How to Install Plate Pin Expansion Band Links | Esslinger Watchmaker Supplies Blog
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Posted by Esslinger Staff

If your metal watch band is too small, you can sometimes make it larger to ensure a perfect fit by adding links. You can use this guide to add Plate Pin style links to expansion watch bands. You can recognize an expansion band by its flexible and stretchy style, and you can identify a plate pin style band by looking at the edge of the links. If you look at the edge of the link and the two sides appear to be simply sitting on top of each other, you are dealing with a plate pin style band. In between the two big sides, you should be able to see a thin metal piece above each of the bottom links.

Note that most plate pin style expansion bands are rare and often have clasps unlike your traditional expansion bands.

 

Tools Needed:

 

Step 1

If you have previously removed links from your watch band, find the extra links and pins that you removed. You can use them to add links to your band without having to purchase new parts or links. If you don’t have extra links, you will need to order additional links if you can.

Since it is difficult to determine how many links you need to add to your watch band, it is best to start by opening the watch band and then estimating the number of links to insert. Most expansion bands with plate pins have clasps and you need to be sure to split the total links to be removed between both sides of the clasp so it will stay centered on your wrist. In this guide we will walk you through how to insert links to one side of the band. Simply repeat this guide to add half the links you need to insert to the other side of the clasp to keep it centered on your wrist if necessary.

 

Step 2

Place the watch band on your bench mat on its side with the flat inside of the band facing you. The first thing you are going to do to remove the links is to peel open the edge of the base link. Find where the link turns up toward the top link cover and slip the blade of your bench knife under the tab. Grip the band and press your thumb into the back of the band over the link you are trying to remove. Pry the tab up by lifting the knife blade up and turning it toward your thumb.

You may have to do this several times before you open the tab enough to allow you to remove the link. If you have issues opening the link, once you get the work started with your knife blade, you can use your pliers to pull the tab more open.

 

Step 3

Turn the watch band over so you can open the tab on the other side of the base link you started working on. Insert the blade of your bench knife under the tab and grip the band securely with your thumb holding the link steady. Pry this tab up with your bench knife like you did before. Lift the blade up and turn it toward your thumb to open it. Repeat this until the tab is pulled back to expose the plate pin inside the link. Remember to use your pliers if necessary to open it all the way.

 

Step 4

Take your sharp nosed pliers and grab the thin metal bar that sits between the two sides of the link. Pull the plate pin out of the two link portions. You may need to wiggle the pin a little as you pull on it to get it out of the band. Set it in your parts tray.

 

Step 5

Once the plate pin is free, you need to remove the base link from the band to open it. To remove this part of the band you’ll need to bend it at a right angle to unhook the metal bar. The back of the band should be on the inside of the angle and you will need to wiggle the band until one side of the base link comes free.

Let the loose side of the band fall free and remove the loose base link as well adding it to your parts tray.

 

Step 6

Now that the band is open, you can estimate the number of links to add. Position the band on your wrist like you would normally wear it. Turn your wrist over so you can see the inside of your wrist where the band is opened. Hold the ends on your wrist so that the band rests on your arm like you would like it to. Take your extra links and lay them in the gap inside your wrist until they fill the space. Note that most extra links come in sets of several links.

REMEMBER: if your band has a clasp split the links you need to add evenly so that you can add some to each side of the band.

Set the chunk of links aside and if you need to adjust them, or split the chunk in half to go on either side of the band clasp do so by removing links from the sets like you did to open the band. When you have the right set of links arranged to fit inside the gap in your watch band we can add them to the band and close the gap.

 

Step 7

To attach your loose links to the band you will want to hold the watch band in one hand so that it is laying flat with the outside of the band facing up. Make sure it is not curling down at the end. Grab a loose base link from your parts tray and place it under the band that the open side with the teeth is facing up toward the back of the band. Place the base link under the edge of the band, and angle it at a forty-five degree angle. Slide it up and across the end of the band until the teeth catch in the bottom of the link cover. It might take a couple tries to get it in right.

 

Step 8

Next, take the loose section of links and prepare to connect it to the side you just connected the base link back to. The finished side of the band should still be facing up. Bring the two ends together and set the side without the base link over the other side. Keeping the two ends close together, slide the link cover down to catch on the hooks of the base link. You may need to stretch the band to get it to catch in place. When the two ends of the band have been connected with the base link, hold them together and slide them into your watch band holder so they can’t fall apart.

 

Step 9

Once the band is held securely in the holder, grab one of the loose plate pins from your parts tray and prepare to insert it into the gap formed in the band by the base link you just reattached to the link cover. Prepare to insert the plate pin back into your band. The plate pin looks a little like a sculpted mustache and should fit into the band under the teeth of the base link. It will work a little like this, if you imagine that you can see through the link cover.

Slip the plate pin into the gap so that the two upturned ends are facing up toward the link cover side of the band. The plate’s curved ends should also slide under the metal teeth and you may need to angle it to get it to fit in place. You will have to use some pressure to slide the pin into place and may need to wiggle it a little until it falls into place. If you need, you can use your closed pliers to push the plate pin into place inside the link pieces.

 

Step 10

After you have positioned the plate pin inside the links, you will need to press the base link tabs closed again. Start by folding the tab back into place with pliers to get it started. Once you have started the process you will use the flat side of your bench knife to push the link closed. You may have to do this more than once.

If the metal is tough and you can’t press it back down, you can use a small ball peen hammer to close the tabs. Keep the flat of the knife blade pressed to the tab and tap on the blade with your hammer like so. Stop when the tab is flush with the other tabs in the band.

 

Step 11

Remove the watch band from the holder when the first tab has been pushed flat again. Turn the band over and reinsert it into the holder to close the second tab.

Take your jewelers pliers and start closing the tab by folding it back over the link. Just pull it enough over the link to get it started, you don’t want to damage the tab with the pliers. Then with your bench knife, push the tab closed with the flat side of the blade. Keep pressing the tab down until it is flush with the other base link tabs. Again, if you can’t close the tab completely with your knife because the metal is stubborn, you can use the flat head of your ball peen hammer to finish closing it. Keep the blade over the tab and tap on the blade with the hammer until the tab is flush with the band.

 

Step 12

With the links attached to one side of the band you can remove it from the band holder. Judge the fit quickly to see you your estimate was correct and then prepare to close the band again.

Remember you will still have to add links to the other side of the clasp later if your band has a clasp. Once you have verified the number of links you need to add you can close the watch band.

 

Step 13

Hold the watch band in one hand so that it is laying flat with the outside of the band facing up. Make sure it is not curling down at the end. Grab another loose base link from your parts tray and place it under the band that the open side with the teeth is facing up toward the back of the band. Place the base link under the edge of the band, and angle it at a forty-five degree angle. Slide it up and across the end of the band until the teeth catch in the bottom of the link cover. It might take a couple tries to get it in right.

 

Step 14

Next, take the loose section of links and prepare to connect it to the side you just connected the base link back to. The finished side of the band should still be facing up. Bring the two ends together and set the side without the base link over the other side. Keeping the two ends close together, slide the link cover down to catch on the hooks of the base link. You may need to stretch the band to get it to catch.

When the two ends of the band have been connected with the base link, hold them together and slide them into your watch band holder so they can’t fall apart. Once the band is held securely in the holder, grab one of the loose plate pins from your parts tray and prepare to insert it into the gap formed in the band by the base link you just reattached to the link cover.

 

Step 15

Prepare to insert the plate pin back into your band. The plate pin looks a little like a sculpted mustache and should fit into the band under the teeth of the base link. It will work a little like this, if you imagine that you can see through the link cover. Slip the plate pin into the gap so that the two upturned ends are facing up toward the link cover side of the band. The plate’s curved ends should also slide under the metal teeth and you may need to angle it to get it to fit in place.

You will have to use some pressure to slide the pin into place and may need to wiggle it a little until it falls into place. If you need, you can use your closed pliers to push the plate pin into place inside the link pieces.

 

Step 16

After you have positioned the plate pin inside the links, you will need to press the base link tabs closed again. Start by folding the tab back into place with pliers to get it started. Once you have started the process you will use the flat side of your bench knife to push the link closed. You may have to do this more than once.

If the metal is tough and you can’t press it back down, you can use a small ball peen hammer to close the tabs. Keep the flat of the knife blade pressed to the tab and tap on the blade with your hammer like so. Stop when the tab is flush with the other tabs in the band.

 

Step 17

Remove the watch band from the holder when the first tab has been pushed flat again. Turn the band over and reinsert it into the holder to close the second tab. Take your jewelers pliers and start closing the tab by folding it back over the link. Just pull it enough over the link to get it started, you don’t want to damage the tab with the pliers. Then with your bench knife, push the tab closed with the flat side of the blade. Keep pressing the tab down until it is flush with the other base link tabs.

If you can’t close the tab completely with your knife because the metal is stubborn, you can use the flat head of your ball peen hammer to finish closing it. Keep the blade over the tab and tap on the blade with the hammer until the tab is flush with the band.

 

Step 18

With the band completely and securely closed again you can remove it from the band holder.

From here, you will simply repeat this entire process on the other side of the clasp to open the band and add the remaining links.

 

Finished

Now that your watch band fits just the way you want, you can wear it again. Be sure to keep any extra links or pins that you may have left over at the end in case you need them again in the future. And check out our Learning Center to learn more about watch repair.

 

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