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, hover your mouse or 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.