Watch Repairs

Watch Care: Common Problems With Bracelet Links

Thought I would offer some tips on bracelets and the typical problems that tend to crop up, let’s start with sizing issues, which often means removing/adding a link. On some watches that can be fairly easy to do, especially if the links are identical, not tapered so that the ones near the clasp get gradually narrower.

So you need a special link pin pusher tool, which you can get online for about a tenner. It’s good to have a vice, small hammer and a selection of pin-pusher tools so you can tap out some bracelet pins. Before you start look closely through a magnifying glass at the ends of the pins – are they already slotted for a screwdriver blade at one end? Good, don’t hit the pin!

Then they probably have tiny end caps on, which screw out. Don’t lose them, they are extremely small. They are often pins that only go in one way, wheras a cheaper watch might have pins that tap in from either end.

Some Swiss brands like to put pins inside little sleeves that sit inside the central link section. Almost like roller-bearing crankshafts in cars and motorbike engines. You often see this on two-tone or Jubilee type bracelets. As you remove the pin the insert sleeve will drop out – be ready to catch it on your bench or table. These are very difficult to get back in properly but you must fit them, or the pin will fall out when the watch is worn.

Many watches have little arrows next to the four-eight link pins that come out, indicating that they can only be removed in the direction of the arrow. Reverse that rocess when re-fitting the pins. Look closely and you will see one end is slightly bigger than the other and this is why they are a `one way’ fitment.

See the spring-loaded lever on the left, that grips the pin when the clasp is folded over.

Adjusting the clasp on watch bracelets can also demand a delicate touch. One type of clasp that goives trouble is the type where a male end pin presses into a hole, and there is a spring loaded actuator mechanism, normally two tiny wings on the clasp, which act as a release.

Dirt can get inside and jam the lever that should grab the pin. Try watch movement cleaner, or a wash in warm water to get the dirt out. Be wary of using too much force in trying the get the gripping lever to slide across, it will need careful manipulation – very easy to damage it.

Some gents watches have a clasp that folds across, then a band goes over. Often the sides of this clasp have two or three holes where the end link can be moved along, thus making the bracelet a fraction smaller. Good in winter when your wrist will be samller in cold weather. You have to prise out one end of the pin in the end link, move it along the clasp to the next hole, then do the same at the other end. Be careful the pin doesn’t ping out as they are spring-loaded. A tiny screwdiver or pin pusher will help put pressure on the end of the pin, or a cocktail stick maybe.

Hope these tips help you, always take your time and buy decent tools.

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