How to change the strap on your Android Wear watch

A new strap changes both the look and feel of your new Android watch

So you have Android strapped to your wrist with your new LG G Watch or Samsung Gear Live. Pretty cool, isn't it? We know both devices are far from perfect, and Android Wear is still in its infancy, but chances are you'll be sporting your new watch daily and putting it to good use — that's why we bought the things, right?

If this sounds like you, you probably want to change out the strap that came bundled with your new watch. There's nothing inherently wrong with the straps on either watch, but there are so many options out there that can make your new watch more comfortable to wear and even make it look better while doing it. The good news is that it's easy to do, and uses standard 22mm straps. All you need is a well-lit place to work, your new strap, and some sort of tool to push in the springbars.

Android Wear straps

First things first — make sure you have a strap that's 22mm wide. That's the distance between the holes on both watches where the springbar fits in. If you're determined, you can use a different size strap, but you need 22mm springbars or it's not going to work.

You'll also want a tool you can use to depress the springbars. They have a shoulder at each end, and believe it or not there is a special tool that's designed to grasp that shoulder, apply tension to the spring inside the springbar, and collapse it by a few millimeters so it can drop into place. You can buy the one we're using from Amazon for $5.99 with Amazon Prime if you want. You can also use something like a slim bladed pen knife, but there's a very good chance you'll cut yourself. If you don't want to use the suggested tool, or don't want to wait for shipping, go to the auto parts store and buy a set of feeler gauges. Or use a knife, but be very careful.

Got a new strap that you like, and a way to depress the springbars? Excellent.

The LG G Watch

Get ready to rock and roll

Lay the watch face down (don't scratch the front glass!) and undo the strap so that each end lays off to either side. Make sure you have plenty of light, because if (read: when) a springbar goes flying, you'll want to be able to retrieve it. Place your tool between the edge of the strap that's attached and the edge of the lug (those are the "ears" that hold the strap in place) and put the notch of the tool around the barrel of the springbar. Gently use the tool like a lever and push the springbar itself towards its center. This will collapse the internal spring (hence the name "springbar") and make the pin a millimeter or so shorter. While it's depressed. pull the strap out and away from the body of the watch.

It sounds more tricky than it really is. Once you have one side of the springbar out of its hole, you can just pull the other end out and the strap will follow. Next, move to the other side and do the same thing. You should then have both sides of the strap off, and be left with a G Watch that's ready for a new look.

G Watch strap pins

Putting the new strap or band on is just as easy — just reverse the procedure. Put the springbar in the hole on the end of the strap, and place one end in the hole on the lug. Get everything as close to being attached as you can, then position your tool on the shoulder of the springbar and depress it. Slide the new strap into place and remove the tool. Give it a tug to make sure both ends of the springbar are in the holes they belong in, and you're done with that side of the strap.

New strap on the G Watch

Do the same on the other side, and you're done. One last thing to mention about the G Watch is how the strap or band will affect the attachment of the charging plate. While we can't say that every strap will work fine, chances are you won't have any issues. We didn't with the substantial steel band we put on the G Watch.

Charging the G Watch with a replacement band

Now your LG G Watch looks less like a black slab prototype and has a bit of it's own style. I love what Phil is rocking here.

G Watch band

What a transformation! And it was easy to do.

The Samsung Gear Live

Gear Live strap

Samsung is using quick-release pins on the factory strap on the Gear Live. This means that you won't have to use a tool to remove the strap, though unless you buy a replacement with quick-release pins you'll need one to put the new one on. This makes removing the factory strap simple.

Grab the quick-release mechanism with your fingernail and pull it towards the center of the strap and away from the lug it's attached to. While you have it depressed, just pull the strap away from and out of the lugs. Done. Easy-peasy. In fact, everything should be this easy. Too bad it's not.

Gear Live strap

Attaching a new strap on the Gear Live can be a little tricky because of the way the lugs are recessed into the curved body of the watch itself. If you thought ahead and bought a strap with quick-release pins, just put it on the same way you took the factory strap off, only in reverse. Since there isn't a huge selection of straps with these style pins, chances are you don't have one and will have to use a tool. That's OK, you just need to alter the method a tiny bit.

Strap folded back across the Gear Live

Take a look at this image and notice how the new strap is folded back across the body of the Gear Live itself. This is so we have better access to the holes in the lugs, and can get things into position a little easier. You can work from the other side, and if you're using a one piece strap you might have to. It's entirely doable, just a bit more tricky to reach.

Once you have things in close proximity of where they need to be, depress the springbar with your tool and slip it into the lug. When you are pretty sure it's in the right spot, remove your tool and let the bar spring back into place — hopefully inside it's hidey-hole where it belongs. Give your new strap a bit of a tug to be sure. Repeat for the other side, and you're golden.

I hate this look

While a strap isn't going to interfere with the charger on the Gear Live, it has issues with third-party straps of its own. If you look closely at the end of the factory strap where it meets the body, you'll notice it's not just a flat edge. There's a lip molded into the strap itself, and little "wings" on either side of the springbar. This is done so that it fits flush against the body of the Gear Live and almost looks like it is one piece. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this — in fact I think it looks good — but it means that any strap that's not molded this way will leave bits of the body showing that you might not want to see. They're not sharp, and they are finished edges, but it looks a bit odd. Hopefully, Samsung realizes there is a market for different styles os strap and we get some choices. In the meantime, you'll have to deal with this. And no, the Gear 2 strap isn't a match — it's molded entirely different.

Gear Live new strap

While the straps that come with both Android Wear watches are fine in their own right, customizing things at what Android fans like to do. Because LG and Samsung used industry standard sizes and methods, swapping out the strap on your new watch is simple, and dare I say a little fun.

If you've swapped out your watch strap, be sure to show off the new look in the Android Wear forums!

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.