Strapped Santos

Recently I acquired via family sources, this nice little Quartz Cartier watch which has been through the wars a bit and I know, I know it should have a bracelet.  However the one fitted had been partly torn off in an accident, badly damaged and beyond repair.  Luckily the lugs of the watch were relatively unscathed with only minor damage and some small marks to the case.

This model is a Santos Steel & Gold W20060D6 quartz version I believe which was re-issued probably as a “homage” to the original 1904 model.  Roman numerals with blue steel sword shaped hands and with a date window @6.  The movement is a Swiss Quartz Calibre 687 and running perfectly once I fitted a new battery.  A nice neat size of watch too with a square face of 29mm x 29mm actually which suits me very well.

So what to do?  Either source a Cartier bracelet which would be very expensive or find an alternative.
The answer was easy for me as I’ve always disliked the Santos bracelet (I actually I don’t like many Cartier bracelets) – and the Santos I’d owned myself some years ago used to hurt my wrist as it was too sharp and after 12 months of  a raw wrist I sold it on.

Now to replace with an alternative bracelet is almost  impossible unless specially made as the bracelet fitting is very tricky.  The fixing pin is hard against the case body, very unusual and fits into a little recess on the very end of the bracelet.

I thought OK – if I’m going to keep the watch it has to have a strap?  Well this initially looked a little difficult owing to the fixing problem – the bracelet securing pin holes in the lugs were far, far too close to the case.  The existing pins were unusable being badly distorted owing to the damage and even if they had been OK they were too thick to use, as even bent it would not have been possible to fit a strap between them and the case body.

I solved the problem quite easily in the end by using a much thinner steel wire (a paper clip actually) than the original pins and cut them at a length to slightly protrude from the lug holes at either side.  I then bent the wire outwards from the case between the lugs enough to allow an open ended strap to slide between the wire and the case.  This bending of the pin effectively shortened the pin by pulling the pin ends inwards slightly, thus making them fit just inside the holes without protruding which was perfect.  My open ended strap then managed to fit with a bit of juggling and this is the result.  The strap is a great high quality camel grain leather one I found at Watchworx.

As said I never like the look of Cartier bracelets generally and personally think the watches look far better with a strap. Which is why I prefer more recent Cartier watches like the Santos 2007 for example as they are proper strap watches, having the strap fixing holes in the correct place.  However I have to admit a sneaking preference for this older model with it’s classic style blued steel sword hands rather than the infill hands of the newer ones.

So all in all I’m pretty pleased and now have a colorful little dress watch, albeit a bit of a “homer” if being critical and one that suits me quite nicely.  A good day all round!

Oh just a point about lugs and bracelets etc.

These days I always check the case construction of any watch I’m interested in to see if it can possibly be fitted with a standard strap.  It is noticeable that many bracelet models have the cases modified in some way and profiled for the particular bracelet or strap and often with oddly shaped lug fixings that make it impossible to change.

Their are literally hundreds of watch styles and models out there that have really quite unique straps or bracelets.  All sorts of strap or bracelet styles, maybe rubber or resin or composites of some kind and whilst they may look great and perhaps compliment the watch – what happens if they wear out or break? (rubber ones used to go brittle and break on me after about a year).  If the model is an older model it can be well nigh impossible to get an original replacement and owing to that odd case/lug arrangement it’s pretty  impossible to get any kind of replacement at all!
Couple this with the fact that many watches in the market place may have little or no after sales support, the watch ends up effectively useless as no OEM bracelet will actually be available anyway.

I don’t have any of the “sport” watches with those sort of  “built-in composite straps” as I find there is simply no way to replace the strap nor get any kind of replacement at all.  To me this is where “fashion” more often than not does away with “function” completely and is a non starter.

So I check the case/lug construction and make sure that the case has what I regard as a standard lug arrangement.  Just sometimes though you do manage to find the odd watch that manages to provide form and function.  There are quite a few around of course which co-incidentally leads me nicely to the fact that my next post  features just such a watch.
This one perhaps unusually has up to 3 different versions and offered with the choice of bracelet, rubber or leather, which seems to me to be the most wonderfully enlightened and sensible idea.

Standard lugs you see – so important.

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2 replies

  1. Hi Bosartis,

    very cool solution. I have the same problem. Would it be possible to show precisely how you tied the strap? Maybe by detailed images? I would be delighted.

    Best regards

    • No images I’m afraid and the watch strap now on is basically as you see on the Post. The only way to remove it now is to cut it off.
      The good thing about these Open Ended straps is that the end that folds over has a dry adhesive already applied. The fold-over part is about 20mm long
      and it is half the thickness of the actual strap. It is this very thin profile that allows the fitting to the lug pin (in this case I used a straight part of a paper clip cut to length, as it is very thin and strong).
      Once the paper clip has replaced the spring bar ie: fitted between the lug pin holes the thin open end part of the strap, this open end is able to slide under the paper clip pin, though to make it easier I had to bend out the paper clip from the case to give enough space between pin and case to enable the thin fold over end to slip through fully). Then it’s simply a case of using a small brush with acetate on it to wet the adhesive on the open end, fold over and push together – job done.
      The thinner the strap open end profile is – the better.
      Unfortunately I didn’t take photos when I did this, but the job took only around 15 minutes from start to finish.(one I figured out that a metal paper clip was a good fit as a spring bar replacement).
      Also the fact the paper clip pin is bent, give tension within the strap fold over end and it will not slip out. Mine hasn’t and it’s been worn a few times since. If you didn’t have to bend the paper clip pin I would be tempted to
      use a small amount of glue around the centre of the pin as insurance – something like “without Nails adhesive for example.
      However I wish you luck and there’s no way you can damage anything by trial and error, so what’s to lose?

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