Most metal watch bands are held together with cotter pins, this guide will walk you through how to remove a band link to ensure that your watch fits. Keep in mind there are other styles of band links that this procedure will not apply to. For sizing instructions on other types of bands see our guide on How to Remove Watch Band Links.
When you need to adjust the length of your metal 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, you need to decide how many links you are removing from each side of the band. Remember that anytime you are removing more than one link, you should split the total to be removed between both sides of the clasp so you can keep it centered on your wrist.
Next you will need to pick which side of the watch band you want to start removing links from. When you’ve decided, examine the back of the watch band. You should see several small arrows that show which way the pins need to be pushed out of the band. Position your watch band in the band holder so that the arrows are pointing down and the first link you want to remove is centered over a hole in the holder.
Now that you have the band positioned to remove a pin from the link, test your pin pushers in the hole with the cotter pin until you find the pusher that fits in the link. Once you have the right size pin pusher, hold it against the cotter pin. Using the flat head of your ball peen hammer, tap the pin out of the link with the pin pusher. When you cannot push the pin pusher any further into the watch band, set it aside and remove the watch band from the holder. The cotter pin should fall out of the link, but if it doesn’t just remove it with your fingers and set it aside in your parts tray.
Count the links you need to remove from this side of the watch band moving from the loose link near the clasp in toward the watch case. When you know how many links to remove, place the watch band back in the holder and line up the hole in the last link you want to remove with a hole in the holder.
Take your pin pusher and repeat the process from before to remove the cotter pin. Align the pusher with the hole in the link and tap the pin out with the flat head of your ball peen hammer. Remove the band from the holder when you cannot push the pin out any further. Set the cotter pin aside in your parts tray with the extra links.
With the first links removed, put both loose ends of your watch band together so they form a solid band again. Then, insert one of the cotter pins into the hole in the links to hold them together. The thin straight end of the pin should be inserted first, against the arrow like this. The wide part of the cotter pin should always be pounded in last.
Put the band in the holder to keep it steady. Make sure that the hole in the link is lined up with a solid part of the watch band holder. Use the flat head of your ball peen hammer and start to tap the pin back into place. You shouldn’t need a whole lot of force to get the cotter pin into the links until you reach the wide end.
When the pin is almost back in place, you should use your pin pusher between the cotter pin and the hammer to tap the pin into the hole. Always keep the ball peen hammer as separated from the watch band as possible to avoid damaging the band. Set the pin pushers aside once the cotter pin is flush against with the watch band.
With the watch band back together, remove it from the band and try it on to check the fit. Do the link test again here to make sure you still need to remove the same number of links you expected at the beginning.
Once you have verified the number of links you need to remove, take the watch band off and turn it so you can remove the next links from the other side of the band.
Repeat steps 3 through 8 to remove the remaining links.
Put the band back together and try it on again. It should fit now that you have removed the number of links you determined. If it is still too big, you can always remove another link. If it is too small now, you can check out this article on How to Add Cotter Pin Watch Band Links to a watch band here.
When your watch band fits just the way you wanted, you can wear it everyday. Be sure to keep the links you removed from the band and the extra cotter pins in a safe place in case you need them in the future.