How to Remove Folded Watch Links

Getting your first automatic watch is like a rite of passage. Sizing your own folded link bracelet, even more so.

Watch bracelets with folded links like that of the Seiko 5 can be tricky to size if you don’t know what you’re doing.

It’s a slightly tedious process, but knowing how will let you skip a trip to the jeweler and save a few bucks in the process. 

In this tutorial, I’ll be showing you step-by-step how to size a folded link bracelet.

What is a Folded Link Bracelet?

A folded link bracelet is a metal watch bracelet made from a series of folded metal links. They usually have a thin metal sheet inside that can be removed with the help of a flat headed screwdriver. They’re relatively cheap to manufacture and are usually found on affordable watches.

Tools required:

  1. Spring bar tool
  2. Flathead screwdriver
  3. Pliers/tweezers
  4. Jeweler’s mallet
  5. Microfiber cloth or any soft surface (a towel will do)

How To Remove Folded Watch Links

Time needed: 15 minutes.

  1. Remove springbar from the clasp.

    Removing the spring bar pin from the clasp allows you easy access the back of the watch and the bracelet links. 

    It takes no more than a few seconds with any spring bar tool.

    I’m using the Bergeon 6767 from Amazon, but any spring bar tool from a cheap watchmaker’s toolkit will get the job done just as well. 

    Simply take the blunt end of the spring bar tool, insert it into the micro adjustment clasp and push down while pulling the bracelet away from the clasp. 

    Be sure to keep your hand cupped around the clasp, to avoid letting your spring bar fly away. Jumpy little thangs!

  2. Lay the watch facedown.

    Pretty self-explanatory.

    I recommend laying down something soft like a microfiber cloth or even a towel to rest the watch’s face on. 

    This will avoid any unnecessary scratches on the watch case or crystal when you go to remove the links.

  3. Use flathead screwdriver to push the link inserts out.

    Use the directional arrow engraved on the link to determine which way you’re going to be pushing the link insert.

    Take your flat head screwdriver and insert it in the little gap between the metal piece inserted in the link, and the link itself.

    You want to use the widest screwdriver that can fit in the gap. The size will vary depending on the particular watch bracelet.

    For my Seiko SNXS79K bracelet, I had best results using a 1.2mm screwdriver. 

    Push the screwdriver in the gap as deep as you can, and use down and outward pressure to leverage the screwdriver against the bracelet link in the same direction of the arrow.

  4. Pull and loosen link insert out with pliers.

    Once you’ve got the link insert out, at least partially, you can use pliers or tweezers to loosen it or pull it out all the way once you’ve gotten past a certain point.

    Once you’ve pulled it out a little and loosened it up, go back to step #3 and repeat the process with the flathead screwdriver again. 

    It should be easier to push the link insert out this time around. 

    Once the raised ‘bump’ makes it past the bracelet link, you should be able to pull the link out from here using just your fingers.

    You can use the pliers again if your fingers aren’t cutting it.

  5. Repeat steps 3-4 for as many links as you need removed.

    Remove the link inserts, as instructed, for as many links as necessary for you to fit the bracelet to your wrist. 

  6. Remove loose links between the inserts.

    If you need multiple links removed on one side, you’ll need to remove the links between the inserts. 

    This can easily be done by sliding the link out of the gap. 

    Do not try to ‘brute force’ the links out, no extra force should be necessary as they should slide right out.

  7. Evaluate. Is it the right size for your wrist?

    Without putting the links back just yet, throw it on your wrist so you can get a general idea of the sizing and make sure it fits properly.

    Still too loose? Remove more links.

    Too tight? Add some back.

  8. Put link inserts back.

    Once you’ve decided the watch is properly sized for you, time to put the link inserts back.

    Simply reverse the process of removing them, making sure the raised bump faces the same way it did when removing it.

    Push the link in the same side you removed it from, this time going opposite of the arrow engraved into the link.

  9. Push the link inserts all the way into the bracelet.

    Once the link inserts are in a bit, it can be difficult to push them all the way using just your hands.

    If you’re struggling, placing the watch’s link inserts facedown into a microfiber cloth or towel.

    Use the rubber side of the jeweler’s mallet to hammer the link into place.

    The palm of your free hand should work also, pressing down on the bracelet, against the table, with a little bit of extra force. 

    NOTE: It’s easier to insert the link insert if you squeeze the two links together, rather than having them loosely dangle apart.

  10. Insert springbar back into clasp and close the bracelet.

    Take the spring bar that was in the clasp and fit it through the end of the bracelet. 

    Fit one end of the spring bar into a hole in the micro adjustment clasp. Use the flat headed screwdriver or the spring bar tool to push the spring bar down and underneath the other side of the clasp.

  11. Check for security.

    Give the watch a gentle tug by the microadjustment clasp, the links you adjusted and any other part of the watch you may have tampered with.

    Sometimes we may overlook a loose springbar or link. 

    It’s better to find out about that now, rather than when you’re wearing the watch, and having it fall off your wrist. 

  12. Enjoy your newly fitted and properly sized folded link bracelet!

    There you have it! Your new watch is sized and ready to go. 

Hope this tutorial on how to size your folded link bracelet helped you size your brand new mechanical watch!

Still struggling? Check out this full video tutorial:

If you have any questions, any at all, leave a comment down below!

2 thoughts on “How to Remove Folded Watch Links”

Leave a Comment