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Fitting Guide

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The correct way to fit a leather watch strap to your wrist (watches with spring bars)

by Rob – Shop Manager,  Copyright © 2024

Determine Lug Width

The most important part of fitting a leather watch strap to your watch is starting with the correct size strap width to fit between the lug of your watch. Measuring with a ruler is not accurate enough. Measure your watch ‘lug width’ with Vernier calipers or search online for your exact watch model to find correct lug width. A jewellery shop may also be able to help you measure watch lug accurately.

measure or do search online for watch strap lug width

More about lug width…Many watches have odd size lugs particularly if your watch originally came with a bracelet. You should not assume that your watch size is for example 18mm, it could actually be 17mm or 19mm. Common odd size watch lugs are 17mm, 19mm, 21mm and 23mm. Trying to fit, for example a 22mm strap to a 21mm lug watch may damage the watch strap and void any warranty if you do so. Best to look up your watch lug size first and fit exact matching strap.

If you are still having problems determining lug width you could ask a member of the watch community if they are familiar with your watch and lug size.


Time to Start Fitting

Note: Buckle /clasp piece is fitted to lug at 12 o’clock or top of watch face. Hole piece is fitted at 6 o’clock or bottom of watch.

Once you have the correct size (width) strap and are ready to fit, start by inserting spring bar into strap. If quick release strap, spring bars will already be attached.

coolum brown leather band closeup quick release spring bars
Coolum Brown underside showing quick release spring bars

Next, while placing strap with one end of spring bar into watch lug hole, use the spring bar tool to compress spring bar on other end to fit to watch. Quick release straps are fitted the same way except a fitment tool is not required. Fit one end of spring bar into strap then move ball lever to compress spring and guide spring bar into watch spring bar hole. You may need to ‘jiggle’ strap around a little to locate. Once you have found spring bar attachment hole you may hear a slight ‘click’ noise as the end of the spring bar finds the bottom of the hole.
Give the strap a little wiggle each way to make sure strap is definitely seated correctly.

Tip: You can also your fingernail to compress spring bar instead of using the tool. Using your fingernail also means you are less likely to scratch your watch that you may experience using a fitment tool. The fingernail method has been used by watch makers since wrist watches with spring bars where invented in 1931 and is my preferred method.


Never Overtighten a Leather Watch Strap

It is most important that you never overtighten a leather watch strap. Clasp straps are more forgiving because removal is by way of a simple button press rather than pulling the strap like you would with a buckle. Overtightening a leather strap that uses a buckle to fasten strap may result in breaking or tearing at the lug (the most common place) or spring bar at buckle end.

When you first receive a leather strap for your watch, fit to wrist loosely for at least the first week or two until the leather breaks in and shapes to your wrist.
As a guide, allow at the very least a little finger gap between wrist and strap. You read that correctly. Place your pinky finger in between wrist and strap. It should fit quite easily until half way up your little finger.

After a few weeks has passed and the leather feels a bit more comfortable then you may be able to tighten slightly by one adjustment hole if you wish. Removing strap with a buckle means tightening the strap to release buckle prong away from buckle. A small gap should still be present to allow strap to be removed out from the buckle.

Good rule of thumb (pardon the pun)  – Leave at least a pinky finger to index finger gap between strap and wrist.


Let me give you an example why not overtightening a leather watch strap is important

We have all used belts around our waist from time to time to keep our pants from falling down. Say you where to tighten your waist belt really tight, how do you then remove the belt?…
You would remove by ‘breathing in’ and pulling belt to release the prong from the buckle. Unfortunately our wrists cannot ‘breathe in’. Instead what can happen if a leather watch strap is tied tightly, when it comes time to remove the strap has no where to move and will stretch and if enough pressure is applied the leather may even break, usually at the weakest point, the watch lug followed by the buckle.

Always leave a gap!  between strap and underside of wrist and your strap will last twice as long and feel much nicer on the wrist throughout the day as your wrist size increases and decreases. Better still, fit a clasp instead of a buckle as a clasp will limit the stretching of the leather when fitting or removing your watch.
Thanks for reading.
Rob – Shop Manager

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First published January 2024
Copyright ©


  1. Mehamed Fahim Mohamed Nadeer

    I am just wondering that the strap (Maleny Classic Alligator Pattern 20mm silver) will compatible with my Galaxy classic watch 6. could you please send me a confirmation on this.

    1. Rob - Shop Manager

      If your watch is 20mm lug width and straps attach via spring bars then it will fit. As long as you realise that the original Samsung straps are curved and the Maleny is straight. You will have a gap between strap and case more like a traditional watch if you fit a straight lug strap. We do have curved lug straps available in the shop.

  2. Khaled Abdu


    Hi, I’m looking at the strap below for my 16 year old daughter’s watch. Her wrist is very slim, under 6”, so the length is very important. Can you please advise the lengths of the 2 sections for this strap:

    1. Rob - Shop Manager

      All the information is already on the page. Scroll down to ‘Description’ in the more information section under images.

  3. With a wrist circumference of 150 mm, would a clasp strap be too long?
    Thank you.

    1. Rob - Shop Manager

      Hi TW, Not sure what clasp strap you are referring to but no difference in clasp versus buckle size. Also, your wrist falls into average size so all of our straps should be ok but will depend on your watch lug to lug size. See ‘Description’ section under images on listing page for strap lenghts and more detailed information.

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