Watches with leather straps tend to deteriorate after a few years from sweat and moisture. If you wear such a watch and work daily in an air-conditioned office environment from clock-in to clock-out, the leather strap should last you a good 5 years at least.
I wear a leather-banded watch at the office, at the construction site, whilst travelling (this part of the region where I am at or frequently travel to is of a hot and humid climate!)…so it came as no surprise when the leather strap on my Maurice Lacroix Les Classiques Chronographe Automatique became worn and due for replacement in just slightly over one and a half years from brand new.
Crease lines and a tear in the outer layer on the inside surface of the leather band was beginning to show, and I didn’t want to risk having the watch fly off my wrist while walking outdoors or while riding on the motorcycle.
I looked online and decided this was the opportunity to replace the strap with the older Maurice Lacroix bands with the “m” emblem on it.
I found the exact one I needed on www.uhrband24.com and proceeded to order 2 sets (see below), each at a cost of €52 including VAT.
If you are buying from outside the EU, VAT is omitted upon payment checkout. Shipping and handling halfway across the world was very reasonable at €5.
I had also purchased a watch repair kit online (left, see links below), which was not really necessary as I had always used a jeweler’s screwdriver for band replacement work. I was anticipating some steel bracelet link work on my TAG Heuer Kirium Quartz Chronograph, and thought this was a good time to get a watch repair kit anyhow. Anyway, it’s best to work with proper watch repair tools.
Both the replacement leather bands and watch repair set arrived at about the same time, within 2 weeks more or less. The TAG Heuer became the daily watch during this waiting period. When the bands arrived, I didn’t wait for the next day to come. I replaced the leather band on the Maurice Lacroix that night itself. Replacing a leather watchband is not difficult, but care must be taken to prevent damage to any part of the watch. It takes about 10 minutes at most to complete.
The photos below show how the replacement work was done step-by-step.
Part A: Dismantling the Deployant Buckle (DB)
A1. The first thing to do is to remove the adjustable strap (the longer one with a series of holes) from the deployant buckle (DB). Push it out of the pin on the DB and slide it out, detaching it completely from the DB as shown.
A2. If you are new to this job, it would be advisable to first place some masking tape to the areas which we will be working on. In the photos above, you will see masking tape on parts of the watch where the spring bars are – at the DB and the watch case lug ends. Tape on the underside. If you’ve replaced watch straps before or feel confident enough, you may omit this step.
A3. Place the watch faced down on a soft cloth to protect the bezel and crystal, with the back facing up. We will be working from the back, so that any accidental damage on the case lugs whilst removing the spring bars would be on the underside where it is not conspicuous. We will also use a spring bar remover from the watch repair set.
A4. THIS is a spring bar remover. It looks like a jeweler’s screwdriver, but with a V-notch at the end tip. Makes removing spring bars easy…
A5. Fit the spring bar remover between the leather band and DB on either side as shown, and exert a downward force slightly whilst also pushing towards the band at the same time, in order to remove the spring bars which secures the band to the DB.
CAUTION: DO NOT USE THE EDGE OF THE DEPLOYANT BUCKLE OR CLASP AS A FULCRUM POINT FOR LEVERAGE OR YOU WILL RISK DAMAGE ON THE BUCKLE. USE A SIDEWAYS LATERAL ACTION. TOOL STEEL WILL ALWAYS BE OF GREATER HARDNESS THAN ANY STAINLESS STEEL PART OF YOUR WATCH!
Get It On eBay
A6. With the leather band coming loose on that end…
A7. Detach and remove the leather band from the DB. You can see the spring bar still lodged in its place at the strap end.
A8. Remove the spring bar and put it aside safely. Keep the spring bar for the DB separate as it is usually shorter than the spring bars on the watch case lugs which you will be removing next.
Part B: Removing the Existing Watch Leather Strap
B1. With the spring bar remover, do the same with the spring bars at the lug end of the watch case, as shown.
REMEMBER: DO NOT USE THE LUGS AS A FULCRUM POINT FOR LEVERAGE AS YOU’RE PRYING THE SPRING BARS LOOSE. THIS WILL DEFINITELY CAUSE IRREPARABLE DAMAGE IN THE FORM OF DENTS ON THE LUGS. ALWAYS USE A SIDEWAYS LATERAL ACTION.
B2. Detach and remove the leather band from the watch case.
B3. Remove the spring bar as before. You may use the opposite end of the spring bar remover to push the spring bar out of the leather band.
B4. I will now use a jeweler’s screwdriver to remove the band on the other side of the watch case, to show that a commonly available jeweler’s screwdriver is equally fit for spring bar removal. In fact, I am more comfortable with this as I had lots of practice using the jeweler’s screwdriver and replacing rubber straps on many Casio digital watches in the 1980s!
B5. Proceed to remove the spring bars and leather band on this side of the watch case. All it takes is a slight downward force and a firm push towards the band to dislodge the spring bar. Remember NOT to use the lug for leverage!
Part C: Fitting on the Deployant Buckle to the New Leather Strap
C1. Remove the new replacement leather band from its packaging.
C2. Flip the leather band around and study its form. Nearly all watch bands taper, with the wider end on the lug side and the narrow end on the DB side. In this case, the dimensions are 20 mm and 18 mm respectively. Do note this, as it is important for the next step.
C3. Grab hold of the shorter leather band and push the DB spring bar removed earlier into the narrower width end of the band. Squeeze the other spring bar into the wider end of the leather band as well.
C4. Use the spring bar tool to push the spring bars through if necessary. Ensure that they sit in the centre, with both ends of the spring bar visible from both sides of the leather band.
C5. On the narrow side of the shorter band, push one end of the spring bar into the designated hole on the DB, and with the spring bar tool or jeweler’s screwdriver, do the reverse of what was done earlier during removal of the spring bar. Push the other end of the spring bar into the leather band and gently position the band into the slot on the DB. Wiggle and move that end around slightly until the spring bar finds its way into its rightful hole in the DB with a click.
C6. Hold the DB with one hand and the leather band with the other and give them a gentle but firm tug, to make sure that the connection is secure before proceeding. The end result should be as shown above. Make sure that you have the DB installed on the correct side. Tip: Study its closed form before reattaching the DB if necessary.
Part D: Fitting on the New Leather Strap and Completing the Assembly
D1. Next, attach the leather band to the watch case. Make sure that the band goes to the correct side of the watch. The shorter band with the DB should go to the 12 o’clock side of the watch lugs, as shown above.
D2. As had done for the DB, position one end of the spring bar into the lug…
D3. …and work the other end of the spring bar into the other lug with the tool. Notice that I have removed the masking tape, but you may leave them on if you feel the lugs still need protection from damage.
D4. Wiggle and move the strap end around slightly until the spring bar finds its way into the lug hole with a click.
D5. Flip the watch around, swivel the band around and give it a slight tug to ensure that the connection is secure. The last thing you would want happen is for the watch case to detach itself from the band accidentally.
D6. Insert the last spring bar into the longer leather band and proceed to do the same as before. Insert one end into one side of the lug.
D7. Use the tool to depress the spring bar and slide the band into its place on the other side of the lug…
D8. …and wiggle and move it around until it clicks into its place.
D9. As always, give the assembly a gentle but firm tug to make sure all connections are secure.
D10. Finally, slide the end of the longer band into the DB, until the desired fit is achieved.
D11. With the appropriate fit set, push the pin on the DB into the nearest hole on the leather band, as shown above.
D12. And there you go – replacing a leather watch band accomplished!