Jewelry Care & Maintenance

How to Remove Watch Links

By Dustin Lemick
September 14th, 2021

Having the perfect fit on your watch is crucial, not only for your comfort and to ensure your timepiece looks its best, but also for safety; if your watch band is too large, it is in danger of slipping off your wrist, and you are much more likely to knock the dial.

Although many watches have a sizing function, allowing you to tighten or extend the bracelet, some people require further adjustments to find the perfect fit. That’s when watch link removal becomes necessary. Discover how to remove watch links and start wearing your favorite timepieces with confidence.

Determine the Number of Links You Need to Remove

Before starting the watch link removal process, you must determine the number of links to remove by measuring the watch against your wrist. If you have another watch that fits well, you can compare the bracelet lengths to find the correct number of links. Alternatively, you can place the watch on your wrist in the position you like to wear it, collect the excess, and count the number of spare links.

Avoid removing all the links from one side of a watch’s bracelet because this will alter the positive of the clasp. Instead, take an even number of links from each side of the clasp. For this reason, you should try to remove an even number of links. However, if in doubt, remove one less link; it’s much simpler to remove more links later than add them back.

preparation for watch link removal using a soft hammer, pin pusher, and spring-bar removal

Tools Need For Watch Link Removal

Do not remove watch links before you have all the necessary tools; this can easily lead to damaged or lost pieces. You can purchase a complete watch band link remover kit or buy the individual tools including:

  • A long-nosed pliers
  • A soft hammer
  • A pin pusher or spring-bar removal tool
  • A screwdriver

It is a good idea to use a tray and a white cloth for the watch parts and to work at a clean and clear workbench or tabletop so that no parts get misplaced. Like untangling jewelry, removing watch links is a fiddly job that requires space and patience.

close-up of links of a Rolex watch

Types of Watch Bracelets and Pins

There is a wide range of watch bracelet styles. Depending on the bracelet style, a different pin, and therefore a different removal method is used.

Among luxury watches, some of the most popular bracelet styles are the Oyster, the Jubilee, the Ladder, and the Royal Oak Bracelet. The main pin types are straight pins, U-pins, and L-pins.

Removing Straight Pins

Straight pins are by far the most common. There are several methods to remove them. The simplest method is to use a pin pusher:

  1. Turn your watch over and find the small arrows on the links; these indicate the direction to push the pins out.
  2. Put the watch on the tray with the arrows pointing down.
  3. Place the pin pusher into the aperture and push until the pin extends from the other side. You may need to tap the end of the pusher with the hammer to force enough of the pin out to grip with the pliers.
  4. Use pliers to gently remove the pin.
  5. Repeat with all the links you need to remove.

Protect Your Timepieces

Resizing your watch is much easier than you might think, as long as you have the right tools. However, if you are nervous about altering your favorite timepiece yourself, take it to a professional; investing money to ensure your luxury timepieces are not damaged can help the watch retain its value.

Another way you can protect your timepieces and other luxury jewelry is to get them insured. If you’ve struggled with generic homeowners or renters’ policies not fully covering your pieces in the past, you will be happy to discover BriteCo™: the jewelry insurance company of the 21st century that helps you protect your investment. Begin protecting your watch today with a FREE jewelry insurance quote.

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About the Author

Dustin Lemick is the Founder and CEO of BriteCo and a third-generation jeweler with over thirteen years of retail jewelry experience. He holds a Graduate Gemologist degree from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has in-depth knowledge and expertise in appraisal systems, diamond and gemstone markets, retail pricing models, insurance replacement models, and jewelry quotation pricing systems.
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