General Question

ibstubro's avatar

Is there a way to increase/return pliability to silicone?

Asked by ibstubro (10885 points ) January 18th, 2014

I have a discontinued Fossil watch, and the (non-replaceable) silicone band has become stiff. Soon to be brittle. Is there a way to make it soft again?

I have asked this question on other social sites with no definitive answer, but a lot of ‘chime ins’ about everything from stethoscopes to shoes. There is definitely a need/question ‘out there’.

**Note: this is more of physics type question than a “have you tried baby oil” type question. No offense, but I only have one watchband left and I can’t ‘voodoo’ on it.**

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8 Answers

RocketGuy's avatar

No, just go get a new one. Nothing bonds to silicone.

hearkat's avatar

I have never heard of any methods for restoring pliability to silicone. We mold earpieces for hearing aids and earplugs out of silicone, but I’m guessing the use different compounds, because they seem to hold flexibility well, despite daily use. However, they do change color, which I’m sure would have been unacceptable for a watch band.

ibstubro's avatar

I can’t get a new one, that’s the problem. Discontinued, @RocketGuy.

Thanks, @hearkat. It’s black, so discoloration’s not a problem. I know this is an area of your expertise, so I appreciate the input.

hearkat's avatar

Ha! I have some experience working with silicone, but not expertise. Some of the earmolds will turn milky white with repeated use – especially with people who are more prone to perspiration, so discoloration could be a concern even with black. I was guessing that the manufacturer had various colors and wanted them to stay true so they may have had to choose colorfastness over flexibility when deciding on what compound to use.

Even though the specific watch is discontinued, have you double-checked with Fossil that the watch band can not be replaced? Sometimes they just need special gadgets to remove the old ones… the pins aren’t always visible.

ibstubro's avatar

Fossil does not make replacement bands, @hearkat. Ticked me off, as I believe they once advertised replacement parts for the life of the product.

I have a ‘new, old stock’ watch on the way (from eBay). That will tell me if silicone brittles with age alone, or with use.

hearkat's avatar

Ahhh… when you said “non-replaceable” in the Question, I thought you meant that it physically could not be removed and replaced. There are generic watch bands available, if the eBay purchase does not meet your expectations. It seems that getting the right fit and style could be a challenge, though. Good Luck!

RocketGuy's avatar

The watch guy at my local CVS carries generic watch bands.

NanoNano's avatar

There are two types of plastic, thermosetting and thermoplastic.

The former, including plastics like polyurethane (styrofoam) and polyesters cannot be melted and remolded. Their shape is permanent and if you try to melt them they will burn.

Silicone is a type of vulcanized rubber that is cured, making it a thermosetting plastic.

Polyethylene and polypropylene are the two most common types of thermoplastics. They can be melted and remolded without losing their chemical properties.

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