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How to adjust your Rolex bracelet

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A well adjusted bracelet with the watch centered on the wrist
A well adjusted bracelet with the watch centered on the wrist

Last week on Beckertime we discussed how to wear your Rolex bracelet whether to have it loose or tight, and where to place the clasp.  While I am out in public, I am always watch spotting looking for other Rolex watch wearers.  Many times I see Rolex wearers with their watch strap not adjusted correctly with the clasp too far on one side or the other, or worn tightly with bracelet links cantilevering over the hinge of the clasp showing an unsightly crease in the bracelet.

Loctite 221 or 222
Loctite 221 or 222

The tools required for simple clasp and link adjustments are as follows:

  1. Bergeon 1.6 to 1.8mm screwdriver for bracelet link screws.  The best tool is a Rolex screwdriver but they are somewhat pricey on eBay. The slot has exact 90 degree corners and flat at the bottom of the slot; a screwdriver should fit the slot exactly with no slop.  Many watchmakers sacrifice a 1.8mm screwdriver blade by filing it such that it fits into the slot exactly and they keep their custom screwdriver as a dedicated Rolex bracelet screwdriver.
  2. For the modern milled Rolex clasps find a small springbar tool
    1. For the older folded stainless clasps, a toothpick or thumbtack.
    2. Locktite 221 or 222 (Red bottle, blue fluid)
    3. A location that is not carpeted in the event a springbar flies out, or a screw is dropped.  Utilize a table/desk with hardwood floor.
Clasp hinge is centered
Clasp hinge is centered

Before making any blind adjustments, look to see how the watch sits on your wrist.  As mentioned last week, a Rolex watch should be worn loose enough such that a finger can slip under the clasp while the watch is centered on the top of the wrist, and the clasp is centered on the bottom of the wrist. If the clasp is flush on the bottom of the wrist, yet the watch is slightly off center, it just might be a case of moving links. The same is true with the clasp; if the clasp is off center or the clasp hinge has links making a sharp corner moving some links might do the trick.

Rolex screwdriver that fits the link screw exactly
Rolex screwdriver that fits the link screw exactly

The two variables for making adjustments are with the links and the 3-5 adjustment slots inside the clasp. Most Rolex watches come with 12 – 13 links and for most people, links have to be removed.  Rolex recommends that links should first be removed from the 6:00 o’clock side to insure that the clasp hinge stays centered on the wrist.  Removing a link from the 12:00 o’clock site will pull the watch off center.  Utilize your custom filed screwdriver to remove the requisite screw.  Rolex uses 222 Loctite so the screw might not want to release easily.  Do not use too much force.  If the Loctite is holding, heat the link slightly with a hair dryer.  Light heat will release the Loctite.

The other location for adjustments is inside the clasp.  With traditional folded Rolex stainless clasps, there are 4-5 springbar adjustment holes.  Use either a round toothpick, or thumbtack to push the springbar inwards and release it from both sides of the clasp.  Do not pull the link while releasing the springbar as it might fly across the room. Once both sides of the springbar are free, slide the link either left or right to make the adjustment.

Use spring bar tool on the newer milled Rolex clasps
Use spring bar tool on the newer milled Rolex clasps

For newer, milled Rolex clasps, there are at three adjustment slots inside the clasp.  Use a small springbar tool to release both sides of the springbar.  Again, do not pull on the links.  Once the springbar is released, gently slide it from one slot to the other.

Try various combinations of links and springbar locations inside the clasp.  There are many combinations utilizing links and the clasp adjustments until you find a combination that works.

There are instances where nothing works.  For Rolex wearers with wrists smaller than 6.5” in diameter, a non-removable link might have to be removed.  A Rolex dealer can do this for you.  In other instances, a half-link will do the trick.  Oyster half-links are made for the Submariner and DeepSea SeaDweller bracelets, as well as there are half-links for Jubilee bracelets that your Rolex dealer can obtain for you.

No hinge crease showing here.
No hinge crease showing here.

The trick to wearing a Rolex well is insuring that it is fitted correctly.  For me, it took about a month of fiddling with various combinations until I got it right.  Once you’re done with adjustments, drop a little Loctite 221 or 222 on the threads inside the link and re-seat the link screws.  Loctite will insure that no link screw works it way loose.

  • Luan

    Nice one! :-)

  • Hannah Emalfarb

    Is ok to remove 2 links from the 6 o’clock side and none from the 12o’clock side? One side looks shorter and the clasp is off center.

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