Timepieces consist of many parts and the majority of watches incorporate spring bars. With a primary role to secure the watch strap or bracelet, spring bars ensure that your watch remains in place with a secure fit on your wrist.
Whether you need to remove links for a tighter fit or swap out the watch strap entirely, it is likely that your timepiece will require the removal of the watchband spring bar. The ability to remove the spring bar allows you to not only adjust the watch band to your unique wrist size but also provides the option to transform the appearance of your timepiece completely.
However, due to their small size and potential obstructions posed by watch straps, accessing spring bars can be an intricate and delicate procedure. Removing spring bars without the proper tool can pose challenges and even cause damage to your watch. It is therefore paramount that a spring bar tool is added to your watchmaking tool kit.
What is a Spring Bar Tool?
A spring bar tool is a specially designed tool that is an essential addition to your watchmaking tool kit. Spring bars are used to securely attach watch straps or bracelets to the watch case and the tool’s purpose is to facilitate the removal and insertion of these spring bars during strap changes, repairs or customization.
A spring bar tool is a fundamental tool for watchmakers, ensuring the safe and efficient removal of watch straps without damaging the delicate components of the timepiece.
How do Spring Bar Tools Work?
Spring bar tools are a single-purpose tool that performs their task extremely well. These small metal tools are designed to compress the spring-loaded ends of a spring bar. By compressing the spring bar, the tool allows the user to release it from the lug hole which then detaches the strap.
The tool also aids in attaching a new strap or bracelet by compressing the spring bar, easing it into the lug hole and then releasing the tension to secure the strap. It is a relatively simple and basic tool but one that you will find extremely valuable as part of your watchmaking tool kit.
Expanding your watchmaking tool kit can be costly as even the most affordable and budget-friendly tools quickly add up. It is common for novice watchmakers to cut corners and one tool that is regularly overlooked is the spring bar tool.
There are many items around the house that can perform the same job such as tweezers, toothpicks and needles. It is easy for a beginner to watchmaking to decide that these items will do the job, however, this is done at a risk. These items can easily cause accidental damage and scratches to your timepiece.
A spring bar tool on the other hand is specifically designed for this exact role and purpose therefore working more efficiently and reducing the risk of accidental damage. Employing the correct tool not only minimizes scratching risks but also streamlines the removal process.
Different Types of Spring Bar Tool
Not all spring bar tools are created equal and there are in fact three different types of spring bar tool that perform the same job.
Pen-Style Spring Bar Tool
This spring bar tool has a fork design at the tip so that you remove the spring bar from one side at a time. The pen-style is the most basic and affordable spring bar tool that performs the job well but is also more time-consuming to use as you can only work on one side at a time and requires more precision to avoid damage.
The best Pen-Style Spring Bar Tool is the Bergeon 6767 which comes in two variations. The Bergeon 6767-S (Standard) is best for use with leather straps whereas the Bergeon 6767-F (Fine) is best used for metal bracelets. In my experience the Bergeon 6767-F is the best option to cover all bases.
Tweezer Spring Bar Tool
A more professional option is the tweezer spring bar tool. This tool allows for good grip on both sides of the spring bar at the same time. This type of spring bar tool is great as it dramatically reduces the risk of damage and leaving marks on the lugs as you can remove the strap without any contact with the watch case.
Although this is a more expensive option it does provide an additional level of safety against damaging the watch case.
Advanced Tweezer Spring Bar Tool
Working in a similar fashion to a standard tweezer-style spring bar tool, this tool features an adjustment that can be locked into place. This prevents sliding and further minimizing any potential scratches or damage.
How to Choose a Spring Bar Tool
There are many things to look for when choosing a spring bar tool and what may work for one watchmaker, may not work for another. In this regard, there is a certain degree of trial and error to find the one that fits your toolkit. However, there are some essential things to consider when choosing a spring bar tool.
Firstly, you need to decide which type of spring bar tool you want. Pen-style spring bar tools are the most affordable but are basic and have more limitations. Whereas, a tweezer spring bar tool performs the job the best.
You also want to determine the quality level of the spring bar tool you are purchasing. Whilst two may look the same, the quality may vary dramatically. Whilst a spring bar tool might seem like an element of your watchmaking toolkit where you can save money, cheaper tools are often lower quality and less durable.
You may find that lower end tools bend, break or lose precision and it is therefore not an area you want to compromise on. Consider a spring bar tool as a great investment for your watchmaking toolkit and don’t cut corners on price as it may cost you more in the long run.
How to Use a Spring Bar Tool
A spring bar tool is a relatively simple and basic tool, however, it is still one that requires precision to minimize the risk of damage. Using a spring bar tool correctly is essential for safely and effectively changing watch straps or bracelets.
Step 1: Find a well-lit, stable surface to work on. Spring bars are small and fiddly watch parts to work with so you want to make sure you have a clear view and ample workspace.
Step 2: If using pen-style spring bar tools, most have two ends: a forked end and a pointed end. Choose the one that suits your specific watch, strap design and current task. The forked end is usually used to remove spring bars while the pointed end is for inserting them.
If using a tweezer style, both sides of the tweezer will be used. Watch spring bar sizes are all different so you may find that this is not applicable to your own timepiece. The most common is a 20mm watch spring bar but every watch is different.
Step 3: Lay the watch down on its side with the lug (the part that holds the strap) facing upwards. This makes it easier to access the spring bars. You can then find the lug hole which is the small opening between the lug and the strap.
Step 4: Insert the spring bar tool into the lug hole, positioning it beneath the flange of the spring bar. Apply gentle pressure with the spring bar tool to compress the spring bar. This releases its tension from the lug hole.
Step 5: Whilst keeping the spring bar compressed, carefully slide the strap or bracelet away from the lug. The spring bar should pop out of the lug hole.
Step 6: If removing links, repeat above for each link that needs removing.
Step 7: Once you have removed links or selected your new strap, it is time to reattach. Slide the spring bar through the lug holes of the strap and ensure the spring bar is correctly aligned with the lug holes.
Step 8: Insert the spring bar tool into the lug hole, placing it under the flange of the spring bar. Carefully align the lug hole of the new strap with the lug, so the spring bar can fit through. Apply slight pressure with the spring bar tool to compress the spring bar and then gently guide it into the lug hole. Slowly release the tool, allowing the spring bar to expand and secure the strap in place.
Step 9: Give the strap a gentle tug to ensure it’s securely attached. Repeat the process for the other side of the watch, if necessary.
Remember that when removing the watch strap, patience is key to avoid damage to the watch case and loss of spring bars. Take your time and with practice, you’ll become more proficient at changing watch straps like a pro.
During this process, if your watch has standard spring bars, you may also want to consider switching out to quick release spring bars. This is greatly beneficial, particularly to those who like to switch out watch straps regularly as they allow you to quickly change the straps without the use of any spring bar tools.
Spring Bar Tool FAQ
If you don’t have a spring bar tool, you can still attempt to remove or replace watch straps or bands using some common household items. These include tweezers, toothpicks, paperclips and many other items. Whilst these items can be used in a pinch, it is safer and more efficient to use a spring bar tool. A spring bar tool will prove to be a worthy addition to your watchmaking tool kit and prevent any accidental damage to your timepiece.
Whilst there are many alternatives that will perform the same or similar job to a spring bar tool, it is advised that watchmakers and collectors regularly tinkering with timepieces add a spring bar tool to their watchmaking tool kit. Not only are spring bar tools more efficient at performing the task, they are also specifically designed for the job and will prevent any accidental damage that makeshift tools may cause.
A spring bar tool is specifically designed for moving watch links and is the best tool for the task.
If you think I’ve missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.