Disclaimer: Do this at your own risk
When buying vintage Timex watches online the first thing you’ll probably encounter is how dirty they are having often been worn for many years then left to rot at the back of an old drawer for the past 40 years. The worst culprit for attracting grime is the watch strap or bracelet so one of the first things you will want to do is to remove it. Some vintage straps, bands and bracelets are worth restoring, especially if they’re catalog accurate to the watch. I’ll create a guide for that at some point.
Removing watch straps and bracelets from vintage Timex watches uses the same process and requires a special tool. This being said if your in a pinch and only have a picket knife or small screwdriver then those can be used with some risk. I recommend the Bergeon spring bar removal tool as its hard wearing, wont bend and has replaceable parts, so should last you a life time. Alternatively any cheap spring bar tool from eBay will do.
- Prepare your work surface. Put a case cushion down or place a folded piece of lint free cloth onto a flat surface. This protects your watch crystal.
- Place your watch crystal-down on the surface and extend the straps out fully to give you easy access to the watches lugs. If the watch has a stretch band or fixed clasp then i recommend trying to give yourself as much access to the lugs as possible by holding the base of the band/bracelet away from the case.
- Using the spring bar tool, insert the forked end into the gap between the lug and strap and connect with the collar on the spring bar. now gently tease the spring bar out of its hole while gently twisting the strap/bracelet. It might take a few goes for the tool to find the collar but once you’ve done one the second will be easier.
My spring bar is stuck!
In some cases the spring bars can become corroded and will not move. in this case you may have to damage the strap/band/bracelet in order to remove the spring bar.
For leather, fabric or plastic straps simply cut the strap at the end to reveal the spring bar. Then using pliers to twist the spring bar to free it. this will destroy the spring bar.
For stretch bands and bracelets use a pocket knife to tease open the folded metal that wraps around the spring bar. Then using pliers to twist the spring bar to free it. this will destroy the spring bar.
Fitting a new watch strap, band or bracelet
Firstly you will need to find a watch strap, band or bracelet to fit your watch. To do this measure the distance between the watch lugs. Annoyingly a lot of Vintage Timex watches have a 19mm lug width making them hard to buy as most suppliers work in 18mm, 20mm, 22mm widths.
For stretch bands there is usually a spring loaded adapter at each end that allows a stretch band to fit several different sizes.
If the band, strap or bracelet doesn’t come with spring bars then these will be your next purchase. Again find one that is sized to fit your lug width.
- Push a spring bar into the end of your strap and position the buckle ended one for fitting at the logo-end of the dial.
- Next insert the end of the spring bar into one of the holes in the lugs making sure that the strap is the right way up.
- Now using the spring bar tool, a finger nail or flat side of a pocket knife depress the opposite spring bar down so it pushes inside the watch strap and slide the strap into position.
- Let the spring bar free once its within the lugs.
- Now move the strap around until the spring bar finds the hole.
This can sometimes take a little trial and error as the holes in lugs can be tricky to find.