How to Repair Broken Garmin Watchband Pin Supports
This post outlines how to repair broken Garmin watchband pin supports, also known as “strap lugs” or “ears.”
Judging by this thread, there are many other people who have experienced this problem with Garmin watches, including at least these models:
- Garmin 245
- Garmin 645
- Garmin 645 Music (the one I have)
- Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music
- Garmin Vivoactive HR
In my case, the watch was perfect for about 18 months before one of the plastic ears broke. Then, in the next few months, two more broke. I am waiting for the fourth one to break.
For several other people, the pin supports broke after 15-18 months too—perhaps aging of the plastic caused it to become brittle. Each time the plastic broke, not very much force was applied to the watch band to pull it out of the watch casing along with a metal pin collar insert.
The first time it broke, I was merely doing the push-ups. I did have the watch band a bit tight, and the expansion of my wrist caused the strap lug to break.
Below are three practical solutions.
Solution #1: Contact Garmin to Replace the Watch
One thing about Garmin—a great American company based in Olathe, Kansas—is that their customer support is superb and they stand by their products, often even when they are long out of warranty. I say this based off my experiences with Garmin in the late naughts when the company’s bulky, early generation GPS watches would frequently “brick,” and people’s experiences in the thread I alluded to earlier.
In that thread, people reported Garmin was replacing the broken watches with refurbished ones. Garmin must recognize that this is a common and unacceptable problem with the Forerunner 645, because they even have an online tool for exchanging a broken one with a damaged watch casing.
However, it makes sense that the refurbished watches will eventually break too. Indeed, many people have experienced just that.
When my watch first broke I didn’t search the internet and realize that Garmin was replacing the watches. So instead, I went about repairing it myself. The section and photos below describe and illustrate how I did so. Repairing your watch reduces downtime and electronic waste and may be your only option, short of buying a new watch, if Garmin opts not to replace your broken one.
Solution #2: Repair the Watch with JB Weld
I repaired the watch using JB Weld.
JB Weld is a two-part epoxy that costs around $5. It creates a super strong bond that is grindable and sandable. I’ve used it to repair a cylinder head on an old British roadster, among other things. It is a must-have item to have in your toolbox.
It does take about 24 hours to fully cure (dry). But when it does, it is much stronger than the original plastic used to make the Garmin watch cases.
When the watchband/watch pin “pulls out” of the Garmin watch, it is essential that you don’t lose the pin collar/metal insert that the pin goes into.
But if you lose the collar, I have a solution for that too! I made a new pin collar using the outer cylinder of an extra 1.5-mm outer diameter, 20mm-long watch pin I had lying around. (They are available on eBay for a few dollars.) I used a Dremel cutting wheel to cut the cylinder down to size.
After using JB Weld, I used a black Sharpie pen to color the grey epoxy after it fully dried.
The photos illustrate how I did the repair. The photos are captioned and hopefully are adequate for you to do something similar. (If you are viewing this page on a desktop web browser, click on the photos to display the captions.)
If you need more details on the procedures, feel free to ask any questions using the comment form below.
Solution #3: Use Super Glue
When a third watchband pin support broke, I was in Spain and didn’t have JB Weld with me. However, I did have Super Glue.
Super Glue worked and its advantage was that it was super quick as it dries in minutes. However, using it doesn’t look as good as when I applied, shaped, and colored the JB Weld epoxy. While the Super Glue has held up, I don’t have as much confidence in its strength as I do in JB Weld. Therefore, I view this as a temporary fix.
When I come back to my house in Colorado, I will re-do that “ear” (by sanding, chipping, or grinding off some of the excess Super Glue) and apply JB Weld instead. I may also pre-emptively apply JB Weld on the fourth “ear” that has not broken yet.
There are 14 comments.
Did you leave the pin in when you applied the JB Weld? Did it come out after that if you did or was it also welded in?
Hi Janna. When I applied the JB Weld to the pin collars and watch body, I did not leave the pin in. I imagine if I did, it would be hard to remove it, and I wanted to retain the ability to swap watchbands.
Good luck! Feel free to drop me a line if you have any other questions.
Hi Felix, great article, thank you.
I have not had luck with 2-part quick epoxy from harbor freight - seems it doesn’t adhere well to the plastic body of a Forerunner 45 (and an FR45S as well).
Prepping the case by degreasing and finishing with acetone did not help.
The glued posts broke off when tightening the screws on the band.
Did you do any special surface prep work prior?
Beyond wiping the watch down with alcohol, I did not do any special surface preparation. The key, I think, was the type of epoxy I used.
I used JB Weld and waited for it to cure for 36-48 hours. (JB Weld's guidelines are 15-24 hours, so I was extra cautious.)
I have never tried using Harbor Freight's quick epoxy. But I have used JB Kwik--the quick-curing version of JB Weld--on other items. My impression was JB Weld's adhesion and strength were superior to JB Kwik's.
Try using JB Weld instead. Good luck!
Buy the replacement body from AliExpress for a bargain and watch YouTube videos on how to disassemble and fix it.
A quick internet search for the watch case on AliExpress shows this is indeed a possibility. Thanks for the tip!
Thanks so much for this! I just used this same method to repair a pin support on a AmazFit GTS 2 Mini smartwatch.
I just put the strap back on and so far it's holding and you're right - the JB Weld seems stronger than the original plastic. Time will tell if this is a permanent(-ish) repair.
That's a bummer that a pin support on your AmazFit smartwatch broke too. I'm glad this article could help!
I hope the repair is more or less permanent. Please report back in the future if you can!
Thank you very much. It helped me a lot. Garmin asked me $130 for a replacement which is still a refurbished one on top.
But I recommend everyone to put the JB Weld on all 4 of them. I looked at the other 3, like just seemed like hairline cracks, but with a little pressure with a knife, they separated very easily. Meaning, they would have broken very soon. And you don’t want to spend more time fixing the watch again.
I used JB Weld original and I waited for more than 24 hours for it to cure. I’ve been wearing the watch (fr 645 music) for more than 3 weeks now and the glue is holding good. The tip about using a metal insert in this blog helps a lot too, don’t skip it.
Hi Ndriana. Thanks for your comment. That's too bad Garmin didn't offer a free replacement.
I'm glad the JB Weld fix worked for you!
Thank you for this post! I was also offered a refurbished replacement for $130 for my 645 Music. I held onto the watch hoping they would eventually replace it for free due to the ongoing issue; however, after 6+ mos the same offer stands. With this tutorial I made a new pin with wire cutters and mini needle nose pliers I had on hand and used the JB weld original method. I also used it to reinforce the other three ears as two also had hairline cracks forming. Thank you to previous posters who had mentioned taking a closer look!
Great job on fixing yours! I'm glad this post helped. Thanks for the info regarding Garmin no longer offering free replacements!
Thank you Felix!! I used your instructions to fix my garmin music 245 and it worked perfectly! $AU16 for the JB weld, $AU30 for new strap and $46 total for a satisfying DIY versus $400 for a new watch and the wastage of the still-technically sound old one.
Hi Kate. Thanks for stopping by my website and for leaving your comment. I am glad the article was helpful and that you could repair your Garmin, especially since it seems like Garmin is no longer replacing out-of-warranty watches with that problem for free anymore.
I hope you can get many more years out of your watch. Take care!