How to Shorten a Metal Watch Strap

Updated April 17, 2017

Paying a jeweller to shorten a metal watch strap can be costly. You also must go through the trouble of finding a shop and waiting for the strap to be resized. Removing links from a watch strap is a relatively simple process with the right tools and a little patience. No prior experience is necessary for this repair, and proper tools can shorten the turnaround time. Although thumbtacks are relatively easy to find at home, a link removal tool can invoke more confidence when working with small pieces.

Select a clean and flat surface. A proper work area will reduce the likelihood of losing small pieces. Place a towel or tablecloth over the work area to keep tools and pins from rolling off.

Wrap a tape measure around your wrist to determine the new size of the watch strap. This decreases the chance of having to repeat the process. Leave a little room to avoid cutting off blood circulation to your hand.

Select the segment to remove. Consider removing segments from the six o'clock side of the strap to balance out the deployant clasp.

Hold the watch firmly with your secondary hand. Grasp the thumbtack with your primary hand. Choose which side of the undesired segment to detach first.

Push against the pin with a thumbtack. Grasp the end with needle-nose plies and pull if the pin does not come out completely. Push against the solid end of the pin so that the split end comes out of the strap hole first, suggests Watch Material.

Place loose pins in a container or in the work area to attach the two ends of the strap together again later.

Repeat Steps 1 through 3 for the other side of the segment. Keep the removed links in case you need spare parts later.

Align the pin with the strap holes, pushing against the arrows or against the split end so the solid end goes in first. Push the pin in with needle-nose pliers. Tap lightly with the hammer if necessary.

Pull the strap towards the wheel. The Poor Man's Watch Forum recommends placing the tip of the removal tool inside the pin hole of the strap before tightening. Turn clockwise until the strap is firmly in place.

Turn the wheel clockwise, pushing the pin out of the strap hole. Pull the pin completely out with needle-nose pliers if necessary.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 for the other side of the segment. Realign the new ends of the strap together.

Turn the wheel clockwise again to push the pin back in. Push against the arrows if present. Push against the split end of the pin, letting the solid end go in first if no arrows are present on the watch strap.

Push the inserted pin in. Use needle-nose pliers or tap lightly with a rubber hammer if necessary.


Open the watch strap by removing the pin attached to the adjustable clasp. This will make the watch easier to manoeuvre and grasp. Consider buying a link removal tool (from £3 to £6 in 2010) if you need to resize a number of watch straps.


Consider wearing protective glasses and never align a pin with your eye, especially when applying force.

Things You'll Need

  • Thumbtack or link removal tool
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Sewing tape measure
  • Rubber hammer
  • White tablecloth or towel (optional)
  • Container (optional)
  • Protective eye glasses (optional)
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About the Author

Eric Blake has been writing professionally since 1999. He is also a consultant for both foreign and domestic students when they apply to graduate and undergraduate school. Blake holds a bachelor’s degree in software engineering from Florida International University and is a certified paramedic.