Howto: Resize Your Own Watch

I haven’t put too many posts up here that are actually helpful to anyone else in any way, so I thought I should start working on that. This may or may not be helpful to anyone either, but what the heck, I already had the pictures…

Disclaimer: I am not a jewelry / watch expert, and in fact know next to nothing about them. What I present here worked for me, but I make no claim that it will work for you and take no responsibility for your actions and any damage they may cause. 🙂


So why am I resizing a watch band, of all things? Well, my parents bought me a Seiko watch for Christmas during my senior year of high school, which I like very much. Unfortunately, wearing it for several years (and drumming with it on) popped one of the hands off one of the smaller dials, and that hand now rattles around freely under the crystal, frequently getting stuck under other dials and jamming the watch up:

Note the alarm dial (bottom) of the old watch is missing a minute hand, which is located upside down jamming its second hand (left dial).

After sending it off to Seiko for a repair estimate ($162), we decided it wasn’t worth the money to repair, as it would be better spent toward the purchase of a new watch. Fast-forward several months, and I find my very same watch on for $105 (no longer available). I was pretty excited to have a chance to get it fixed, so I bought it. Fast-forward another week or so, and my new watch arrives. Three sizes too large for my wrist. Oops.

And so, here we are.


  • Resize a watch band of the “pin-and-link” type seen above.
  • Avoid fees to have it resized at the mall
  • Avoid damage by the inept worker at the Younkers jewelry department


  • Pentel 0.5mm mechanical pencil tips
  • Thumbtacks
  • 1″ Brad
  • Light hammer


  1. First, take a close look at your watch and determine how many links need to be removed, and from which sides of the clasp. Keep in mind that you should try to balance the removed links from both sides, or the clasp will end up on the edge of your wrist instead of the back.
    I had this step easy, as the old watch was fitted correctly to my wrist already as a model. In my case, I needed to remove 3 links total: 2 from one side of the clasp and 1 from the other.
  2. The next step is to determine exactly which links you will need to remove to accomplish this, and which pins hold them in place. Generally, you will need to remove 2 pins (one from each end of the link(s) you will remove), and then replace 1 to rejoin the watch band.
  3. Removing and inserting these pins without a commercial tool for doing so is the tricky part, and why I am writing this Howto. So, on to the pins:
  4. On my Seiko, I started by removing one of the pins on the links near the clasp, in the direction indicated by the small engraved arrow:
  5. One method to remove these pins uses the tip from a 0.5mm mechanical pencil. Remove the tip and place it point up on a solid surface. Then press the watch down, aligning the pin with the pencil tip’s metal shroud. Apply force as vertically and firmly as possible.
    This was the first method I tried, and though it worked for two of the pins I needed to remove, it destroyed 3 mechanical pencils by pushing the metal shroud into the tip. For this reason, I do not recommend this method.
  6. A second method is to use a thumbtack. Place the tack point-upward on a sold surface. Very carefully align the watch pin on the tip of the tack and press downward firmly. It is very important to keep the watch aligned so that you are always pushing directly into the pin, not at any angle. If you are not careful, the watch will slip off the pin, and if you’re like me, you’ll stab the pin a full quarter inch into the tip of your finger.
    Despite the increased danger in this method, I found it to be the most effective, and though I did destroy another few tacks in the process, I was able to remove the remainder of my pins relatively easily.
  7. Once all the pins are removed, you simply rejoin the remaining watch band pieces by reinserting pins as necessary. This is the second significant challenge.
  8. When reinserting the pins, it worked best for me to insert them in the opposite direction I had removed them in. I attempted to insert the pin in the direction of the arrow the first time around, pushing the “bulge” in the pin through first, with the result of destroying the pin:
  9. It is possible to push the pin nearly all the way back in just by hand and pressing the watch against a table, but replacing the pin the last 1/16″ proved trickier. You would like to reposition the pin as it originally was, to minimize the risk that it will fall out.
  10. The best method I found for recessing the pin back to its original position was to tap it lightly with a hammer, via a nail. Place the watch on a solid board or edge of a table so that the edge of the watchband rests solidly on the surface. Then align a small brad (I used a 1″) with the stub of the pin sticking out, and rap it lightly with a hammer as shown:
  11. Repeat for all pins that you need to remove and replace to adjust the watch size.
  12. And that’s it!

    Finished watch, down to size with minimal scratches.

    Total bill of materials:

    • 3 mechanical pencil tips
    • several thumbtacks
    • one watch pin
    • one stabbed finger

113 thoughts on “Howto: Resize Your Own Watch

  1. Kate.

    Dear Colin,
    Howto: Resize Your Own Watch made me fall in love with you a little bit. Keep up being one of the coolest people I know.

  2. Kid Solvent

    Excellent. I googled “resize watch” and got your article. Daughter got El Cheapo KMart $10 watch and needed it sized. Needless to say you saved me money and frustration.
    Used the hammer and pencil tip to great effect.

  3. GottaGift

    really appreciate you blog. I was wondering what the arrows meant.
    My Tool-Kit; Needle nose pliers, Some Tape, a Pin from a Picture Hanger, and one of them nut crackers that looks like a dentist tool.

    The pin is about an ince long and has a sort of tiny brass knob on it. Also, the pin has a shapr point but the overall, it is a larger diameter than the Watch Pin. (the picture hanger is one of those nickel sized metal hook with adhesive backing, The Pin from it is intended to anchor it to the wall.)

    Place your tool pin in the needle nose pliers and use tape to hold the pliers shut. Set the pliers on a coffee table and hold them in place with your foot ( i swear this is how the jewelers do it!) Set your watch band target pin on the tool pin, the arrows should be facing up. Pushing down on the watch band with about 10-15 pounds of pressure, the watch pin will pop up a tiny bit. Grab the no loosened pin in your fingertips and pull out. Really simple.

    reassemble the watch without the missing link, place watch pin back just like you pulled it out, and firmly set pin using the Dentist tool. (more common, you might use the file found on most Fingernail Clippers.)

  4. Ian

    cheers… didnt have the pro tools that i saw on other websites, came here and sorted it with a thumbtack 😉
    nice 1

  5. Wayne

    This is a perfect axample of the net being useful… Man do I ever appreciate your page…Thanks to you I was able to size the watch I bought my wife for christmas…Thanks again….

  6. Diane

    thank you for the info. OMG you saved me so much money and time and headaches. My husband couldn’t get any of his tools to work. I googled and found your info. I used a thumb tack and ….voila. Thank you. That was amazing. I can now wear my fossil watch I got for Christmas.

  7. Brian

    This worked for me. Cost 3 bent thumbtacks. One of the pins bent when I tried to put it back in, but it bent back straight with some needle-nose pliers. Now I can wear the watch I recieved last Christmas.

  8. sammy

    Bravo. I’ve resized a couple of watchbands using different techniques–I’m cheap and a control junkie–and will add yours to my list. A cautionary note: I learned the hard way that on some watches, the pins actually unscrew and you can get into a bit of trouble if you start trying to bang one of those out.

  9. Richard

    I can only echo the other posters. I bought a Fossil watch and they even advertise their “Smart Links”, but nowhere in the booklet or on the Fossil site can you find an explanation on how to properly resize it.

    Thanks for this very useful post.

  10. Steve

    Thank you!!! I’m a college student and just got a watch off ebay, I was worried about how I was going to get it sized seeing as how I live on campus and don’t have a car, but your advice with the pin (along with the numerous cautions) worked wonderfully. Thanks again!

  11. Diana Fabregas

    Thank u sooo much! I had bought an Ed Hardy watch a couple of weeks back and hadn’t been able to resize it and couldn’t figure out how to. This was sooo helpful. A couple of tacks later and BAM! there it was…lol. You rooockk!!!

  12. Attila from Hungary

    Thank you very much, it did help! I had no loss, I needed only one metallic pencil tip, which is still working.

    Attila from Hungary

  13. Joe

    So glad I googled before taking my watch to the jewler! Great advice! Although, the pin did stick in the side of my finger too.

  14. JS

    excellent stuff….was able to resize a Paul Frank watch in under a minute with a .7mm mechanical pencil tip which I didn’t even have to unscrew and which still works. Thanks for this helpful post!

  15. Seluryar

    thank you for your tutorial, my brother game me his old watch today, but it was a little loose around the wrist, it needs a battery as well, but your site is the first i clicked on to see if i can resize this watch myself, and guess what? it worked, i successfully resized my watch, thank you for saving me the trouble of taking this watch to a jeweler 🙂

  16. Lauren

    Thank you SO much!! Your tips worked perfectly and saved me time and $$. A thumbtack was too big in diameter, so I pushed a sewing needle into an eraser (to keep it vertical) and pushed the eye end in. It worked like a charm and couldn’t have been easier.

    Great photos, too! I will think of you whenever I wear this watch.

  17. K'leigh

    Thank you!!!! I was desperately trying to resize my fossil watch, and nothing was working. The push pin idea was brilliant! Since the push pin couldn’t push it all the way out (a little too thick), I bent a paperclip to push it the rest of the way. It worked perfectly!

  18. David

    Thanks! Pencil tip worked great. I bought a $5 watch on the street and didn’t want to pay more than the cost of the watch just to get it resized.

  19. Cearus

    Thanks it helped. Turns out the pins in my watch are smaller than my pencil tips, and tacks, I used a vise clamp to hold a sewing needle – but same basic idea.

  20. Mel

    Thank you! I had gotten a watch last Christmas that was too big, but I am too cheap to pay some to resize it. With your directions I got it done myself! I too had to use a sewing needle, as the push pins I had available were too big.

  21. Russ S

    Thanks for your write-up. I was able to resize my new Seiko watch with only a reinforced push-pin (the ones with plastic around them). We should all send you 50% of what it would’ve cost to take our watches somewhere…

  22. Carole

    Thank you so much! I received a Seiko from hubby for Chirstmas. I looked an numerous sites trying to do the band resizing myself. I had just about given up and found your instructions. Bingo! You walked me right through it and it fits perfectly. Thank you so much!

  23. Sano

    Thanks. Got my Fossil with the opposing arrows done.

    AFA the bent pins, one could try to straighten them. Similar to the way a carpenter straightens a nail, roll it and tap the high spot until it’s better. 😉

  24. tirk

    thanks. a huge headache saver. i used some of those colored pushpins which are similar to thumbtacks. worked great.

    TIP: if you have a set of allen wrenches, inserting the pin back in the phone will be much easier. use one of the larger wrenches and just push the remaining end of the pin through. shouldnt take much effort at all.

  25. Shane

    Excellent! I just received a new Invicta Sea Wizard this weekend and couldn’t wear it because the bracelet was too large. I knew it couldn’t be rocket science to remove a link, and your post proved to be exactly what I needed. I used a thumbtack to remove two pins (no bends, no blood), and a standard workman’s claw hammer to very gently tap the one pin back in. Great fit! Thanks for the info, Colin.

  26. Street Horologist

    Colin M:

    Thanks for the very informative tips….I was able to resize my band..and only bent one pin (strictly because I got a little cocky and didn’t pay attention to the direction of the arrow when reversing or reinstalling the pin…My Bad!)

    Your blog was not only helpful but well written and humorous. Your instruction to place the tack on the table and to push the watch band down was invaluable and may have helped me accomplish my task without injury or any messy bloodletting. FYI….In lieu of a tack, I elected to use a push pin with a very small portion of the tip removed (to provide a flatter tip in an effort to reduce slippage and scratching). To stabilize the push pin in a vertical position, I drilled out a hole in a 3/4″ x 2-1/2″ pencil eraser, just the right size to hold the push pin.

    Thanks again.



  27. Howtokite Guy

    Interesting post and thanks for sharing. Some things in here I have not thought about before.
    I’m going to bookmark this page so I can return and keep reading.

  28. zeiss

    one more tip: if you take off the clasp, make sure you keep track of which way it goes! either compare it to the image above, or look at another watch, or mark it (nonpermanently)

  29. Ken

    Great tips in here. I got this watch as a gift, but with the three-day weekend, I would not have been able to wear it until next week.

  30. Jeni

    My life was a mess until I found this. Now that I can resize my own watches I feel like an angel is watching over me.


  31. Mike

    Awesome. I used the tack, pliers and some masking tape (to protect the pin when pulling).

    I have a Seiko as well and after many years of good use, I have to resize again.

    The first resizing when I originally got it was an ordeal and put off getting it resized for several years. The first time the guy wanted to charge me $12.99 to resize, but I talked him down to $8. When I picked it up and it wasn’t ready he turned around and took about 30 seconds and then asked for $10. I said what happened to the $8, he told me $8.99 plus tax was just short of $10. I said no way we had a deal for $8, and wasnt returning my watch until I gave him $10. Long story short we went back and forth and I threaten to call the police if they didnt return my watch, the jewelers wife stepped in and took my $8 and I got my watch.

    I took my watch to the mall to get resized one shop wanted $12.99 and another after looking at the brand said $24.99, wtf. I found your site after googling, “cost resize watch links”, and have my watch back on my wrist.

  32. Ty

    I came upon your site as I had just purchased a new Fossil watch. It gave me some good tips but all I used was a push pin and a pair of tweezers. Took me about 10 minutes and I just pushed the pins back in flush against a desk without having to use a Brad nail and hammer.

  33. ab

    Just bought a Pulsar for my wife and she loved the watch but your posting here helped the most as the watch would have been useless without her being able to wear it tonight itself.

  34. Ed

    THANK YOU. I bought a Seiko watch but never got the chance to get it resized. I was trying all week to figure a way to get the pins out. The only thing thin enough was a paper clip. I was just about to quit and look for a shop to get it done. Then I saw your guide and found a thumb tack in my roommates room. It was ez as pie to get the pins out.

  35. Jim

    I just resized my wife’s new fossil watch. The secret for me seemed to be plenty of lubrication. I dropped some oil onto each pin that needed to be removed, and let it work down inside the pinholes. Then I pushed the pins out with a blunted push pin. Reinserting the pins was even easier.

  36. Ton

    WOW! Seriously tried everything to push those pins in but the nail was genius. Great help, you saved me some time. Thanks again!

  37. Canuck

    DARN IT! Found you website just after buying a tool from e-bay! the 5mm mechanical pencil tip worked for my Citizen Ecodrive and is still alive. I used the body of a hard plastic pen to push the pin back in. For others, note the arrow is the direction you push the pin OUT. To put it back in do the reverse, insert the pin in the correct orientation in the hole it came OUT of (the non arrow hole).

    Check out this site for better descriptions on the different types of pins used in watches and what the arrows mean.

  38. Andrew B

    The pushpin method works great, no pricked fingers and no damage to the watch. To push the pins back in that last little bit I just pressed against a table and that worked very well.

  39. Nick M

    Thank you so much! Just reading a success story gave me the ambition to try it for myself. I used a push pin instead of a thumb tack and everything worked flawlessly. I found that it really helped to push the pin out just enough to protrude from the the other side, then use nail clippers (stay with me here) to pull it out. The grasp with the clippers was the perfect mix of strong put precise grasp to stay on the pin, but not damage it by pulling it out. Thanks again!

  40. pureluck

    Thanks for the tips. Just knowing that the pins go all the way through was a big help. I used a T-pin and a small hammer to tap the pins out just enough to grab with needle nose pliers. The pliers were used again to put them back in, instead of tapping. Just put pressure inwards and twist a little until the end of the pin finds the hole it fits in. It’s now a snap to add or remove links.

  41. J. Sharp

    Thank you so much! I just took three links out of my new Allude watch, and it only took about ten minutes after I found a compass to push the pins out. The corner of my laptop worked fine to put them back, no scratches, pricked fingers, or bent pins. I had no idea there were even arrows in the band, so thanks again!

  42. MNgrandma

    Thank you-the last time I did this, there was a spring inside the pin- I had no idea why I couldn’t push the spring in using a large needle. I felt bad that my grandaughter had put the watch away, after she gave up on me. I stored the extra links with a thumb tack. Thanks again-it was appreciated.

  43. DP

    The procedure outlined here is very simple and I was able to take those links out in no time. The thumbnail step was the one and only I followed. Also when you are putting the links back, insert it in the opposite direction to the arrow and press it down against a hard surface. Thanks.

  44. Marc

    I just resized a Fossil clasp style band.

    There are little arrow markings on the links with removable pins, and in this case they pointed in both
    directions. Some bands point in just one direction, therefore the pins have to be pushed out as indicated.

    Making a tool to push the link pins was easy, I took a metal push pin from my bulletin board and snipped off the point with a wire cutter, then filed off the burrs, making i nice and flat. The link pins took a solid push to loosen and then I pulled them out on the other side with a small pair of pliers. Wasn’t hard, and replacing the pins just took a careful alignment and some gentle taps from the flat side of the pliers.

  45. Marty

    Thanks so much for putting this out there. Now that I finally understand how these type of watch bands work it’s a piece of cake!

  46. RM

    I just did a Fossil Clasp band. The arrows point both ways as they can be pushed out either way, The nail clipper trick worked very nicely. I pushed them back in with standard pliers. Thanks!

  47. Sneaky

    Thanks a lot!! Worked just fine with my fossil (it had arrows pointing both directions)!! Was done in 5 mins!!

  48. Krysann

    I tried every method on every website and this was the only helpful information…It worked with my husband’s Fossil watch and took no time at all!!! Thanks so much!!

  49. Eileen

    Thanks, perfect. I can finally wear the watch I’ve had lying around for almost a year. Four thumbtacks and one stabbed finger.

  50. mxb

    Great advice and pictures. I trimmed the end of a pushpin off to blunt it, as recommended by Gabe. I also drilled a 1/8″ diameter hole into a small block from a 2×4 to serve as the base. So I set the watchband on edge on the 2×4, with the to-be-extracted watchband pin over the drilled hole. I was able to use the pushpin to push the watchband pin out of the band, and down into the hole. No fingers stabbed. 🙂

    I also found that re-inserting the pins in the opposite direction as you extracted them worked better in some cases.

    …then I discovered that to remove three links from my wife’s watch band, I really needed to remove two from one side of the clasp, and one from the other. Went fine. Thanks again!

  51. Richard

    Nice post. Good work on the close-up pictures too! I was able to resize my band on the first try, and I did it faster than the associate at the store and with less scratches. Thanks again!

  52. Anonymous

    This is awesome! I fitted my new watch in 7 minutes with a push pin and nail clippers… i couldnt find the neddlenose pliers so i just used the nail clippers like the other person said to try to use. This saved me$ 15.00 at the watch place and 1 hour driving there and back. Thanks again!!

  53. Angela S.

    I just purchased an Invicta ladies watch and what worked perfectly for me was corn cob holders…the little ones that you poke into the ends of the corn on the cob? The little metal pokey ends fit perfectly…. whatever you use only has to be big enough to pop out the pin a little on the other end. Crazy! We did get somewhere with the tacks but I was afraid of stabbing myself, haha : ) Thanks for the great post!

  54. John O

    Awesome! It worked like a charm! I was able to use a thumb tack for the pin removal, and used a set of regular pliers to pull the pins completly out. I just used a table to push the pins back in. I used a small screwdriver (philips head) to push the end of the pin in completly (the point on the small philips head screwdriver was the perfect size) and they snapped in with ease. You can also use the pliers to push the pin back in instead of the table – but be careful you don’t scuff your watch. Thanks again for the detailed instructions.

  55. matty-o

    thanks for the quick and easy guide! 8-10 $ to get it sized at the local watch shop?yeah right, never again !

  56. Anonymous

    Thanks for the advice! I used a blunted (filed down) thumbtack. the trick was to find one that was thin enough.
    I really appreciate the pictures — it makes all the difference!

  57. Dr. Rod Sparks

    All this advice was point on. My pins had little 1mm screw slots and looked like they needed to be unscrewed, but I just pushed them out with a cornholder and nail clipper, and was done in 3 minutes. This was GREAT! THANKS!

  58. Dave

    Thanks a bunch for this article! It was extremely helpful, and I really enjoyed resizing the watch myself vs. taking it to some yahoo who may or may not know what they are doing. Here are a few extra tips:
    – Keep a ziploc bag around to put all the parts and tools in for next time.
    – Keep the *extra* links and pins in case yours break.
    – Be careful not to hammer the thumbtack in too far. You only need the very tip to go in the hole in order to dislodge the pin. My thumbtacks got stuck pretty quickly, so I had to be really really gentle to find the sweet spot.
    – I used two nails to put the pins back in. I filed off the tip of one so it was easier to start the pin, then used the pointed one to finish, this method basically made 0 scratches on the watch.
    – Use a cutting board to elevate the band while you’re working on it so you don’t hurt the crown, and are not hammering against the watch itself.

    I think that’s about everything I learned from doing this. Great guide! Thanks again.

  59. Bryce

    I found a large paper clip and tried it. I had no problem and it took about 60 seconds to remove two links (same side) and push the pin back in. Thanks for the helpful idea. I was going to buy another watchband, duh..

  60. David

    I also just stabed my thumb like a quarter inch, but with a sowing needle. I nearly fainted. The sight of my own blood does not sit well with me.

  61. Alex

    Great directions. I followed the materials (including a stabbed finger). A push pin seemed to work better than thumbtacks but great directions. Thanks!

  62. Z

    Wow, great instructions…took me literally 2 minutes to resize my watch, saving $ and time I would otherwise spend driving to and from a jewelry repair store.

  63. HM

    So are the links with arrows the only ones that can be removed? I have a Fossil with non-metal links which I think are plastic. One of the links ajoining the face of the watch has broken off across the channels for the pin so that it won’t remain in the channel. I saved my extra links from when I first bought the watch but would need to remove this pin with no arrow and replace it with one with arrows (the marked ones have an arrow in each direction).

  64. jimmy

    got fake rolex. only certain amount of links ca be removed. and its still to big. is there some kind of accessorie. to shorten more. please

  65. MRP

    Very helpful, THANKS

    One added idea is that the clasp as adjustment holes also, anyway my Citizen clasp had four holes and a spring pin. All I had to was pop out the pin, move it into the right hole and click, I was done.

  66. Bownze

    Thanks a million. Was able to resize my son’s Fossil watch I bought him for Christmas. Used an eyeglass screwdriver and the plastic handle of a second screwdriver to tap the pins out. Needed needlenose pliers to pull the pins free. Then used the plastic handle screwdriver to tap pins back in. Worked perfectly, and no stabbed fingers! Thanks!

  67. Holli Johnson

    Thanks so much! This worked great for me….I couldn’t find a push pin, so I used my scrabooking “Piercing” tool to get the pin started out, a paper clip to push it out farther, and then a small pair of needlenose pliers to pull it out completely! Used a hammer to tap it back in, just like you recommended. I really appreciate you taking the time to post this helpful set of instructions! 🙂

  68. Rashida

    Thanks a lot. My friend have me a watch for my birthday 2 years ago and now I can finally wear it. I used the to of a dart to push the pins out. Worked perfectly!!

  69. Harry Metske

    Excellent tip, using the thumbtacks (or punaises as we say in Dutch) was key to the operation.
    I resized the clamp of my Seiko Kinetic in just 10 minutes.

    Thanks for the excellent description.

    Harry Metske

  70. juan tamad

    I came upon your post and tried it on my watch.

    I used a paperclip to remove the pin, since I had no thumb tacks.

    same principle. and it worked great!!

    thanks for the write-up

  71. Jason

    One thumbtack, hammer and a plastic library card (placed on top of pin when tapping it back in to prevent any scratching) and 3 minutes later….3 links out. Thanks for saving me time and money from the mall jewelry place. Great post!

  72. jamesE

    great instructions! Got a ROSRA watch….
    cheap but attractive….resized in about 10 minutes with your info…wouldn’t have had a clue without you..

  73. Richard

    I successfully took two links out of a Seiko Diver’s watch. The drawing pin worked wonders, and I pulled the pin out with pliers when the length of the drawing pin ran out.

    I was so excited when I had removed the first link, and rejoined the two ends, that I lost concentration. So I found I had put the same link back in again. Then I took it out, and did the correct rejoining – except that I found I had reconstructed the band so that the dial faced my wrist. I decided I did not want to take my watch off every time I wanted to see the time, So put that right.

    Lo and behold, removing a link on the other side of the band went like a dream.

    Thanks for the excellent info. There is no accounting for novices like myself.

  74. Jon O'Brien

    What you should have done is taken off the back of the watch (google it), removed the winder (google it), removed the movement, got some tweezers, repositioned the minute hand back on its canon (google it), pressed it down and then re-assembled.
    Probably take as long as writing this tutorial and save you $105.
    Don’t get me wrong, the tutorial is good, but it just proves that most things relating to watches can be done at home, especially replacing batteries! I built my own watch from parts, no training except Google and YouTube!

  75. Anthony

    thank you I just got a watch was way to big been trying to resize it for three days this worked great got it done in ten minutes and only took that long cause I took my time


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