Sizing the Bracelet The Leather Band

September 1998

Timepieces:Education & Repair

Sizing the Bracelet The Leather Band

Earn a return customer by efficiently resizing or replacing a watch strap

By David Christianson,
Certified Master Watchmaker & President,
American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute

Fitting or replacing a watch band or bracelet is one service most jewelry store customers consider a given. If you can't do it as customers wait or within a reasonable period, they'll go elsewhere, potentially taking all future business with them.

We covered mesh bands last month (see Professional Jeweler,August 1998, p. 88); now we move on to leather.

Width & Case Attachment
Leather bands are sold in a variety of end widths designated in inches or millimeters. Leather is flexible enough to interchange inches for millimeters. For example, you can use an 18mm width instead of 3/4 inch. The difference is only 1mm. If the strap is 1mm wider than the lug space, it will still fit fine. Any wider, however, and the strap will bulge in a short time.

The end width of the new strap must fill the entire space between the lugs of the watch case. If it's too short, as noted in our discussion of spring bars last month, the spring bar will bend, crack or pop out.

Some watch cases require leather straps with notched ends or notched corners rather than the more common spring bar between the lugs (see diagrams 1 and 2). To replace these, lay a standard leather strap against the end of the watch case and mark the edges of the notch with a sharp knife incision. Use notching pliers (available at materials suppliers) to cut out the width and depth of the notch. Hide the fresh edges with a matching color felt marker and replace the spring bar or bar ends as required. Get replacements at your supply house.


Straps are designated as short, regular, long and extra long. When a new strap is being fitted, note the owner's old strap size and ask how comfortable it was. Did the wearer have to use the last hole? Did he or she use the first hole and the watch was still loose? Either case may require a new length.

Don't fit a small wrist with a long or extra long strap unless the wearer wants the end of the strap to hang out. Ideally, the fit should allow three or four holes at the strap's end.

If the customer prefers the current strap, punch a hole in one end or the other for a better fit.

Punch the Hole
To make the strap fit more snugly, punch a new hole toward the case. To make it looser, punch the hole toward the free end. Here's how to proceed:

  • Use a staking tool (from your watch or equipment supplier) and a concave punch with an end that fits the diameter of an existing strap hole. With the punch in the staking tool, rotate the table to locate a hole in the table that allows the punch to slip 1mm deep. Line up the punch and the hole and lock down the table.
  • Measure the space between two existing holes and measure that same distance from the last hole to locate the new one. Place the strap in your staking tool and be sure the new hole is centered between the strap edges.
  • Strike the punch firmly with your staking hammer. The plug from the new hole will lodge in the staking table hole or cling to the back of the new hole. It's easily removed with tweezers or a sharp knife.
  • Attach the strap to the case and allow the customer to try it on. You've likely gained a new, and repeat, customer.

David Christianson is a fourth-generation owner of Christianson Jewelry, Kendallville, IN, and president of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute. Questions, suggestions and comments can be sent toProfessional Jeweler,1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, PA 19102, e-mail




Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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