As a rule, metal bracelets of Swiss watches are manufactured with a reserve length, to fit big wrists. At the same time, producers provide the opportunity to shorten them to the desired size. To do that you can address any watchmaker. But you can shorten a metal bracelet yourself. For this you need to understand its design and pick up proper tools.
First of all, the bracelet should be put on a soft cloth. Firstly, it will protect it from getting accidental scratches during all the operations. Secondly, small parts that will be removed during the process won’t be lost.
It is especially easy to shorten the bracelet, if the clasp’s design provides that. Such clasp has a few extra holes. You should simply move the rod attaching the edge of the bracelet into hole located closer to the middle of the clasp. This can be done with help of a thin tool or even a pin. But it is better to use non-metallic sharp object such as a toothpick, to avoid scratches. The diameter of the instrument must be less than the diameter of the rod.
Press the tip of the rod with the tool and pull the end of the bracelet from the clasp. This must be done carefully, because the rod can bounce and fly away in an unknown direction. Complete extracting of the rod is not necessary, as a rule. It would be enough that it juts out a little on the opposite side of the bracelet. Set this lengthened end into a suitable socket, press, if necessary, the opposite end by the tool and place it in the right hole. If the rod is springy, so being put into its place it will produce a characteristic click. Pull the bracelet and the clasp to make sure that the rod sits firmly in the holes.
Adjusting the length of the bracelet with the clasp is an easy task and usually does not cause difficulties. But it allows you to shorten the length of the bracelet just a little, within a few millimeters, in order to fit the wrist. If that's not enough, or the clasp has a different design not providing length adjustment, a metal bracelet can be shortened by removing a few links.
First of all, you need to determine which links can be removed. To do this, place the watch on a flat surface and straighten the bracelet. The surfaces of the watch case and of the clasp should be parallel to each other. If the clasp is shifted, wearing the watch would be less comfortable. Therefore, the links are to be extracted symmetrically, on each side. And if some part of the bracelet was originally longer it can be shortened. What links it is better to remove depends on the design of the bracelet. Their absence should not distort its proportions. In most cases it is better to remove the links from the middle or closer to the clasp, but not attached to the watch case.
Typically, the links of the bracelet are connected in one of three ways:
- by rods or studs that can be removed or knocked out;
- by removable plates;
- by screws that can be unscrewed.
In the first case, you will need all the same you applied while working with the clasp. The difference is that the rod can be removed fully out of the through hole. If the rod sits in the hole tightly, it is recommended to put the nut under the lower end to make it easier to press. It is also recommended to move the adjacent links apart, it facilitates the task. When the tip of the rod is seen on the opposite side, you can continue removing it with tweezers or pliers.
If the rod has a stud shape that is one of its ends has a head and the second one is sharp, you need to press it out of the pointed end. The location of ends can be easily determined by eye: the sharp end is planted deeper.
The plates are also removable, but not from the end of the bracelet, but through a special hole on the inner side. Some bracelets have arrows engraved; they show the direction in which you should press the plates out. Such arrows can be also found on the bracelets with studs.
In order to remove the screw, it is better to use a special tool, a watch screwdriver. On its rear side it has a head that rotates freely relative to the handle. This allows you pushing the screwdriver into the head of screw strongly, and it will not stall when rotating. It is necessary to pick up the screwdriver, the width of which corresponds to the threading of the screw. If it is narrower, so it can damage the threading; being wider it can scratch the edges of the hole. Considering the fact that Swiss watches bracelets are made of precious metals, usually from different sorts of gold, making scratches on it is not desirable. It is best to use Kevlar screwdriver, which will not leave traces on the screws.
It is quite convenient to use the watch screwdriver. Take it with the thumb and index finger, resting the rear end with the rotating cylinder against the ball under your index finger. Insert the sharp edge into the screw thread exactly perpendicular and in the centre, than rotate the screwdriver counterclockwise with fingers, so that the head resting against the palm remains motionless. As a rule, screws are twisted tight enough and treated with a sealant at Swiss factories. Therefore, to unscrew them you should first make some effort.
To remove one link, you need to extract either two or four adjacent studs or screws, depending on the design of the bracelet. If the bracelet consists of several rows, you need to remove the element from each row and connect the remaining links, just restoring the pattern of their interweaving. So, if your bracelet has five rows, so you need to remove five links. Links of extreme lines are usually a little thicker than of internal and may have some other configuration; it is important not to confuse them.
After removing the excess link connect the bracelet by attaching the vacant units to each other. If they are connected by a stud, so insert its sharp end in the direction it was located, so that the general line is not confused. If links are attached by screws, so before tightening it moisten their tips with sealant for durability.
The extracted links must be carefully picked and put together; neither they nor it mounts should be lost, for you may need all that in the future.