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New Year New Look, how to change your watch strap for a fresh new look

Published 23 December 2021

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There’s no better way to give your watch a new lease of life and a new look than a fresh strap. There’s no better time to change it up than the start of a new year and for many watches, changing a strap has never been easier.

Before we break out the tools and swap out that worn old strap for something new — it’s worth thinking about what sort of strap you’re going to replace it with and that comes down to style and purpose. Is there a practical consideration to consider? It’s summer after all, so perhaps you’re planning to hit the beach or get out on the boat, in which case a rubber or textile strap would make for a hard-wearing, water-friendly option. Or maybe you just want to change the look of your watch. A bright coloured strap is a great mood enhancer, while something like a suede or slightly distressed, ‘vintage-looking’ leather can make a more formal timepiece feel casual. Of course, the opposite is equally true; a sleek leather strap can elevate a typically sporty watch to new heights. Don’t be afraid to experiment your favourite watch brand will offer a range of replacement straps suitable for all occasions.

pilots chrono 41 straps
Featuring IWC Schffhausen Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 (IW388101)

The main thing to know when swapping a strap is the size of the strap. While the length matters, width is more important. Specifically the width at the end where it is attached to the case. This is measured in millimetres, and the strap should fit between the lugs – or horns – of the case. Some standard widths are 18mm, 20mm or 22mm. When it comes to changing the strap or bracelet, many brands, such as Cartier and Vacheron Constantin, offer models with quick-change systems that allow you to easily swap your strap, no tools required. Other brands, like Panerai, use screw-based systems and often provide appropriate tools with the watch.

Strap Bar Experience 5 9f0f190f 1b86 4fae b9bd ae3526a5e0c7 1161645434
Featuring Vacheron Constantin‘s Strap Bar Experience

If your watch doesn’t have this sort of feature, the chances are the strap is held in place with something called a spring bar, a small metal bar that maintains its tension with an internal spring. To remove the strap, you need to carefully slide a tool between the watch lug and the end of the band, and gently relieve the tension, allowing you to remove the strap. From then, follow the process in reverse to fit the new strap. Fair warning, this can be a delicate procedure, so proper tools, a stable workspace and attention are advised to avoid scratches. Practice makes perfect, and once you get the hang of it, being able to quickly swap a watch strap to suit your mood is quite rewarding.

Brown calf leather Strap hand sewn Tone to tone stitching Calf lining
Featuring Vacheron Constantin‘s Historiques American 1921 (82035/000R-9359)

The same theory applies to watch bracelets, of course, but the unforgiving metal leaves even less room for error, and more room for scratches, so work up to it or let the professionals handle it for you.

Visit your nearest Kennedy boutique and enquire about your watch strap and accessory needs.

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