing your watch strap if it is connected to your watch by removable spring bars


You will now be an expert with a spring bar tool and guess what? Yep, it's time to pick up your watch strap tool again. Ultimately, you have to do in reverse what you did to remove your original strap.


Similarly to when you removed your strap, once your spring bar is inside your watch watch strap, you need to use the forked end of your spring bar tool on the spring bar groove to compress it so that you can install it to your watch. Place one end of the spring bar (whilst attached to your strap) into the lug pinhole and then use your spring bar to compress the other end of the spring bar to gently slide the spring into place .


Once again you should hear/feel a very slight click as the spring bar finds its way into position. Again, it is a good idea to give it a quick wiggle to check it is securely attached.



And that is it! You now know how to remove and replace most common 2 piece watch straps. For single piece straps, please see links below for additional tutorials tailored to those specific watch straps.


Installing a NATO strap

Installing a Marine Nationale strap


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