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Changing Bands

Very often, I hear from owners who would like to change the band on his/her watch. Sometimes it is a relatively easy job. However, some bands need to be changed by the professional. Leather bands and cloth one-piece bands like the one below can often be easily changed by the owner.

Metal bands can be a nightmare. They must be sized to fit, and they are often hard to remove AND hard to fit to size without the proper tools. Every now and then I slip and cut myself trying to remove or fit a metal band. So, if seeing your own blood is not your bag, leave it to your jeweler or watchmaker.

Band removal - Some bands are part of the case and cannot be removed, so examine your band to see if it is part of the case. Most removable bands are held to the watch case with telescoping bars that are spring loaded. I call them spring bars. They fit through a through hole in each end of the band. These bars are hollow, and are made of either stainless steel or plated brass. They come in many sizes, widths, thicknesses, and some are even curved. Some are heavy duty, for example Rolex Oyster (tm) and diver's watches generally have hefty spring bars. Inside the spring bar is a "spring." The expanded spring bar must be larger that the distance between the lugs of the watch. The lugs of the watch (the part of the watch that the band attaches) are drilled with a hole. The ends of the bar can be pushed in to make it snap into the holes. Once in, it can be difficult to get out. If the lugs are drilled all the way through, then you are in lick. For then, all you have to do is insert a small tool (such as a paper clip end) into the outside end of the lugs to compress the spring bar and hence remove it. Generally, a watchmaker's case knife

with a small blade (1-in long is fine) (not a real sharp one) can be slipped between the band and the lug and pushed away from the lug to catch the spring end of the bar. There are special band tools that are sold for removing spring bars. The tool has a screwdriver blade with a notch cut into it to fit over the spring bar on one end, and a thin cylinder on the other end to push out spring bars for watch cases with lugs drilled all the way through. However, I use the knife as I have better luck with it for leather bands. When it comes to metal bands with a slot in the back, I just use an old screwdriver of the proper size to fit into the slot. But be caseful or you will cut yourself if you slip.

Cutting out spring bar - If the spring bar is fitted with both ends fully inside the hole, then you must cut out the spring bar. I use the knife to push back the leather band, and then employ a cutting pliars (cutter at end) to clip the spring bar. If the leather band is to be thrown away, just cut the band off entirely and then cut the spring bar in the center. It is easy to cut the spring bar in the center as it is hollow. However, the ends that are spring loaded are solid. Be careful not to cut into the case.

Unless the old spring bars look perfect, use new spring bars when you change the band. Spring bars are cheap. Even nice stainless spring bars for expensive watches are only a dollar or so each.

Changing Batteries (coming soon)

Removing scratches from the watch case and band (coming soon)

Removing scratches from glass crystals (coming soon!)