Tag Heuer Carrera Watch on Brown Hirsch Speed Alligator Strap
Tag Heuer Carrera Watch on a Brown Hirsch Speed Alligator Strap. Photo courtesy of Watch Obsession.

This is one of our guides on watch straps and watches. For more guides, including guides on watch band style and safe places to buy a watch online, check out our guides page.

1. Get the right size

Measure the width between your watch lugs (where the strap attaches to the watch) to make sure you’re buying the right size strap. A strap too big will bunch up and pop off or won’t fit on. A strap too small will have an unsightly gap or an annoying shifting motion as your watch moves separately from your strap.

Lug width is measured in millimeters, which is why you’ll see sizes like 22mm and 24mm on websites. Get out a ruler and measure the distance between your lugs before you buy. You can also look up your lug widths on the manufacturer’s website or Google. Even numbers are popular, odd numbers are harder to find.

2. Get the right length

Most watch straps come in a standard length that will fit most wrists. If your wrists are very big or very small, you might want to consider getting or shorter or longer strap. Measure the size of your wrist with a soft tape measure or wrap a piece of paper around your wrist and then lay it flat and measure it.

Watch straps lengths are commonly measured in millimeters, just like the width. Websites that cater to Americans will sometimes show sizes in inches instead. You’ll also commonly see two sizes mentioned right next to each other, for example, 120/75mm. These measurements are for each half of the watch strap that you’re buying. The smaller size is usually the buckle end, while the longer size is the is the end with the holes punched along it.

3. Get the right tools

Watch straps are removed with a spring bar tool. Cheap ones cost around $10 on Amazon and make it a lot easier to get your old strap off and your new strap on. In a pinch, you can use a small screwdriver or a knife. You’ll also need a soft cloth for your watch to rest on so it doesn’t get scratched. If your watch has no strap on at all, it might be missing the spring bars. You can buy new ones for a few dollars, although a few strap companies include spring bars for free. The bars are also measured in millimeters and will need to be bought to size.

Some watch strap companies sell quick-release straps, which don’t use a spring bar tool. Instead, there is a little knob on the underside of the strap that you use to compress the spring bar. Examples include Barton Bands and Carty.

4. Check the hardware

Rarely, some watch straps are sold without buckles, so check the listing before you buy. You don’t want to end up buying a nice strap only to find out you must also buy a buckle to go along with it. On the other hand, you might want to replace the standard buckle with a new one that matches your case. Most replacement watch strap hardware is brushed or stainless steel, so if you have a watch case that is neither of those two colors, you might want to look into getting matching hardware somewhere else. Common other colors include gold, rose gold and black.

5. Get the right material

Check the listing for clues as to what material the watch strap is made from or email the strap company and ask. That crocodile strap you just thought you bought could actually be calf leather stamped or embossed to match common crocodile patterns. If the exact material matters to you, check on forums and watch websites for trusted strap suppliers who are known to use specific types of materials. If you’re in the market for a top-notch leather or exotic strap like crocodile, lizard, stingray & alligator, we have a list of custom strap makers with good reputations on our list of custom watch strap makers page.

Lastly, we have collected popular strap options on our Amazon Store page. Basically, if it has a ton of 5 star reviews and a good price, you’ll find it on there. We’ve got lists for NATO straps, leather, silicone, canvas, & Apple Watch straps.

The watch in the image is a Tag Heuer Carrera Watch on Brown Hirsch Speed Alligator Strap.

If you’re interested in more watch strap fashion, check out our other guides:

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