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Primer: How To Remove Watch Links

One size doesn’t fit all. In the world of watches, this is an unfortunate truth. Granted, most brands do a fine job of estimating averages for their all-metal watches, there are those that simply come several sizes too large for our applicable taste. It’s a reality we’ve all faced at one point or another in our lives, whereas the solution almost always entails a trip to the jeweler to get the thing resized.

That doesn’t have to be the only solution, for with a little patience and finesse, removing your watch links can be an entry-level course in tinkering with your elite timepiece. All you really need is a modest set of tools, some steady hands, and a well-lit/noise-friendly environment (there will be some hammering involved). Aside from that, the entire process should take no longer than about 20 minutes and cost you a fraction of what a trip to the jeweler will cost. Here’s how it’s done.

How To Remove

6 Simple Steps

Prior to getting started, let’s dive into a little watch composition 101 and suggest some tools to help you get the job done well. As for the watch bracelet, it’s safe to assume everything is held together by the industry-standard cotter pin system — consisting of metal pins in a small hole that hold the links together. Additionally, this system also hosts what are known as “ferrules” that hold the pins in place at each end of the link. From here, what you’ll need to do is remove the corresponding pins and ferrules from the links you wish to remove from the bracelet. And to accomplish that feat, we’ve outlined some tools you’ll need for the job followed by the 6-step process below.

What You’ll Need
A pin-push tool. Small ball-peen hammer. Watch bracelet holder. Needle-nose pliers. A calm environment.

There are also preassembled kits available out there that’ll work with just about any watch on the market.

  1. Assess Your Needs: Before getting started, determine how many links need to be removed. Once you have a number, take a look underneath the strap to see which way each pin needs to come out — marked by tiny arrows on one side of the strap.

  2. Situate Your Workstation: This is where you’re going to want to make sure your workstation is clean, flat, and organized. Also, now is when you’re going to want to use a soft surface or a mat to protect both the watch and the tabletop from scratches.

  3. Locate Your Tools: Whether you’re running with a preassembled kit or utilizing your own tools, make sure everything is in place to get started. Meaning, go ahead and mount the watch strap appropriately in your at-home mount or the watch band holder in the kit.

  4. Knock Out Your Pins: Now comes the fun part. After locating the pins in the links that need to be removed, take your pin-pusher tool and place it on top of the pin. Next, take your ball-peen hammer and moderately tap the pusher until the pin pops through.

  5. Remove the Links: After the pins have popped through, take your needle-nose pliers and gently remove the pins from the link if they haven’t already exited the band. Next, remove the watch band from the holder and remove the necessary links from the band.

  6. Reassemble The Watch Band: Keeping all the pins (and ferrules) from the previous steps on hand, it’s now time to reassemble the band. To do this, place the watch band back in the holder (now with the arrows facing up) and lightly hammer the pins into the band the opposite way they came out.

Our Pick: Omega Seamaster 300

Originally released back in 1957, the Seamaster 300 has since become an iconic staple of menswear over the past half-century. This watch, in particular, acts as a re-release from Omega and now comes equipped with a blue enamel dial with 18K white gold hands, a polished ceramic bezel ring with an 850-grade platinum Liquidmetal diving scale, a polished 950 platinum clase, and an anti-magnetic Omega Master Co-Axial Calibre 8401 movement.

Learn More: Here


Keeping That Perfect Fit

And that about does it. Even though the initial task may appear daunting at first, with a little patience (and maybe some practice on an old “beater” watch) you’ll soon perfect the tinkering art of removing watch links from an oversized piece. And why, you may ask, is this even necessary? That’s because some of the finest watches come from used online market places, auctions, or just good old hunting and gathering at estate sales and the like. Is each vintage find going to fit you perfectly? Of course not. But at least with this skill set in mind, you’ll have the capacity to adjust each newfound timepiece to your own liking, under your own roof, and with your own tools. Now, the next order of business is maintenance. Keeping everything wound, powered, and clean. Your wristwatch will only perform in accordance with the respect and care it’s given so be sure not to skimp on mitigating any potential problems from arising due to neglect. With these tasteful merits, even the most delicate heirloom timepiece will last for years and even generations to come.

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Ready to step it up a notch? Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to buy your first Rolex watch. Because nothing out there can beat a classic.