Yes, You Need To Change Your Watch's Spring Bars

Yes, You Need To Change Your Watch's Spring Bars

Despite being integral to most watches' designs, spring bars often go overlooked. These spring-loaded telescoping cylinders are responsible for keeping the strap or bracelet on your watch, and therefore keeping your watch on your wrist. They also secure clasps/buckles to straps and bracelets.

If you haven’t yet fallen down the rabbit hole of swapping watch straps, you probably think about spring bars a healthy amount: never. Even if that’s the case, you should recognize the importance of spring bars; they’re the only thing preventing your watch from falling off of your wrist. Like all moving parts, spring bars require attention and maintenance, but luckily, this usually just means replacing them. But how often should you replace spring bars? Where can you get new ones? And which ones are right for your watch? Before answering these questions, I’d like to share what happens if you don’t change your spring bars.

A Cautionary Tale About Spring Bars

Allow me to share what just happened to me at my local watch repair shop. Seriously – I stopped in not 10 minutes ago on the way to the coffee shop where I’m writing this article. 

Silvana Skin Diver Watch

I recently purchased this Silvana skin diver from the 1960s (above). For a ~60 year old watch, it’s in remarkable condition. It keeps great time, the dial is gorgeous, the edges are sharp, etc. However, when I attempted to remove the watch’s bracelet, the spring bars wouldn’t budge. I used a traditional spring bar tool, calipers, razor blades – nothing worked. Keep in mind, I work for a watch strap company; I’ve changed my fair share of straps and dealt with some stubborn spring bars along the way. 

Silvana Dive Watch Spring Bars

Minutes ago, I watched my local watchmaker struggle to remove these frozen spring bars, swapping through tools and techniques just as I did. Halfway through, he turned to me and asked, “Skyler, why don’t you ever bring me anything easy?”. Sorry Joe. He told me that I’d have to leave the watch there, presumably in a drawer labeled ‘Skyler’s broken old watches’. The spring bars were so old and locked up that he’ll have to fashion a serrated blade to cut them out. This is what happens if you never change your spring bars.

How Often Should You Change Your Spring Bars?

So if 60 years is pushing it, how long can you actually go with one set of spring bars? I’ve heard people suggest changing them every 6-12 months, some quote every two years, and others say the service interval of your watch is just fine (usually 4-7 years). The truth is, it depends on how you wear your watch.

Rolex Spring Bars on Bracelet Back

Image Source: Collectors 1946

If your watch lives solely on a bracelet, you might be able to get away with swapping spring bars at the watch’s regular service interval. Most bracelet end links hug the spring bar, evenly displacing tension across the case and lugs (above). This is good livin’ for a spring bar. As long as you’re not changing straps and your bracelet has well-fit end links, your only real concern is dirt, corrosion, and subsequent “freezing” (like what happened to my Silvana). 

If you keep your watch on a non-integrated rubber, leather, or fabric strap, I recommend changing your spring bars at least once a year. Every time you tighten your strap, you’re putting tension on the spring bars (especially with NATOs and single-pass nylon). This may not be an issue on its own, but if you’re swapping straps with any regularity, you’re also putting the springs themselves through their paces. The more often you depress and extend your spring bars, the more often you should replace them.

What Spring Bars Are Right For Your Watch?

Spring bars come in all shapes and sizes, and just like straps, only some are compatible with any given watch. If you have a Rolex, you’re in luck. Everest offers spring bars compatible with Rolex’s most popular models – just visit our spring bar collection, find your model, and make sure it’s the right fit under the “COMPATIBLE WITH THESE WATCHES” menu on the product page.

If you’re unsure about what spring bars to get, I recommend Googling “spring bar size for insert watch model’. You’ll be presented with a bunch of numbers. Here’s what they mean.

Spring Bars on Various Watches

Image Source: ABlogtoWatch

The largest number, likely in the range of 16mm and 24mm, is the spring bar length. This should match your watch’s lug width. You’ll probably see one or two more numbers in the range of 0.4 and 2.5mm. These numbers represent thickness at two points: the spring bar’s widest point (often just called the “thickness”) and the spring bar’s tip. Thickness is important for bracelet end link compatibility. Tip thickness is important for lug hole compatibility. If this all sounds too complex, take your watch to a local watchmaker and they’ll get it sorted for you.

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