Professional Jeweler Archive: Shortening a Double Rope Watch Bracelet

November 2002

Professional Bench/Defining Quality


Shortening a Double Rope Watch Bracelet

Knowing how to professionally shorten a double karat gold rope watch bracelet demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop


Steece Hermanson is often called upon to shorten watch bracelets. This article features techniques for fitting and shortening the Cyma double rope watch bracelet below.

Fitting and Preparing for Shortening

Precisely fitting a watch bracelet to the wrist is critical to satisfy your customer. Here are the steps Hermanson and the Galloway & Moseley sales staff use:

1. Determine where the customer would like to wear the watch. Some like it fitted snugly to the smaller part of the wrist; others like it looser like a bracelet.

2. Cut and remove one end (either end) of the bracelet at the joint between the clasping mechanism and rope chain using a separating disc or diamond wheel. The rotary diamond wheel is 0.3mm to 0.4mm thick. Or use a saw.

3. Ask your customer to position his or her wrist upside down.

4. Wrap the watch around the location where the customer wishes to wear it.

5. Overlap the watch bracelet.

6. Mark the uncut end of the bracelet where it overlaps with the cut end using a black indelible marker.
7. Measure the amount of the overlap. In this case, it’s 16mm.

8. Cut the other clasp off using the same method as described in step #1. (Note the position of each clasp end. The foldover part of the clasp should be positioned on the 6:00 side of the watch bracelet.)

9. Divide the total overlap in half (16mm ÷ 2 = 8mm. Measure and mark 8mm from each end of the bracelet.

Reassembly Preparation

10. Join the double rope and links at the precise location where it will be cut for shortening by using the laser welder and welding. A torch and easy flowing solder may be used also. Be careful to join only the location where the bracelet will be cut. Doing this will help keep the chain links from unraveling.

11. Cut and remove 8mm from each end of the bracelet by using a diamond wheel or separating disc. This cut must be straight and even.

Reassembly Procedure

12. Create a small indentation on the outside edge of each bracelet end. This will allow the mechanism to move freely once it’s reassembled permanently. We will illustrate two options: reassembly using a laser welder and reassembly using conventional torch procedures.

Reassembly Using a Laser Welder

13. There is no need to disassemble the catch and/or clasp mechanisms when using a laser welder. The heat will be confined to the intended weld joints.

14. The flush-cut end of the rope bracelet and the rounded shape of the tube form a perfect joint for laser welding.

15. Hermanson holds the pieces to be reassembled in his hands. He sets the laser welder at 250 volts using the 3.3- millisecond setting and a focus of 6. He starts by joining the central portion of the joint.

16. To complete the weld, he backfills both sides of the joint with 28 gauge yellow gold wire.

17. Minor polishing and finishing is required.

Reassembly Using Conventional Torch Procedure

1. Disassemble each side of the clasp mechanism.

2. Remove the watch movement and crystal.

3. Follow steps 1-12 for sizing and cutting of excess length.

4. Use a separating disc and small round escapement file to prepare a concave shape in the end of each rope bracelet. A precise fitting solder joint is essential for torch soldering.

5. Hermanson tack-welds the rope bracelet to the tube portion of each clasp end. For these materials, he sets his ABI Tack II welder to 35 volts on the high-energy setting.

6. Next he tack-welds chips of Hoover and Strong’s extra easy solder into position. The Tack II welder settings are 25 to 30 volts with the low energy setting.

7. After fire coating each end, he uses a modest flame and solders the tubes in place.

8. Pickle, rinse and prefinish.

9. Reassemble and rivet each clasp end.

10. Polish, finish and clean.

11. Cement the crystal and reinstall the movement.

Procedure Summary

Sizing a double rope watch bracelet requires 45 minutes using a laser welder. Using conventional torch methods, the same job requires up to two hours.

For questions related to this process, contact Steece Hermanson by e-mail at shermanson@FTC-I.NET.

– by Mark B. Mann

Technical contributions by JA® Certified Master Bench Jeweler Steece Hermanson
Shop manager for Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC

Illustrations by Lainie Mann, Visual Communications
(406) 961-4426.

©2002 – Visual Communications


Shortening a Double Rope Watch Bracelet

A. The bracelet fits as the customer requested.

B. The double rope chain pieces are even and smooth where rejoined to the clasp.

C. The double rope chain pieces are free of tool marks and excess solder.

D. The reassembly of the clasp (if required) is complete and assembled on the proper ends, has secure rivets and is free of tool marks. It operates easily and moves freely.

Potential Problems to Watch for

The ends of the double rope chain are frozen and stiff because too much solder and an improper torch technique were used.
The chain doesn’t move freely because the tube portion of the clasp was frozen during the laser welding or soldering process.
The ends of the chain were not cut evenly, and the clasp was reassembled unevenly. The clasp will not operate properly and may fail while worn.
The watch bracelet will be too tight because of inaccurate measuring, an error in workmanship and preparation. The bracelet will be very difficult to lengthen professionally to correct the error.

– by Mark B. Mann

Illustrations by Lainie Mann, Visual Communications
(406) 961-4426. ©2002 – Visual Communications

This series is sponsored in part by Jewelers of America

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications