The more you learn about watches, the more it turns out you don’t know – yet. In order to build a solid and durable timepiece that will stand the test of time, some parts need to meet certain criteria. Although not many people think much of clasps when considering the purchase, they play their part as well. In this article, we are going to learn what are the different types of watch clasps and see how they can affect everyday use.
I won’t lie – although the clasp is not the first thing I want to check when buying a watch, I certainly don’t overlook it either. There are some watch clasps and buckles that work well for some but not so for others.
It doesn’t matter if you just have thirst for knowledge and you’d like to learn everything possible about your current watch, or you simply want to know whether a certain watch buckle type can give you a better experience with a new one. I certainly don’t think such a thing as the best watch clasp exists, though. This article has been written to make sure you know all about the subject – and it’s going to leave you in awe about the number of different options.
Main Watch Band Clasp Types
Usually, when a person has any idea about clasps, he can differentiate between two groups – deployant watch clasps and buckles. And not without a reason, these are indeed the two main types.
If you have ever used a metal watch band, it most definitely used a deployant clasp type. Although not always, it is more often than not used in watches with stainless steel bracelets and those made of other metal-type materials.
On the other hand (although again – there are some exceptions), buckles are “the norm” when it comes to timepieces with leather or rubber/silicon straps.
Although buckles are pretty self-explanatory, there are many different types of deployant clasps. Now that you know about the two main groups, get your popcorn and let’s learn about all types of watch clasps available.
Classic Deployant Clasps
To put it in the easiest way possible, deployant clasp is a type of bracelet closure that opens and folds out. They were invented at the beginning of the 20th century by Louis Cartier. If your watch isn’t a knock-off, the clasp should be locking and unlocking smoothly.
The standard version of the deployant clasp, known as the single-fold watch clasp, is predominantly used in watches for men. Guys are quite uncomplicated species and they also get the least sophisticated deployant closure. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
The most common deployment clasp uses a mechanism that unfolds into thirds, allowing you to comfortably get your wrist inside the band. If you have never owned a watch with it, you might find some difficulties while trying to unlock it at first (I did). These will pass with a few attempts, don’t worry.
The good thing about deployant clasps is that they are pretty secure. Because of the lock, the watch really does stick to your wrist which sometimes can’t be said about timepieces with buckle closures.
The one thing that I literally hate about deployant clasp watches is that I can’t resize them on my own. There were many times in the past when I had been waiting for my next purchase to arrive, only to find out that my wrist is too small for it. With deployant clasp types, in order to resize them, you have to remove small pieces of the band. Unless you are a professional yourself, you will have to bring it to a watchmaker to adjust the size.
Deployant Clasps With Push-Button
Definitely a much easier to tinker version of a deployant clasp. As the name itself suggests, it comes with a push-button that makes buckling and unbuckling the bracelet a breeze. To all those who struggle with the regular type – this one will make your life much easier.
Although standard deployant clasps are safe, it’s hard to argue that those with push buttons are even more secure. Whereas in the case of the standard type the possibility of randomly opening the clasp does exist, here it’s pretty much impossible. There’s no way the bracelet will open up unless you hold the push-button(s) and then release it.
Another reason why I prefer push-button clasps to regular ones is that they simply look better. I like everything minimalistic and push-button clasps frequently look way more simple and are less noticeable.
Fold-Over Deployant Clasps With Push-Button
Do you want to feel the maximum security possible? Are you already comfortable with the use of the two abovementioned clasps? If you have answered “yes” to both of the questions, then this is the right type for you.
To put it simply, it’s a combination of the standard deployant clasp and the push-button one. The tri-fold watch clasp makes it pretty much impossible for the watch to move away from your wrist unintentionally. Timepieces with this kind of closure include push-buttons on both sides and additionally come with a snap latch folding over the main clasp.
The mere reason why I’m not too fond of fold-over push-button deployant clasps is: they are massive. As I have already mentioned, I like the clasp neat and small – I hate it when it overshadows other parts of the watch.
If security is your highest priority and you wouldn’t like the clasp to be the heaviest part of your watch, you might want to consider the next clasp type.
Double-Lock Fold-Over Deployant Clasps
The type of clasp that’s most commonly used with sports watches. Because such timepieces are prone to bigger movement and a higher chance of dropping from the wrist, they come with an added flip lock safety tab to minimize the chance of any damage caused by our own negligence.
Butterfly Deployant Clasps
Now that’s one I really like. Butterfly clasps are pretty much invisible while locked, making it the best possible option for me and all the others who love simplified design. The mechanism of such a clasp closes on your wrist, making it invisible from the outside, almost as if the watch is magically glued to your wrist.
At this point, you might be wondering why the name “butterfly”. The idea came from the fact that the clasp is made of two metal hinges that, when unfolded, look like spread butterfly wings.
Although looking neat, I wouldn’t say butterfly clasps are for everyone. If you have never owned a watch with any kind of deployant clasp or you simply struggle with it, then this one won’t be any easier to navigate. The butterfly “wings” I mentioned before unfold toward the inner side of your wrist. Therefore, to comfortably unlock the bracelet you have to wear your watch looser than you would one with a tang buckle or any deployant clasp that unlocks on the outside.
This kind of clasp is rarely used in watches but it’s still worth mentioning as you are likely to have come across it. As the name suggests, most often you will find it with various types of jewelry like bracelets, bangles, anklets, etc.
Unlike many other deployant clasps that for many are a real struggle to play tinker with, this one is pretty straightforward. Jewelry clasps consist of just two main parts – a lock on one side and a hole to put it through on the other.
The process of locking and unfolding these clasps is a walk in the park compared to some discussed above. Jewelry clasps also have an upper hand over others because in most cases they are adjustable. Usually, they come with at least 5 openings so we can easily adjust the length of it to the size of our wrist – without a visit to a professional.
Safety Strap Clasps
Remember when I said that deployant clasps are normally, but not always, used with metal-made bracelets? The so-called safety strap clasps are the kind of closures that are used with watch bands that are not metal. Sometimes you will see them in watches with leather or rubber straps.
Speaking from experience, safety strap clasps are a nightmare to deal with. There’s absolutely no way you can adjust the size of such clasps without using draconian measures.
If it turns out the band is too loose for your wrist, the only way to adjust it is to remove the ends of the clasp, cut off the surplus part of the band and then re-attach the clasp to the strap again. Sounds a struggle? Because it is. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the room for error is non-existent here. If you cut off too much of the band, you can wave it goodbye which in turn means that the only way to wear the watch again is to buy a completely new strap.
These differ from deployant closures in that they only have a solitary hinge opening to one side. More often than not, flip clasps are also made of stainless steel or metal but ironically, they won’t suit watches with bracelets made from these materials. Instead, they are used with watch straps made of textile and silicone.
In most aspects, flip clasps are similar to safety strap clasps. The one glaring difference is that, similarly to regular tang buckles, they are attached to the strap with a spring bar.
Depending on the watch, you might come across flip clasps with or without push buttons. Some timepieces will use those for extra security, others will be fastened just by pressurizing the clasp. If you were to get a watch with this kind of clasp, I’d strongly recommend going for one that does include the buttons. Otherwise, there’s always an increased risk of the clasp accidentally unfolding.
What’s also good about this type of clasp is that, just like in the case of push-button deployant clasps, these are barely noticeable from the outside. The
Definitely the most popular type of watch closure. Tang buckles, also known as ardillon buckles, are the very first and most traditional type of a “lock”.
Most of the time these are made of stainless steel and are used in straps made of leather and textile. Tang buckles are also an integral part of all the so-called tactical watches that you will come across in my buying guides for physically demanding professions like construction workers or mechanics.
Similar to a belt buckle, a tang buckle is for watch bands with holes. One side of the buckle includes a pin that you need to put through one of the holes to lock the watch on your wrist.
This type of closure also has good and bad sides. The obvious positive is that unlike most types of deployant clasps, tang buckles are easily adjustable and will fit most wrist sizes out there. For this reason, timepieces with this kind of buckle are the preferred option for gifts. The drawback is that especially if you are using a leather strap, in time it is likely to crack or fade due to regular bending.
If I were to select from all watch closure types just one that would be the most hassle-free to adjust, it would be this one. They are often used with sports and kids’ watches but don’t let that fool you – they tend to be really durable as well.
Most straps made of this material are considerably long which can be good and bad at the same time. On a positive note, no matter what your wrist size is, it is most likely to fit without any hassle.
There are two issues I have with them, though. One is that the end of the strap might be exposed a bit on people with larger wrists that have to wear the strap a bit looser. It just doesn’t look good. Another drawback is that they are a nightmare to clean. People working in professions with high exposure to fluids and dirt on a daily basis (ie. EMTs or surgeons), should avoid them at all costs.