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How To Change Your Watch Strap or Bracelet – Step by Step Tutorial


Maximizing Your Style By Changing Your Watch Bracelet

When it comes to luxury watches, changing your watch strap and being able to accessorize your watch to give it a variety of looks can come in very handy for watch wearers. Attaching a different strap in place of a watch’s original bracelet or strap can give it a whole new look and personality entirely. Learning how to properly change a strap on your own can therefore prove to be a very useful skill to have, ultimately saving you both time and money – not only by sparing you a trip to a local jeweler or watch shop to have your strap changed, but also by letting you get away with accessorizing one or two of your most versatile go-to timepieces with several watch straps from brands like Horus Straps to completely reinvent their look as many times and in as many different styles as you’d like. With the proper tools, patience, and practice, changing your watch strap is a really fun and easy process once you get the hang of it. Below, you’ll find our most simplified step-by-step breakdown of this very process.

What You Will Need

The following things are needed to make this process as smooth and easy as possible:

-A spring bar tool

-A clean and open surface to work on

-A towel to lay on the surface; To protect the watch, and to keep parts and tools from rolling away

-Patience and plenty of time; You don’t want to rush this process, especially for your first time

Pro tip: We recommend you always work from the back/under side of your watch. This way, if you accidentally slip with your tool or spring bar, any scratches to the watch won’t be visible.

Removing A Metal Bracelet From Your Watch

Of course the first logical step will be to remove the original bracelet or strap of the watch in order to replace it with another. Since most watches come with a standard bracelet, let’s start with how to remove a metal bracelet.

Step 1:

Turn the watch over to view its underside. Locate the two recesses (one on each side) – where the bracelet meets the watch case. Using the spring bar tool, insert the forked end into one recess until your tool meets the spring bar ridge. Apply pressure towards the bracelet (away from the watch case) to compress the spring bar. Repeat this same step for the recess on the other side.

Spring bar tool and watch

Step 2:

Once the spring bar is compressed, remove the end-link of the bracelet by gently maneuvering it out of the watch lug. This step may take a couple tries, as the end-links tend to be pretty snug in the lugs. Make sure that the spring bar is compressed on both ends and that neither end snaps back into the hole. You have now removed one side of the bracelet.

Step 3:

Repeat Steps 1 & 2 on the other side of the bracelet. Once you’re done, you have now successfully removed the bracelet from the watch.

Rolex watch with no bracelet or strap

Removing A Watch Strap (Leather, Rubber, Etc.)

While many watches come with a standard metal bracelet, other watches come originally attached to a strap made of leather, rubber, or other materials. Below are the steps for properly removing the original strap to change out for your new one.

Step 1:

On the underside of the watch, insert the spring bar tool (using the forked end) in between the strap and the watch lug. On the spring bar is a ridge that the tool will grab hold onto, compressing the spring bar.

Step 2:

Use the tool to apply pressure inwards, towards the strap and away from the watch. This should compress the spring bar. Be sure to also apply pressure downwards, allowing the spring bar to pop out. Be gentle and careful when applying pressure to avoid slipping with the tool and potentially scratching the watch.

Step 3:

Repeat steps 1 & 2 on the other side. And that’s it! Be sure to remove the spring bars from the old strap in order to mount on your new strap.

Installing A Nylon NATO Watch Strap

Now that you’ve successfully removed the original bracelet or strap, you can now install your new strap. As there are different types of straps, we’ll start with the ever-popular choice of a  NATO strap. NATO straps were originally developed for military usage by the British Ministry of Defense. They are made of nylon composition and they prevent metal from touching the wearer’s skin while securely holding it in place on the wrist.

Please note: These instructions do not apply to leather NATO straps, which are likely to scratch against the watch case if they are pulled through the spring bars. Please be sure to find proper instructions for installing leather NATO straps to avoid damaging your strap.

Step 1:

Insert one end of the spring bar into the lug hole. Then, use the spring bar tool to compress the other end by grabbing onto the ridge. make sure both ends are secured properly. Then repeat the same step with the other spring bar.

Step 2:

Once the spring bars are securely in place, you can prep the NATO strap for insertion. Pull the longer end of the strap out through the floating keeper to separate the 2 layers. Please note: this step does not apply to single layer or “3 ring” straps.

Step 3:

Start at the top side of the watch (12 o’clock position) and slip in the long end of the strap through the space between the spring bar and the watch case (inserting from the front side of the watch), and pull the strap all the way through.

Putting a NATO strap on a Rolex watch

Step 4:

Continue threading the strap through the space between the spring bar and the bottom of the watch (6 o’clock position), from the back side towards the front of the watch. Pull the strap tight.

Nato strap on Rolex watch

Step 5:
Pull the strap through the second layer keeper. Please note: this step does not apply to single layer or “3-ring” straps.

Nato strap being installed on a Rolex watch

Step 6:

Adjust the watch on the strap to make sure it is centered between both keepers. And that’s it! You have now officially installed your new NATO watch strap.

**Note: To remove a NATO strap, just follow these steps in reverse. If replacing the strap with another NATO strap, there is no need to remove the spring bars again.

Installing A Leather Or Rubber Watch Straps

Installation of a leather or rubber strap is a slightly different step-by-step from installing NATO straps, though just as simple and easy to get. Keep in mind these types of straps do not weave through the spring bars behind the watch case like NATO straps do.

Step 1:

First, install the spring bars into each end of the strap, making sure to center them by pushing them all the way in.

Step 2:

Now you’re ready to install the strap onto the watch. Start by installing the shorter end of the strap (with the buckle), on the top side of the watch (12 o’clock position). From the back side of the watch, insert one end of the spring bar into the hole on the watch lug, making sure the strap is facing the correct direction.

Step 3:

Using the spring bar tool, compress the other end of the spring bar to make it slide into the watch lug hole. Make sure the spring bar is secured into the holes on both ends so the strap is secure and won’t fall off the watch.

Step 4:

Repeat steps 2 & 3 on the other side with the longer end of the strap, on the bottom side of the watch (6 o’clock position). After that, you are all set with your newly installed leather watch strap!


And there you have it! A nice and easy series of step-by-step instructions for removing your watch’s original bracelet or strap to swap it out for another bracelet, rubber strap, leather straps, or NATO strap of your choice. Whether it be due to a broken watch bracelet or strap, worn, or dated, or simply because you want to give your watch a makeover and new look for a special occasion, knowing how to change your watch strap will surely come in handy for the avid watch wearer when it comes that time for a change.

Black and gray NATO strap on Rolex Submariner

**Disclaimer: The instructions provided above for removing and replacing a watch strap are intended for those with little-to-no experience doing so. These instructions cover the basics, but do not cover every type of watch and strap combination. The Watch Standard accepts no responsibility for improper installation that may result in a damaged watch or watch strap, and/or personal harm of any type. If in doubt, we recommend consulting with a local watchmaker or jeweler to properly remove or change your watch strap.

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