How to Remove Links from a Watch: A Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever been gifted a watch that was just a bit too big or loose on you? Or do you have an oversized watch bracelet at home and you simply do not have time to go to a repair shop to get it altered?

If your answer is yes to either of those questions, this article is just the one for you. Learning how to remove links from a watch in order to resize its bracelet can seem like a daunting task, but it is definitely something anyone can do with the right tools and instructions. 

Read on for a quick and easy guide on how to remove links from a watch!

What are Watch Links? 

How to remove links from a watch: Photo of a metal watch on a man's wrist.

To put it simply, watch links are the components that make up a metal watch bracelet. The number of links determine the lengths of the bracelet. This is why it is helpful to know how to remove links from a watch, should you need to adjust its length. There are many different variations on watch links and they mostly differ in design or structure. 

For example, some of the most famous watch bracelets in the market are from Rolex. These include the Rolex Oyster, the Rolex President, and the Rolex Jubilee. The Oyster features a flat, three-piece link structure which is perfect for a versatile and sporty look. 

The President bracelet, on the other hand, shows off semi-circular links with a three-piece structure. It radiates a more formal and elegant vibe. Finally, the Jubilee has a rounded, five-piece link structure that offers both comfort and class. 

Aside from that, there are also other types of metal watch bracelets, such as the mesh bracelet and the expansion strap. 

How to Remove Links from a Watch: Two Different Methods 

Photo of a man repairing a watch.

There is no one, single way to go about removing links from a watch. Instead, there are a couple of different methods that you can follow. We have listed them down below, so you can learn all the ways on how to remove links from a watch. 

For Watches with Standard Metal Bracelets 

  1. The first thing you need to do is to measure the length of your bracelet. This is a crucial step because it will allow you to determine how many links you need to remove from your band. You can do this by wearing your watch as you usually would, but without locking the clasps. Next, turn the watch over and gather the links together to your preferred length. Lastly, you have to take note of how many links you need to remove to get to your desired fit. 
  2. Next, prepare your space and gather the necessary tools. It is best to use an adequately-sized table with a cloth cover as your work station, so avoid any external damage to your watch. Meanwhile, for the tools, you will need: a pin pusher, a small hammer, a screwdriver, pliers, and a tray for the components you will be removing. 
  3. Most bracelets come with arrow markings on them. If you have a watch bracelet holder in your tool kit, use it by aligning the bracelet (with the arrow facing downwards) to the slot in the middle. This will keep your watch steady while you remove the links. 
  4. Now, place the pin pusher on top of the pin of the link you wish to remove. Gently tap against it with the small hammer until the pin can no longer be pushed further. You can then use some pliers or tweezers to remove the detached pin from the link. Repeat this step for all the other links you wish to remove. 
  5. After all that is done, you will need to reattach the ends of the bracelet. You can do this by first putting your bracelet on the holder with the arrows facing upwards. Then gently hammer the pins to the links until it is locked and secured. 

For Watches with Expansion Bands

  1. If your watch has an expansion band (the one that looks like bars), then there are some steps you have to do differently. However, you must follow the first two steps from the guide above. This includes measuring how many links you wish to remove, preparing your work station, and getting the necessary tools. For expansion bracelets, you would also need a spring bar tool and some pliers or tweezers. 
  2. Place your unclasped watch on top of a soft cloth with the case back facing upwards. Then, with your fingers holding the band apart, use the spring bar tool to open and push the tabs downwards. Repeat this step on the other side of the tab. 
  3. Grab your pliers or tweezers and use them to remove the curved pins between the links on both ends of the tab. Repeat steps 2 and 3 again until you reach your desired band length. 
  4. Lastly, reattach the bracelet by inserting the curved pins back into the links using pliers/tweezers. Then, with the spring bar tool, push the tabs back to their proper position. 

Final Thoughts 

There is no denying that going to an actual professional remains the safest option when it comes to getting your watch altered. However, you do also always have the choice to do it on your own. Learning how to remove links from a watch is simple enough, especially if you trust in your capabilities and know how to follow the instructions. And if you ever want to get the length of your watch bracelet modified again, you can always come back to this guide for help!

Photo Credits: Pexels

Interested in reading more watch guides? Check out this piece on How To Open An Elgin Pocket Watch

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