Article By: Logan Hannen

What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to take a look at a question I know I asked quite a lot when I first started out: how do I replace my watch band?

Now, let’s just clear something up right out of the gate, in case anyone was wondering: no, you don’t need your strap or bracelet to be this decrepit old thing with stains and scrapes and gashes all over it to justify replacing it. Just ask the Paneristi, the devoted fandom of Panerai. For these guys, strap changing isn’t just an option; it’s practically a requirement!

Changing your strap or bracelet is the easiest way to change the entire look of the watch, whether that involves slapping a rubber strap on it to go swimming or do some hardcore sports, or a leather strap on it to dress the thing up for a night on the town. Whichever the case may be, changing your strap is almost a rite of passage for the newest watchgeeks, as if they get a merit badge for doing so. Spoiler alert: you don’t, but how cool would that be?

There are two main ways to change your strap, but both of them involve the spring bars. A spring bar is the small metal bar that slides into the hole at the top of the strap and connects the strap to the watch. It’s called a spring bar because, as you may have guessed, these little metal thorns-in-your-side are spring loaded to allow them to contract and then expand to create the structure needed to keep the watch strap securely in place.

A Rolex Datejust on a Theo&Harris X Jean-Rousseau strap, one side on each spring bar. Source: Theo&Harris

You’ve got two main kinds of systems to affix the strap to the watch. On the one hand, you have traditional spring bars. To remove a strap with these, you’re going to need a spring bar removal tool, or a screwdriver and a really steady hand. There are videos on YouTube that go through this in far greater detail than I ever could in writing, so just give it a quick search and you should get a pretty solid walk-through. Here’s a helpful example.

On the other hand, you have so-called “quick release” straps. With these kinds of straps, you have a spring bar system, just as you would on a traditional strap, only now you have a small pin sticking out the back of the strap that allows you to pull it and unsecure the spring bars without the need for a tool. These are just as common in smartwatches like the Gear S3 as they are in Patek Philippes, and they’re honestly probably my personal favorite.

Barton strap featuring a quick-release spring bar mechanism. Source: Barton Watch Bands

So, that about does it for us and our brief look at how to change your watch strap. Hopefully this post gets the ball rolling in your understanding of how to quickly make your watch look brand new. And while you’re here, why not check out Christian’s walk-through of the incredible straps, custom made by Jean Rousseau for T&H. Anyway, thanks for reading, and until next time, keep it classy, watchfam.