The basic tool for changing a watch band is called a spring bar tool, also called a strap removal tool, or a Burgeon tool, after the Swiss company that makes them. It looks like a pencil, with a metal fork on one end to pinch the spring bar while you apply pressure, and a pin on the other end to push out spring bars or bracelets on watches or buckles that have holes all the way through (drilled lugs). Most nice spring bar tools are well machined and come with removable ends for different size forks.

For basic beginners who are not looking to spend too much money, we recommend the BARTON Spring Bar Tool. At around $11 it’s inexpensive, it has a built-in ruler for measuring the width between your lugs (so you know what size band to buy) and it will hold up relatively well.

Cheaper options are available as well, examples here and here, although they might not hold up as well long-term.

Lastly, you can go Swiss and buy a Burgeon for about $21. It has removable tips available in fine or standard sizes and will hold up exceptionally well over time. You’ll have to find your own ruler (shouldn’t be too hard).

Other manufacturers:

Crown and Buckle – Watch Strap Tools

Hodinkee Tools

Alternatives – How to change a strap without a spring bar tool

If you don’t have a spring bar tool available and you really need to change a tool you can use a very small knife or a small screwdriver. Every time you do it a watch enthusiast will die a little inside. But if it’s your only option and you really want to change a strap, we say go for it. Better to have a watch being used than sitting in a drawer gathering dust with a broken strap. Just don’t scratch the lugs.

Also check out our other guides:

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