We all have a favorite watch that we wear often. Unfortunately, sometimes the loop on the strap breaks. Read on to find options for repairing your watch strap loop.
Fixing a Keeper
Most watch bands have one or two loops on the strap to keep the bracelet or band from flopping around on your wrist. Known by different names like hoop, retainer, loop, these loops are officially called “keepers,” and they can sometimes fall off and break. Leather or cloth keepers will disintegrate through wear and tear from moisture or sweat, while rubber ones can become brittle and snap.
The good news is that you can fix a broken watch hoop in several ways. The easiest way is to buy a replacement loop on Amazon and put it on the strap. Rubber loops can sometimes be stretched over the buckle, but for most replacement loops you must disconnect the strap or buckle to get the new loop on. Important: make sure you buy the correct width loop, measured in millimeters.
How to get the new loop onto your watch
Watch straps and some buckles are held on by tiny spring bars that you squeeze together to get them to release. Think of the way a roll of toilet paper is replaced by squeezing the bar to get it back into the holder. Most watches work the same way, just with tiny metal spring bars instead.
You can squeeze these bars together by putting pressure on the bar using a spring bar tool specifically made for the job. Cheap spring bar tools are sold on Amazon or from watch strap makers for about $10 or so. In a pinch, you can use a sharp knife or tiny screwdriver. Check out a video of the process here. If you need to take off a buckle, be aware that sometimes the spring bar is removed by poking the pin end of the tool through the tiny hole on the side of the buckle, like this.
Once you’ve got the strap off, just slide the new loop on. If you have a leather or colored strap, you will want to hunt down a matching color. If your strap is heavily tapered, your new loop might not fit over the big end where the strap attaches to the watch. Instead, you’ll have to take the buckle off and slide the loop on from that end.
One of my loops is sewn or glued in, what can I do?
Most watches have two keepers, and it’s common to find one loop that moves freely along the strap and one loop that is sewn or glued in near the buckle. The good news is that if your loop was glued onto the strap and came loose, you can just glue it back on. Super glue works on most materials. On the other hand, if your loop broke and was glued or sewn in by sandwiching it between layers of your strap, you won’t be able to get it out without a lot of effort.
The easiest solution is to cut off the parts of the loop that stick out with a very sharp knife and put a freely moving loop on in its place. If having two freely moving loops bothers you, you can glue one down with fabric or super glue. Just remember that the glue goes on the inside of the strap!
If you’re wearing a very expensive, unique or sentimental band, another option is to have it sent in for repairs. Some watch shops offer the service, or you can find a leathermaker or watch strap maker who could repair it for you. The nice thing about having a leathermaker or strap maker do the repair is that they can probably match the band’s color and appearance very closely. If you have an official strap from a major brand, you can contact them or an authorized dealer to ask about repairs or a replacement.
It’s an emergency, what else can I do?
A small elastic hair tie will probably work best in a pinch, followed by a rubber band or rolled up duct tape or a twisty tie from a bread bag. You can also find scrap leather and superglue a new loop. Other materials work too, you could sew or glue a new loop out of canvas or cloth. Painting it might help it match your band color, but be careful about paint or dyes wearing off on your strap.
One last option, if you have the tools to disconnect your strap, is to simply stop by a store and buy the cheapest strap you can find and take the loop off. Just make sure you buy a strap with a loop that moves freely along the band.
Tips for picking a new watch band loop:
- The width of your watch strap is measured in millimeters. Get out a ruler and measure it before buying a replacement loop to make sure it fits.
- A spring bar tool will help remove your strap or buckle if you need to. You can find cheap ones on Amazon. They’re equally useful for putting new straps on an old watch, so pick one up if you’re thinking about sprucing up your watch in the future.
- If the way your strap attaches to the watch or buckle looks nothing at all like the videos we’ve linked to, Google your watch to see if it uses a proprietary or unusual mechanism to connect the strap or buckle. You may have to glue a new loop on without taking off the watch band.
It’s never great when a nice watch sits unused because of a broken strap, so we hope our advice can help you get it fixed. Also check out our other guides:
- How to Safely Purchase a Watch Online
- List of reputable watch strap companies & brands
- Tools for Replacing A Watch Strap Or Band
- How to Pick Out The Right Watch Band For Your Watch
- 5 Tips For Picking Out A New Watch Band Or Strap
- The Complete Guide to the Orient Bambino Dress Watch
- Seiko SNK Watch Guide
- Seiko Presage Cocktail Time Guide
- How to Fix A Broken Loop On Your Watch Strap
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