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DemonSlayer

Very tight/stuck screws in a bracelet

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Like most of us, I've hardly come across this problem. However my favourite watch and now my beater sadly suffers from this problem. All the screws on the bracelet are stuck. I tried heat yesterday (soldering iron) and they still didn't want to move. I didn't expect this from a watch which sells for upto $500 and whose quality is extremely high.

I only need one link removed for it to fit like all my others, however I can live with it as it is. It is certainly wearable (just a little loose than I normally wear them). What I was curious to know is, what causes the screws to get stuck like this? Is there a risk that they can get stuck whilst in our possession and is there anything we can do to help prevent this?

Also, please share your tips on effective methods you have used to remove these screws :) As always, all input is appreciated.

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Have you tried to dive dip the bracelet in to oil ???

You can clean it afterwards.

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I have a spare jubilee bracelet that has 1 extremely stubborn screw. I've thrown everything at it, heat, cold, WD40, oil etc. I'm a bit reluctant to try extreme methods on my favourite rep which happens to be my most expensive.

I really thought heat would work because the screws on watch are so small, so the heat would transfer to the entire length of the screw easily, but it made no difference. I still don't know if its threadlock or corrosion.

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Try a penetrating oil like WD40 (available at most hardware stores or online). Spray a liberal dose onto the sections of the bracelet with stuck screws, let it sit for 5-10 minutes & then be sure you are using as large a screwdriver as will fit into the slot to loosen the screw.

The screws used to assemble bracelets on reps are almost always poor quality (regardless of what you paid for the rep). The threads may get cross-threaded or the threads may just not have been properly cut originally. Also, I see alot of screws that get stuck because of all the soap, sweat & odd ball cleaners that accumulates inside the bracelet over time. Unless you have an ultrasonic or do a final rinse with denatured alcohol (assuming you used soap or detergent to clean it), some of the cleaning agent gets stuck inside the links & screws. Over time, this stuff becomes like glue. Sometimes, a good ultrasonic cleaning will free stuck screws, but if that does not work, WD40 is the best way to get them unstuck that I have found.

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Thanks for your reply guys, Freddy your help is appreciated by many on this board including me :) WD40 in this case is not working. In fact I just found a post by a member who had this exact same problem on his VC Overseas bracelet. WD40 didn't do it for him either, instead he used a powerful lubricating penetrating oil which included teflon. After a couple of hours from applying, he managed to get the screws out. It seems like that I will have to try and get hold of that particular spray (it wont be easy, only sold in the US and to industrial customers).

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Try soaking the bracelet in WD40 for a couple of hours then. Teflon, while a great lubricant, is not likely to be able to penetrate as well as WD40. Most likely, the other poster's screw was loosened by the WD40 but it just took more time. But S-L may be right -- the threads may be cross-threaded. In that case, you may need to drill out the screw head which will then allow you to remove the link & then use pliers to unscrew the remainder of the screw shaft.

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WD40 is pretty good...But I prefer to use PB Blaster, which is a dedicated penetrating lubricant. Spray a little on, and tap the bracelet with something hard for a minute or two (the vibration helps the penetrating process). Wait a few more minutes, wipe down the screw head, and give it a try.

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Yes, for the past 2 days I have been researching extensively on the best penetrating oils/fluids out there. It seems USA have extremely good ones, PB Blaster being one. Unfortunately in boring UK we don't have access to any of that stuff. Most of us have to make do with WD40 and most of the other penetrating oils here are on the same caliber as WD40.

However, today I managed to find one available to the UK which is apparantly one of the best. I'll purchase it and try it out and then report my findings. There may be hope for us UK folks.

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caused by sweatting..? maybe? hope to see the lubricant is gonna work

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pb blaster is best... hands down.

if you can't get it, try liquid wrench

if you can't get that try automotive brake cleaner.

go to an autoparts store and ask them if they have any of them... even a penetrating oil withh help.

good luck

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I've used Liquid Wrench, quite successfully.

Soak the offending screw and part of the bracelet overnight, then the next day tap it with the screwdriver blade tip, then slowly but forcefully turn the screw, it usually comes out for me.

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Did you purchase the watch from a fellow forum member, or a dealer?

Perhaps the screws were put in with Loc tight. Or a super glue to prevent them from loosening.

It seems unlikely that a MBK rep bracelet would have ALL the screws cross threaded.

If you have no luck in loosening them perhaps a replacement bracelet is the answer. I was able to loosen my screws on my MBK PPN without any problems?

Fortunately. Best of luck.

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Thanks again for the suggestions/tips. Unfortunately Liquid Wrench is another penetrating oil which is not available to the UK. I may be able to get it from ebay from a US seller, but the chances are slim.

@Jeff: The watch was bought from a member. He had his watchmaker adjust the bracelet for him, I'm not sure if watchmakers commonly use loctite (threadlock) after adjusting bands with screws, but the member I bought it from was unaware of it if his watchsmith did indeed use it.

Yes it does seem strange to me that all the screws on this bracelet are stuck like that, especially coming from MBK. I read that if threadlock had been used (or any other adhesive), heat would be the best solution. I tried a soldering iron on all of the screws, I even held it to some of them for upto a minute! but it made no difference. Does any one know if a butane torch (pencil torch) would be a better tool to use instead of a soldering iron?

I think what I will do is buy all the best penetrating oils I can, and use them all on the screws. Over time, it may break whatever is bonding those screws.

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I would take the bracelet off, soak it in wd40 overnight, if that does not help, get a hot air blower, not a hair dryer but a heat gun and heat it that way, i doupt that a soldering iron for up to a min would help as they are noy that hot to be honest, also you should be heating the link so that it expands not the screw.

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I'm waiting for another penetrating oil to be delivered, its known as 'PlusGas' and apparantly is one of the best penetrating oils available in the UK. WD40 is apparantly a joke compared to this (for penetrating anyway). Its used by many mechanics, but I'm not sure if its suitable to use on watch bracelets, but I'm going to give it a try anyway.

FXrAndy, the reason why I used the soldering iron on the screw is so that it would melt any threadlock adhesives, is that the correct way to do it? Heating the links would expand the metal, but I thought that the main aim of the heat is to melt any adhesives holding the screw in.

I did a bit of research on how to remove threadlock. Heat is one of the best solutions, however according to Loctite's website, the heat must be 350F for standard adhesives, thats about 177C. I thought a soldering iron did go upto this level heat, but I guess I could be wrong. Anyway I know which device you're referring to and I'm sure we have one in the garage somewhere.

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A soldering iron will get that hot but as you apply the iron to the band that band would absorb the and dissipate the heat so fast it would take a week to get it to a temp that may melt the thread lock, also one to think about, when you say locktite to someone they may have used locktite glue and not thread lock as the name encompasses many products! I use 242 for light threads such as brecelet screws, and 272 for larger items that may require machine tools to remove them, such as on my harley

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Be careful when using heat, as too much concentrated heat will discolor stainless steel.

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Be careful when using heat, as too much concentrated heat will discolor stainless steel.

Will it turn darker gray, or will it turn blue?

I am asking because I have a nice PAM ss crown guard that I wish would match a TI case.

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I would say grey, the soldering iron caused the screws I touched with it to go a dark grey.

Like Ti with patina grey? That would be so nice.

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Does anyone have any tips on how to prevent bracelet screws from getting stuck? I'm sure screws are at risk at getting stuck over the years of usage. My initial thoughts were to dip the screws in some oil or lubricant and then screw them back in, but would this potentially be increasing the chances of the screws getting stuck over time?

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Like you said, it's a double edge sword.

It would make them too easy to slip out if you oiled them first and if you dont then they corrode.

Maybe just dip the screw in blue loc-tight and the plastic will help protect them, then you can oil the whole bracelet as a preventative measure.

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UPDATE:

After time and patience, and A LOT of WD-40, I managed to remove the VERY STUCK screw in my old Jubilee bracelet. It was soaked in WD-40 for 36 hours, then I removed it and tapped the screw head with a screwdriver and hammer. Then I sprayed more WD-40 and really worked it in by moving the links on the jubilee bracelet. I then waited for 4 more hours and took a screwdriver, began to turn it hard, and to my suprise it started to move :o

I guess with this particular bracelet I got lucky as the design of the Jubilee bracelet has a lot of openings, thus giving the WD-40 a greater chance of penetrating and reaching the threads.

Now, I could try the same method with my Nautilus bracelet, but I think I will need more patience with this one. It doesn't have as many openings on its bracelet as the Jubilee bracelet does, so it will be harder for the WD-40 to penetrate. First I will give acetone a go (nail polish remover), I was also thinking of purchasing a higher watt soldering iron. I am almost certain the screws have been glued (epoxied) rather than the cause of the stuck screws being corrosion.

After today, I have more faith in the good old WD-40 :) Granted, there are far better penetrating oils out there, but luckily for me it did work on this Jubilee bracelet screw, and believe me it was solidly stuck!

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I bought a nice Raymond Weil watch online that needed sized once I received it.  I could not remove the screws on the band links at all to save my life and I didn't want to force them too much for fear of messing the screw head up or scratching the band.  I read posts on other sites about heating the watch band to loosen the screws using a small torch type lighter.  I didn't want to do that because I thought it might scorch the band possibly and I didn't want to use solvents for similar reasons so I got the idea of using hot water.  Take a coffee mug and fill it with water.  Heat it in the microwave until boiling, or boil water in a pan on the stove and fill the coffee mug that way if you don't have a microwave.  Dip the band in the hot water for about 30 seconds making sure you don't drop the whole watch in or burn yourself.  Remove the band from the hot water.  The band will be hot to the touch so be careful.  Get your jewelers screwdriver out and remove the screws.  That worked like a champ for me and my watch is now perfectly sized.  Whatever the manufacturer used to secure the threads on the screws was loosened by the hot water.  I'm not sure this will work in all cases and all watches but I hope this helps others who don't want to pay a jewelry store a lot of money to size the band for you.

Edited by TerryC

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