In this Instructable, I will show you how to adjust a stretch watch band by removing links. If you have an old watch band to take parts from, a variation of this process may be used to insert links as well. Also if your band is broken, this Instructable will illustrate how to uncover and replace the components that have failed.
Let's get started!
Step 1: What You Will Need and Background
1. The watch which you will working on
2. Safety glasses
3. Precision screwdriver or equivalent prying tool
4. Needle nose pliers
See the photo below for the tools which I used to carry out this project.
For simplicity and to obtain good pictures I removed the band from the watch movement in this Instructable. However this is not necessary, and you may leave the band attached to the movement.
Metal stretch bands are preferred for watches because they make a watch very easy to take on and off. This is made possible by joining leaf spring cartridges together with small staples. When the band is stretched, these small metal staples rotate and press against the leaf spring creating a restoring force that returns the band to its contracted position when you let go. The inner spring cartridges usually rest directly against the skin, and to increase cosmetic appeal, the outer spring cartridges are covered with a stamped piece of metal,and may be plated. Pictures of the cosmetic cover piece (outside of the band) and staple are provided in Step 2 and Step 3 respectively.
Step 2: Getting Started
Now that you know how many links to remove, bend the retaining clips away from two cosmetic covers at the beginning and end of the segment you wish to remove. Since you will need to work from the inner side of the watch band, turn the band inside-out for easy access to the retaining clips.
Pay special attention for any repeating pattern that may keep you from reassembling the band if it is disturbed. For a seamless splice at reassembly, you need the pattern to remain continuous. If the cosmetic covers are tapered or fit together in any special way, you will want to remove a segment that does not include these changes, where each cosmetic cover is a simple repeating pattern. Common to ladies' watches is a teardrop pattern mirrored at the band's midpoint.
The band I used for this Instructable was a simple repeating pattern, and all cosmetic covers were identical, therefore all links were fair game for removal.
Step 3: Exposing the Staples
Bend only the flaps you need to, and bend them as few times as possible. If the metal is bent multiple times, or is bent too far, chances are the tab will break off completely.
See the photo below for help choosing the proper tab to bend. The tabs you bend will determine if an outer spring cartridge or an inner cartridge will remain on the band. You must have an inner cartridge on one free end, and an outer cartridge on the other free end to be able to mate the band together again. It is permissible to use trial and error to determine which tab to bend, but opening the correct tabs in this step will save you time.
I only needed to bend two tabs, but this was because the outer cartridges did not have tabs, and relied on the cosmetic cover to hold the staples in place. If your band is designed with tab closures on all spring cartridges, then you will need to bend double the amount (four).
Step 4: Shear
Final symmetry is important for reassembly. Pay close attention to how this segment comes apart from the band. Remember, you have to splice the band back together! You must have an outer spring cartridge and an inner spring cartridge remaining on your watch band. If you have two outer cartridges, they will butt next to each other and not overlap properly.
If the pieces do not fit back together, reassemble one side, bend the tab closed, and revisit step 3 bending the tab adjacent to the one you did before. See picture below for further details.
Step 5: Reassembly
Step 6: Button Up
Bend the tabs to their original orientation on the inner spring cartridge to once again enclose the staples and secure the watch band. The needle nose pliers work well to squeeze the tabs closed.
Step 7: Final Touch
Step 8: Inspect and Complete
You're Done! You are ready to return the watch to service. Future adjustment can be made by repeating this process. I recommend saving the parts you removed because they are good spares in case you ever need to repair a staple or spring cartridge.
Questions or Comments? Please leave a comment on the Instructable if you found the tutorial useful. Also comment if you feel a step is unclear, or you desire some further explanation. I will respond promptly to help you get going again.
I've been repairing my watch bands for years, because often times the movement outlasts the band. I've also accumulated a collection of spare parts by saving old watch bands. I recommend you do the same because from now on, you will know exactly what to do if your band breaks.