How to wind a watch?

Most modern wrist watches are quartz, which run on batteries. Traditional mechanical watches, small fashion watches, or „vintage“ watches are powered by a spring mechanism. The spring tightens as you wind it and drives the watch as it unwinds. This mechanism keeps the wristwatch in time.

Winding a Mechanical Watch

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1. Lay the wristwatch on a table. 

Remove the wristwatch from your arm or storage. If you wind a watch while it is on the arm, with the watch tight against the skin, the winding motion may not be effective.

  • Winding a watch while attached to your arm places strain on the mechanics in the watch because of the angle on your arm and the stem.

  • Locate the stem, which will be pulled out to wind the watch. The stem is a small dial on the side of the watch.

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2. Hold the watch face up in your left hand.

Reverse the position, if you are left-handed. The stem may have several settings, including settings for time, calendar, alarm, or time zone. The settings are located at little „clicks“ as you pull the stem out or push it in. Use trial and error to feel the clicks and identify the winding position.

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3. Pull out the watch’s stem.

Use your thumb and index finger to carefully pull out the watch stem by the stem’s top or „crown.“ This can be difficult because you do not want to over-wind the mechanism.

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4. Wind the watch’s stem.

You should wind the watch clockwise until you feel resistance. Be conservative and don’t keep turning once you feel resistance. You can damage the watch if you continue to wind the stem past resistance. In time, you will develop a feel for the resistance.

  • If the watch runs down sooner than you like, you know you did not quite hit the maximum tension.

  • Depending on the size of the watch, 20 to 40 forward turns should lead to resistance; over-winding will strain or break the mechanism.

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5. Return the watch to its normal state.

Press the crown to return stem to its place. Be careful to put the watch’s components back exactly as you started. Never shove or force parts when handling the stem and crown of a watch.