Changing a bracelet on the OS

Inspired by Dean's post, here is my take on changing the bracet on the Overseas Chrono.

Changing a bracelet on the OS
Various items including, from left to right: needle-nose tweezers, pin-remover, small rubberized vise, small screwdrivers, holders for small screws etc (tops of pill bottles). They are on a neutral colour non-slip matt. The last thing you need is to have one of the screws disappear on the floor!

Changing a bracelet on the OS
The circular item in the middle is the head band for a binocular magnifier which is invaluable. I prefer it to a single ocular. It’s much easier on the eyes and gives a 3-D view. When I asked someone at VC why they didn’t use a binocular eyepiece, they said it was “tradition”.

Changing a bracelet on the OS
Despite all the tools I had, I decided to use the VC watchmaker set in this Victorinox kit. Everything needed is here and it’s excellent quality.

Changing a bracelet on the OS
The watch held in the vice, sideways to get at the screws in the lugs.

Changing a bracelet on the OS

Changing a bracelet on the OS
The screw being removed and captured by the fine tweezers.

Changing a bracelet on the OS
Two of the screws in the bottle cap. Notice the blue colour of the threads. They have been treated with Loc-tite. I suppose using this stuff is to guarantee that the screws don’t fall out. But if you are going to change the strap or bracelet on a regular basis, I would not advocate using it.  With the force required to break the Loctite seal, you will eventually mar the screw head. Its very easy to do. The screw heads are relatively soft steel. And if the screws are gold or other soft metal, there is a risk of destroying the screw head and snapping it off altogether.

Changing a bracelet on the OS
Pushing the pin out. Make sure you have the right tool here.

Changing a bracelet on the OS
The srews, pins strap and bracelet together
Changing a bracelet on the OS
My little dog, Banjo appears in the doorway to see if i need a hand, I mean, "paw"

Changing a bracelet on the OS
The procedure is reversed to install the bracelet. The pin goes in easily with the bracelet properly aligned. And the screws are replaced. I did not use Loctite.

Changing a bracelet on the OS
Only half the job is done. The bracelet is on but now you have to size the it and remove one or more links, but it’s very easy. The design of the bracelet makes it straightforward.
The bracelet has screw along the edge. But cleverly they are on one side one.

Changing a bracelet on the OS
To prevent mixing up the links, the screws are located on one side of the bracelet, to the left of the deployant, and on the other edge on the links to the right of the deployant. That way, if you have removed several links from each side and decide to replace them, you will know right away to which side of the strap they belong.

Changing a bracelet on the OS
Here you can see the screw heads all on the same side. But to the right of the deployant buckle, as shown above, the crewheads would be on the underside.
Changing a bracelet on the OS

Changing a bracelet on the OS
The screw is part of a pin holding the links together. You need to remove two pins in order to free one link. One goes back in to rejoin the links and the other stays with the ‘missing link” (so it doesn't go missing permanently.

I have to digress here and comment on the use of slot-head screws. Their design is quite on and ultimately inferior to subsequent concepts. In fact, I feel it is the worst possible design one could use. Subsequent designs such as Phillips, Robertson, Torx, and hexhead (Allen key) are much superior and stable and almost completely eliminate slippage of the screwdriver and damage to the screw. And I say this from years of personal experience in wood working, assembling and disassembling computer parts and changing straps and buckles on my watches. If you have a Casio Pathfinder type watch, and try to change the battery, you will dee the tiny screws holding the back on have Phillip-type heads. As a decoration on the movement to show anglage is fine but on the outside of the case and on buckles and bracelets, I feel other types of screw heads are superior (unless it’s done specifically to discourage people from doing the work themselves).
Just my 2 cents worth.
Bravo Joseph!
11/18/2012 - 17:33
Great assortment of tools!  Interesting that you recommend against using Loctite (controversy after all crying).  One reason I posted the topic in the first place were several recent stories of owners having their watches literally fall off their wrists, causing damage and inconvenience.  I truly hope that never happens to anyone but its also avoided with the magic blue compound.  The lowest-strength 222 Loctite is available, although not recommended by the watchsmiths I've consulted.  I share your loathing of the slot screw, and proudly advocate for robertson as supreme wink.  One other aspect of the whole rubber strap/leather strap/bracelet choice is how willing one is to do this operation in a hotel room, etc., when a full tool selection isn't available.  What would you suggest is the minimum kit for travel? 
Hi Dean
11/18/2012 - 23:53
Thanks for your comments. My travel set is really only the VC/Victorinox set which comes in a small leathe case. It was a gift at one of the SIHH dinners and I am extremely gratefully to the people at Vacheron for this very useful set of tools. I would also include a small loupe. I've never personally had a problem with any screws falling out but have damaged a few screw heads including a gold one on a Patek deployant. It's a similar design to the VC one that you showed that holds the pin in place at one end of the deployant buckle. it's a poor design and both Chopard and Lange as well as the earlier VC's do not have them. I do check the screw tightness about every 6 months and never had an issue. As Bob says, the srews are replaceable. Joseph
Discussion of tools very timely
11/19/2012 - 02:42
I'm considering one of the tool kits made by Bergeon or Horotec so am very interested in what others have found are essential tools "in the field".  The multi-tool watchmaker's knife is a brilliant piece but not sufficient in itself indecision.
Great job!
11/18/2012 - 18:45
I love the rubberized vise.  I have to get one of those.  Interesting that you opted to us the Victronix tool kit.  In answer to Dean's question about the minimum tools required when traveling, gee, that tool kit is pretty portable.  wink You are right about the potential damage to the screw heads, but that seems to me to be not such a big problem. So, I am kind of leaning towards Dean's recommendation to use the Loctiite.  I imagine that the steel screws can be replaced by VC when needed or at regular service intervals for a fairly minimal charge (I could be wrong). What I worry about more is scratching the case, which is why we need to take care when performing these operations, and stripping the screw hole threading.  Is this latter issue a problem over time if we change the strap several times a year?  Thoughts? In any case, this is an excellent tutorial, well explained and nicely illustrated.  Banjo looks about as helpful as my Kuma is -- well probably more helpful.  My Kuma does not show the least bit of interest in watches.
Thanks Bob
11/19/2012 - 00:01
I think that the real danger is overtightening the screws and breaking the head off. Then you're really "screwed"! The screw body would have to be drilled out. I suppose with a soft metal such as gold its not too difficult but I would personally send the watch back to VC for that. I've done with with larger screws in working and it is a difficult, tedious procedure. I don't think there is much of a chance of stripping the threads in the hole if one is very careful, does not force the screw, but takes care in alighnment and does not overtighten. As you said: "we need to take care when performing these operations," Absolutely correct! Two "words of wisdom": Don't rush Measure twice and cut once as they say. And don't force anything. If you have to force it... YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG! Regards, Joseph
Very Nice Write-up and Photos
11/18/2012 - 22:17
I would not advocate for phillips head screws on a watch.  The phillips head was designed specifically to torque out, and has a tendency to do so.  Hex, Robertson or Torx would indeed be an improvement, but they all require a deeper head for the recesses and a lot of new tools if you have many sizes of screw.
Thanks Michael
11/19/2012 - 00:07
You are right about the different sizes especially for Torx and Hex. I have never seen tiny Robertson screws. But the same is true for the slot screw drivers. I have at least 6 tiny ones and others for larger screws in my computer gear (but still quite small). The other probem with the slot head screw drivers is their weakness. I have some very good ones from Germany from Wiha but almost all of them are chipped. I don't think you can harden them enough when they're that thin. I would much rather invest in a good set of Torx screwdrivers and know they are going to be stable, hold the screw head firmly and not chip or slip. Regards, Joseph
Alex, are you listening?
11/19/2012 - 00:09
For the future, how about a class at Vc during the SIHH in changing straps bracelets and buckles? laugh Joseph
well... ahem....
11/19/2012 - 10:08
after having seen what you guys did to the movements not sure I want to see the same thing happenning to your watches cheeky
Re: Changing a bracelet on the OS
11/19/2012 - 01:28
Great post - very helpful , although all this talk of different tools and screws just highlights how much I don't know - most it goes over my head. My Overseas hasn't fallen off yet thankfully cool
Thanks Joseph, a quick question, I am not familiar with the
11/19/2012 - 10:07
other types of screws you mention which are supperior, do you have some scans?
Re: Thanks Joseph, a quick question, I am not familiar with the
11/19/2012 - 13:23
I will take some picks of the screw driver heads or find some on-line today or tomorrow..
Happy to help out with some pics
11/19/2012 - 14:49
There is a good pictoral overview of all the many different screw heads here: Hex             Robertson  Torx         
I learn so much here from you guys
11/19/2012 - 15:22
Thanks Michael, some brands use these types of screw heads and many
11/19/2012 - 15:30
owners are unhappy with this because the tools don't seem to be readily available so I guess its a never ending story! However the screws I'v seen using this type of head were much larger than the ones on the OS
Not necessarily advocating for their use
11/20/2012 - 00:38
As I mentioned in my previous post, they do have drawbacks such as needing a deeper head, and they necessitate additional tools. I am also not sure if they are even available in tiny sizes.   If VC were to use a special screw for the strap of the Overseas, they would probably have to include a tool as they do with a corrector tool.
Hi Michael, my answer was in fact to Joseph comment's on using
11/20/2012 - 10:31
screws with slots.
They are readily available, in very small sizes comparable to the slot
11/22/2012 - 06:46
screwdrivers and are slightly more expensive ($11 for a T1 Torx 0.81mm vs slot at $9 and 0.80 width) Phillips are similar. T! is the smallest. I have a T3 which is 1.10mm, still quite small. Furthermore, I don't necessarily agree that a deeper head is required. The design of the screw head in the VC OS deployant is quite large compared to the thread length and could easily accomodate any type of screwdriver. Many small screw heads are in fact designed to be used with either a slot head or Phillips type. As I alluded to in a previous posting, the screws in my Casio Pathfinder are similar in size to the screws holding the lug pins in the OS. If you have a look at the inside in any Samsung or Blackberry phone, you will be hard pressed to find a slot head screw. I don't know about the iPhone since I haven't opened one up but i would think it's similar. Best, Joseph
Here you are Alex
11/19/2012 - 16:23
These are much larger than what would be required for a watch but the design is the same and they do come in very small sizes. From left to right: 2 slot heads, 3 Torx, 3 Phillips and 2 Hex head. Sorry, I know there should be 3 hex but i put it in the wrong holder and didn't notice until after I took the photo. End-on view of the driver tips.
Re: Changing a bracelet on the OS
01/26/2013 - 22:01
I am the new proud owner of a VC OS. Was wondering where I can purchase the VC Victorinox watchmaker toolkit. I tried googling the item but was unsuccessful. I am looking to invest in a few good tools so that I can avoid paying the jeweler each time I want to change bracelets. Also, what size flathead screw driver do you recommend and is there a brand of tools you highly recommend? Thanks
Re: Re: Changing a bracelet on the OS
04/01/2014 - 21:11
Try to find Wenger Minathor - the same model, but not with VC inscription...