There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all smartwatch. If your wrists are on the smaller size, then you may find that your new smartwatch is dangling from your wrist and sliding up your forearm. No need to worry — it’s a common problem. Chances are there are at least one too many chain links on the strap, but adjusting a metal-link smartwatch band isn’t as difficult as you might think — and doesn’t usually require a trip to the jewelers.
We’ll take you through everything you need to know and the tools you’ll need handy to remove links from your smartwatch so it fits snugly on your wrist.
This is important. You can’t adjust the strap with a hairpin and the hammer you used to hang that picture. However, you also don’t need to buy equipment that costs more than the watch. For our demo here, we are using the SRXWO Watch Band Link Remover, purchased from Amazon U.K. for 7 British pounds. Oddly, it’s not in the U.S. Amazon store, but there are many other options. This is $7. Make sure you pick up a kit that includes a watchband holder, as this will make the job much easier.
Inside the box will be a selection of pin punches, a little hammer, and a watch tool for securing the band. There are other band-adjustment options available with a winder attached to the tool instead of using a little hammer. While these look easier to use, they can be more complicated to line up during the pin-removal process, and the pins are easier to lose straight after removal. Either system will do the job, but we’ll focus on the hammer-and-pin tool system here.
The only other tool you may need is a pair of needle-nose pliers. This isn’t essential, but sometimes the pins have a habit of getting stuck, and you’ll need a strong grip to get them out. You should also consider using a receptacle of some kind to store the links and pins you extract from the watch to ensure you don’t misplace them.
You’ll need good lighting and a smooth table or countertop. You need a flat surface and lots of light. Don’t do it in the middle of the night or anywhere people want quiet because hammering the pins out is a surprisingly noisy process. Make sure you’ve got plenty of time, as by rushing, you run the risk of damaging the pins, links, or the watch itself. After all, you’re trying to save the expense of taking it to a professional.
Adjusting the strap is simple in just a few steps:
Step 1: Put the watch on and assess how many links need to be removed before it fits properly. With the clasp done up, pinch it at the side and see how many links gather together. This gives you an idea of whether two, four, or six links need to come out.
Step 2: Remove the watch and look at the underneath of the strap. You should see tiny arrows on one side. The direction they point in is the way the pins securing each link need to come out. Generally, the pins go back in the opposite direction when replacing them.
Step 3: Grab your watch tool kit and select a pin punch and the small hammer. Fit the watch strap in the watch tool. The arrows should face down, with the pin to be removed over one of the small holes in the tool’s base. This allows the pin to drop down into the tool but not roll away, never to be seen again.
Step 4: Let’s assume you’re taking out four links in total — two from either side of the clasp. Locate the pin next to the clasp, and place the pin punch on the top. With the hammer, tap the punch with the hammer until the pin pops through. This takes a little force, but don’t go at it like you’re Thor holding Mjölnir.
Step 5: Remove the watch band from the tool and extract the pin. This is where the needle-nose pliers may be needed to finally extract the pin from the strap. The watch strap will now be in two, and you need to repeat the process with the pin securing the required number of links to the rest of the strap. When you’re done, you should have two removed links and a still-separated strap. Keep the pins safe, you’re going to need them.
Step 6: Most pins that secure watch straps are relatively similar, but there are a few differences from one to another. In our demo, we adjusted the strap on the Emporio Armani Connected smartwatch. It uses split pins, which if mistreated, will bend and may get stuck in the strap. If you are adjusting the metal band on a Casio watch, the pins will have little metal ferrule. They are small and easy to lose. That said, make sure you remember to put them back in when refitting the pins. If you fail to do this, there is a risk of the pin falling out later on. The main takeaway is to pay attention when removing the pins on your watch strap and be prepared for the unexpected. It is worth taking the time to examine the strap before you get started, too. Some watches, such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, have small indentations on each link that you can press to remove links. No tools are necessary.
Step 7: Now it’s time to attach the strap back to the clasp. Put the watch band back in the tool, but this time with the arrows facing up. The pins need to go in the opposite way from which they came out. Put the pin in the hole. It should go partially in without a fight but require some hammering to fit all the way. Take your time with this process.
Step 8: The strap should now be one piece again. We’d suggest trying the watch on at this point to make sure you didn’t misjudge how many links you needed to take off. If the band is still a bit big for your wrist, repeat steps two to seven on the other side of the clasp. When you complete that, your new watch should have a strap that fits your wrist.
Congratulations, you’ve now learned how to alter your watch strap by yourself, and now you’re equipped with the ability and equipment to do it whenever you need to later on.