Changing a watch strap is something anyone can do with the right set of tools and a steady hand. Maybe you're looking to change up the aesthetic of your watch by swapping a leather strap for a stainless steel bracelet, or vice versa. Perhaps you want to get a little sporty and add a silicone or rubber strap to your rotation. Maybe you broke your old strap and want to redeem your watch by replacing the watch strap yourself. Whatever your motivation or reasoning, this post will explain and show the proper way to change a watch strap. Whether it has spring bars, quick release, or screw pins, we'll explain how to make the switch without damaging your watch, strap, or ego.

How to Remove a Watch Strap with Spring Bars

If your watch's strap connects to the watch lugs with a bar with two small rings near the ends, you have spring bars. To remove the strap, you'll need a spring bar tool. Most have a pointed end and an end with a small, v-shaped prong on it. The v-shaped prong end is what you'll use to grab the spring bar. Here's how to remove a watch strap with spring bars:

  1. Lay down a soft cloth or mousepad as your work area. This prevents your watch from getting scratched while you work on it.
  2. Place your watch face down on the cloth or pad.
  3. Take the spring bar tool and place the v-shaped prong in the small hole of the spring bar outside of the lug.
  4. Use the tool to depress the bar and release the pin.
  5. Carefully remove the strap.
  6. Repeat these steps on the other side of the watch.

Now that you've successfully removed your spring bar strap, you're now ready to replace it with a new strap.

How to Replace a Watch Strap

Before you replace your watch strap, you need to ensure the new strap is the proper size. You can measure the inside of your watch lugs or existing strap with calipers or a millimeter ruler to determine the appropriate width. Once you're ready with the replacement strap, here's how to install it on your watch.

How to Install a Quick Release Strap

Quick-release straps have a small button on the strap's underside that pulls the spring bar away from the lug, making it easy to swap them in and out. To install a quick release strap, follow these steps:

  1. Align the new strap with the buckle side on top (12 o'clock), long side on bottom (6 o'clock) with the quick release pins facing down so they aren't visible.
  2. Using the quick release pin, depress the spring bar on one side of the strap, while inserting the pin into the hole in the lug on the other.
  3. Slide the depressed side under the lug, and release the pin sliding it around until it clicks into the hole in the lug.
  4. Repeat the same process for the other strap.

Nixon quick release watch band being worn on a wrist

How to Install a Strap with Spring Bars

Installing a watch strap with spring bars (no quick release) is essentially the opposite of removing it. You'll want to have a cloth or pad laid down for your work area for the installation, as well.

  1. Slide your spring bars into the ends of the new strap pieces.
  2. Lay your watch face down on the cloth or pad. Place one end of the top strap's spring bar into one of the watch lug holes.
  3. Use your spring bar tool to depress the other end of the spring bar and move the strap into position in line with the opposing side's lug hole. Slide the spring bar into the lug hole until you hear it snap into place.
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 with the other strap piece.

What About Screw Bars?

Screw bars use, as the name suggests, screws to secure the watch strap to the lugs, whereas spring bars use springs. The good news is replacing screw bar straps is nearly identical to replacing spring bars, except you screw the bars in and out instead of depressing the spring bar. The rest of the steps are the same.

Disclaimer: Nixon's quick-release straps are NOT compatible with screw bars, only spring bars. However, Nixon's NATO straps are compatible with screw bars. Please make sure your replacement strap is screw bar-friendly before proceeding.

Can You Replace a Metal Strap with Leather?

Heck yeah, you can! Metal and leather straps are interchangeable as long as you have the proper width replacement strap. In case you missed it earlier, here's a detailed guide on finding your correct strap width (not to be confused with bandwidth).

Now, take this knowledge and apply it to your own watches. You’re well on your way to being able to replace your watch straps and straps like a pro. Happy swapping!

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