Posted April 29, 2016 by Mark Esslinger
If your metal watch band is broken or needs adjustment and is configured with these pin and sleeve connectors, this guide will show you how to easily remove links and ensure a perfect fit. Use this guide to remove links that are held in place with a pin and sleeve style friction pin.
How do you know if your watch band uses pin and sleeve pins to keep the links together? Look at the end of the pins (on the side of the watch band) these are usually smooth on both ends and similar to cotter pins -(dont get confused the pin and sleeves pin is NOT tapered so both ends are exactly the same diameter).
You may need a magnifier to see inside the band if the tube does not fall out of the band.
- A jeweler’s pliers
- A jeweler’s ball-peen hammer
- A pin pusher
- A watch band holder
- A parts tray
- A digital gauge
- And replacement Pin and sleeves
When you need to adjust the length of your watch band by removing links, it helps to know exactly how many links you need to remove. To learn How to Determine How Many Links to Remove from your watch band, check out this article.
Once you know how many links you need to remove from the band, you need to decide how many links you are removing from each side of the watch band. Anytime you are removing more than one link, you should split the total to be removed between both sides of the clasp so the clasp will stay centered on your wrist.
Choose the side you want to start with and set band in the watch band holder to keep it steady. If there are arrows on the inside of the watch band make sure and push the pins out the same direction of the arrows.
Feel free to open the watch band if you need more space to work – You can remove the “springbar” pin that is holding the clasp to the end of the band and open the band to get it to fit into the watch band holder. Removing the pin can make it easier to work on the watch band links and fit the band into the holder properly.
Make sure that the hole of the link you want to remove is positioned over a hole in the band holder.
Take your pin pushers and select the largest diameter pusher that will smoothly fit through the band link pin hole. Center the point of the pin pusher over the link pin in the watch band. Holding the pusher steady, take your small ball peen hammer and begin to tap on the end of the pin pusher with the flat head side. Try to keep the pin pusher as vertical as possible to avoid breaking or bending the tool.
When you cannot push the pin pusher any further into the band, set the pusher aside and remove the watch band from the holder. At this point, you will need to take the jeweler’s pliers and remove the pin. Hold the band firmly in your hand and grip the partially removed pin with your jeweler’s pliers to pull the pin out. Put the pin aside in your parts tray. The band should open into two pieces. Be careful as the small sleeve may fall out when you pull the watch band apart.
If the center sleeve did not fall out; set the watch band back in the holder so that the center piece with the sleeve still inside the link is accessible. Using the pin pusher again, position the tip inside the link hole against the silver ring of the pin sleeve. Pound the friction sleeve out of the hole with your ball peen hammer. Again, be careful not to use too much force and damage the watch band.
Count the number of links you need to remove from this side of the watch band. Place the watch band in the watch holder and align the hole in the last link you need to remove with a hole in the holder.
Take your pin pusher again and pound out the pin in this link with the flat head of your hammer. When you can’t drive the pin pusher down any further, set it aside and remove the band from the holder. Remove the pin from the band with your jeweler’s pliers and set it aside in your parts tray.
If you are only shortening your watch band, go to step 9
If you are replacing or have damaged pins or sleeves, take one of the pins that you removed from the watch band and measure its width with your digital gauge. Check both sides of the pin for accuracy – if there is a significant difference, you actually might have a cotter pin (tapered) and you need to follow these instructions on removing cotter pins.
With the replacement pins and sleeves ready, place the sleeve in the center link keeping your finger underneath so it will not fall all the way through. Then assemble the band to line up the holes and take one of the pins from your parts tray and slide it into the side of the link through the band and sleeve so that it holds the band together in place. Hold the pin in place in the links while you put the watch band in the band holder. This time, be sure to line up the hole in the link with a solid section of the watch holder to keep the pin in place. Make sure all holes are lined up so the pin will go through and secure properly.
Next, take your ball peen hammer and with the flat head end, start gently tapping on the end of the pin until it is pushed flush into the link and even with the down facing outer edge of the watch band.
If you are using new pins, they will need to be cut to fit your watch band. Once the bottom of the pin is flush with the outer edge of the watch band, take a cutter and get as close to flush as possible on the side sticking out and cut the pin. The pins are stainless steel so you will need a cutter with good strength.
After you have cut the end, you will need to smooth the rough edge of the pin by pushing back out the pin slightly and then using a jewelers file to smooth the pins so that it does not scratch you or get caught on anything. If you try to file the end while the pin is pushed into the watch band, you can damage your watch band.
If you have the old pin or know the size needed you can cut the pin before installing it into the band. Put the pin in a vise or holder and cut to the size needed. If you are cutting the pin outside of the band you can also use other tools such as a jewelers saw or a rotary tool (dremel, flex shaft, etc.). Once you have the pin sized correctly, file the end to a smooth finish.
With the band back together and before you remove any more links on the other side of the band, put your watch back on and check to see how it fits. Feel free to do the link test again and see if you still need to remove the number of links you decided on previously.
Once you have verified the number of links you need to remove, take the watch off again and turn it so you can remove the next links from the other side of the band. Repeat steps 3 through 10 to remove the remaining links and put the band back together again.
Replace the pin on the clasp to assemble the watch band again if you had taken the band apart.
Now that your watch band fits just the way you want, you can wear it again. Be sure to keep the extra links and pins that you removed from the watch in case you need them again in the future.