Jump to content

Making Bracelet End Links


Recommended Posts

I have several vintage watches with twisted, bent or warped end links. I also have some nice vintage bracelets that are missing the end links completely. Some of them are rare enough that finding replacements is out of the question.

Case in point: my gorgeous ‘73 Pencron. Both end links were damaged, but one was terrible. I made a new end link for it tonight using 0.3mm SS and mandrels I made from 3mm, 6mm and 8mm square stock. I’ll replace the other eventually, but it’s not bad.

The mandrels that I made will allow me to make a wide variety of end links and eventually, my own SS bracelets. 😉
 

Pictured is the old beat up link and the new one, installed.

9C411EAF-CEE6-42CB-8732-EAC32C766432.jpeg

D20413F0-1D8A-4BF4-A9D8-49BA5A4CE5EA.jpeg

Edited by PinLeverPete
  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

As this isn’t really a “walkthrough”, I’ll just post some pics and descriptions here. You can fill in the blanks 😉

Here is a picture of tonight’s project and it’s original bent and scratched end link:

E773829E-434B-4340-8271-FE1E7BC175E6.thumb.jpeg.dd5a12ba7b23ed34f9a7d7a68493d218.jpeg

 

The end product will basically be a piece of rectangular SS tubing with a butt or lap seam at the back (or could have the ends tucked into a “B” shape, etc...I started mandrels for this, but probably won’t pursue that route as it’s over-complicated).

The key is keeping the face clamped flat, so it won’t warp, while making the bends. That, and making the last bend on the bracelet. You can’t bend it back without warping.

Cut your SS larger than needed: measure the width of your lugs, then add 2-4mm. Cut a strip about 2cm long and the width needed.

7ABCA464-E0B6-43E7-8479-0D9CA9FDB75C.jpeg

31640648-5AFA-4BF3-ABB2-66290F2C9922.jpeg

Edited by PinLeverPete
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Bend the strip around your mandrel (I am currently using 3/16”, AKA 4.65mm, square stock from Lowe’s and it has been perfect for end links).

Clamp the SS (at the midpoint and perpendicular to the length) in between your mandrel and a flat hard metal surface and bend one flap over (don’t clamp too hard or you’ll damage the metal). Press down hard with a flat metal tool (flat head screwdriver?) to get those bends sharp. I actually rolled mine flat with a large spark plug socket. Fast and easy.


Trim the flap end so that it is even with the end of the mandrel.

Flip the piece over, then clamp, bend and cut the other side the same way. 

The end result will be a “C” channel. I found that I got the best 90 degree bends using my bench vise with the knurled jaw flipped around so the flat side is facing the piece. 

 

EED1108E-DD6C-4052-88E0-5393486CD22F.jpeg

Edited by PinLeverPete
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Note: all cutting is done with a Dremel and 420 cutoff wheels. Snips, etc cannot be used as they will bend and warp the SS.

This next mandrel is the same stock, cut down to 2mm thick (not great looking, but proof of concept).

Move the piece to this mandrel and wrap the flaps around the rear, leaving one flap at 45 degrees (this will be the bracelet side). Again, press down hard with a flat metal tool to get those bends sharp.

Like I said, not pretty, but the end result...

This can also be done with $2 Walmart clamps and a larger piece of stock if you don’t have a vise.

 

 

F55830C8-D4AA-48DB-BA90-F61C8452CCCA.jpeg

11ED6315-04BC-4616-8B45-6E1FE5B46609.jpeg

Edited by PinLeverPete
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Remove from the mandrel, make one end perfectly square using the Dremel disc face or other flat. Measure off of your square end to cut and square the other side to exactly your lug width.

Cut a slot on the rear of the link on the lug side for removing the spring bars in the future.

 

BA6C6BF4-7AF2-41E9-99FB-6E43E65ED5EC.jpeg

08C7DF65-6925-4E27-A8BE-A4C8938D24E4.jpeg

Edited by PinLeverPete
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

At this point, you would trim the bracelet side, but I didn’t need to with this one.

Clean up flashing, file edges lightly, round corners and finish by removing blemishes from the face with 600-1000 grit in even, parallel strokes for a brushed finish. Follow up with metal polish, only if you want a mirror/chrome-like finish.

For two tone, mask your brushed areas and polish the rest. 😉
 

Slide your 45 degree flap trough the bracelet slot and carefully bend the flap shut so that you don’t warp the face (if you want a curved face, gently squeeze the ends of the link with pliers to bow the face out...this is tricky at first).

You only get one shot at it. If you try to open it back up, you will warp it. Do it right the first time. 😉

Sanded piece is pictured on the left, unfinished on the right.

F5BA5069-714D-4ACA-87FC-076A372E0EC1.jpeg

1E8E3421-996D-4497-9F59-8ECFD8FDDBF5.jpeg

Edited by PinLeverPete
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

By the way, I did not have the watch out in that mess. I just took it out for the pic because it was 3 A.M. and the lighting was better there. I’ll get a good daytime shot when the sun catches up with me.
 

 

Edited by PinLeverPete
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Pete  thanks for the pics and descriptions, It will strike a chord with some members who are into refurbishing watches and bracelets. The simplicity of the process and no special tools required just a bit of DIY and attention to detail,   thanks again.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

My tools could be more refined. I’m working on that. This was really more of a “proof of concept” trial that turned out very well. 

If someone were so inclined, they could make mandrels with different face and/or rear profiles to make them curved, etc. I started work on several, but the square mandrel has worked so well and easy that I doubt I’ll pursue more complex profiles anytime soon.

If anyone has anything to add or other ideas, please post them and your results. 🙂

Edited by PinLeverPete
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just did this on a whim the other day and am a bit embarrassed about my “tools and supplies”. The square stock was purchased at Lowe’s for around $2 per piece and the SS I found at...ummm...Walmart. 

I just walked around with my calipers in hand looking for SS. Found lots of nice, low cost stuff that I’ll be able to make my own rally bracelets out of. The SS I’m using here came from a $7 small trash can (it was a 0.3mm veneer on the lid, so the can is still useable = free SS).

I’d had the idea for a while, but was finally motivated by my sad looking Pencron end link staring back at me.

 

072A1EDB-F87C-4F87-A979-188887BFBFB9.jpeg

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you!

I'm so attuned to using material suppliers, that I would have never thought of looking around for material in a Walmart or whatever. 

Shows you what I know 🙂

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

That would’ve been the proper way to do it. I did look around online, but was too impatient to wait.
 

At 9 PM, I decided that I wanted to do it. By midnight, I had a new end link. 😄

Edited by PinLeverPete
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share



  • Recently Browsing

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Topics

  • Posts

    • Hello to all! My name is Mircea and I am thrilled to be a member of the WRT, as I already used many of your advices in my newly discovered hobby, repairing watches! I do know what means watchmaking, but I just started a few months ago in repairing timepieces, so watchmaking is a long way to come yet... I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and I do make my living in a completely different field, ie health services... But I always liked to know how things work and how can they can be repaired, if needed. While a year ago I only had one watch, now I own severals, mainly vintage and of Russian origin. The first watch that I put together was a DIY watch bought from Taiwan in a mail order kit, with a NH35 movement and a very nice diver case, dial and hands. I enjoyed it that much that I started to look on the Internet about various topics on watches and watchmaking, started to seek watchmakers in my area and found one that supplied me with a few broken watches to play with. Well, that was the beginning , changing quartz movements in a few watches and finally dismantling and reassembling a few mechanical ones. With a lot of advice from the internet, and especially WRT (THANK YOU ALL FOR THAT), I succeded in repairing  with very good results two mechanical watches, a Cardinal Russian with a 2609HA movement and an Altantic Worldmaster Swiss with a UN 6300N movement. I am proud to have them working at less than +/- 2s/day precision, good amplitude and very low beat error, and they became a valued part of my watch collection for good. Much more to come... Well, time is limited so please be patient with me, as I do not know a lot yet, but I am eager to learn and as pasionate as everyone here! Thank you in advance! See you around in the forum!
    • Thank you for the link hippy.  My concern at this point is how to hold the balance in the lathe.  Chucks like on a lathe or a pin vise are good at holding simple cylindrical objects, like drill bits or a cylinder of whatever you're about to cut into. But a balance is a complex surface and I'm having trouble envisioning how exactly it would fit into the lathe chuck.
    • I am guessing this is akin to tuning a piano and is an acquired skill. One thing I saw on a 7750 I worked on was the finger was up high up on the gear. Not all of the finger face was touching the gear. I thought it was bent and I was thinking about bending it down. I decided to leave it alone as it was working. Matt
    • Bulova Seaking Automatic from 1975 I believe. Just restored and serviced this for my next door neighbour. It's 'on test' for the next day. He told me he got it for his tenth wedding anniversary and has been in a drawer for 25 years or so. Going to give it back to him tomorrow evening. I hope he will be pleased to wear it again. 
×
×
  • Create New...