How to Properly Wind and Set Your Mechanical Watch

watch mantiance
watch mantiance

Mechanical watches have a timeless appeal and craftsmanship that sets them apart from their digital counterparts. These exquisite timepieces are often considered more than just a means to tell time; they are also a symbol of precision engineering and classic style. To keep a mechanical watch running accurately and maintain its longevity, proper winding and setting are crucial. In this guide, we will delve into the intricacies of winding and setting a mechanical watch to ensure it remains a reliable companion for years to come.

watch mantiance
watch mantiance

The Basics of Mechanical Watches

Before we dive into the details of winding and setting a mechanical watch, it’s important to understand the fundamental components and workings of these timepieces. A mechanical watch is driven by a mainspring, a tightly wound coil of special alloy. As the mainspring unwinds, it releases energy through a series of gears and springs, ultimately driving the watch’s hands and regulating its timekeeping.

There are two main types of mechanical watches: manual and automatic. Manual watches require regular winding by turning the crown, while automatic watches are self-winding, relying on the motion of the wearer’s wrist to wind the mainspring.

Manual Mechanical Watches

Manual mechanical watches are cherished for their traditional charm and the ritual of winding them daily. To properly wind a manual mechanical watch, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a Consistent Time: To establish a routine, pick a convenient time to wind your watch, such as in the morning before you put it on your wrist.
  2. Unscrew the Crown: Locate the crown on the side of the watch case. Gently unscrew it counterclockwise until it pops out into the winding position. Be careful not to over-tighten or cross-thread the crown when screwing it back in.
  3. Turn the Crown: In the winding position, turn the crown clockwise, typically for about 20 to 30 full rotations. Be attentive to the resistance you feel; when you encounter firm resistance, this indicates that the mainspring is fully wound. Over-winding can damage the watch, so do not force it past this point.
  4. Set the Time: Once your watch is wound, gently pull the crown to its final position (the time-setting position). Turn the crown clockwise to set the correct time, making sure to synchronize the minute hand with a reliable time source, such as your phone or a wall clock.
  5. Push and Screw the Crown: After setting the time, gently push the crown back in and screw it clockwise to ensure it is secure against the case, preventing dust and moisture from entering the watch.

Automatic Mechanical Watches

Automatic mechanical watches are popular for their convenience, as they self-wind with regular wear. However, if an automatic watch has not been worn for a while or needs a little extra power, you can manually wind it using the same process as a manual watch. To properly wind an automatic mechanical watch, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a Consistent Time: Just like with a manual watch, select a regular time to wind your automatic watch. Winding it in the morning is a convenient choice.
  2. Unscrew the Crown: Locate the crown on the side of the watch case and unscrew it counterclockwise until it pops out into the winding position.
  3. Turn the Crown: Turn the crown clockwise in the winding position, typically for about 20 to 30 full rotations, or until you feel resistance. This winding supplements the power reserve in the mainspring.
  4. Set the Time: As with manual watches, pull the crown to the time-setting position and adjust the time. Ensure the minute hand is aligned with a reliable time source.
  5. Push and Screw the Crown: Gently push the crown back in and screw it clockwise to secure it against the case.

Wearing an Automatic Watch

The beauty of automatic watches lies in their self-winding mechanism. When you wear an automatic watch regularly, the motion of your wrist causes a rotor inside the watch to pivot, which winds the mainspring. To keep an automatic watch running optimally, consider wearing it daily or using a watch winder, a device that simulates wrist motion when your watch is not in use.

Watch Care and Maintenance

Proper winding and setting are essential components of maintaining your mechanical watch, but there are other aspects to consider to ensure its longevity and accuracy.


When you’re not wearing your watch, store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. A watch box or pouch can protect it from dust and humidity. Keep your watch away from strong magnetic fields, as these can affect its precision.


Every mechanical watch requires periodic servicing, typically every 3-5 years, to ensure it continues to function correctly. Servicing involves disassembling the watch, cleaning its components, and lubricating the movement. An experienced watchmaker or authorized service center should perform this maintenance.

Water Resistance

Not all mechanical watches are water-resistant, and even those that are have specific depth ratings. Check your watch’s water resistance and avoid exposing it to water beyond its capabilities. If your watch is water-resistant, have its seals checked during regular servicing to maintain its integrity.

Avoiding Shocks and Impact

Mechanical watches are delicate instruments. Avoid subjecting your watch to shocks, impacts, or strong vibrations, as these can disrupt the movement and accuracy.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

Even with proper care, issues can occasionally arise with mechanical watches. Here are some common problems and troubleshooting tips:

Inaccurate Timekeeping

If your watch is consistently running fast or slow, it may require regulation. Consult a professional watchmaker or an authorized service center for adjustment.

Stopped Watch

If your watch stops running, it could be due to insufficient winding. Try winding it manually as described earlier, and ensure it receives enough wrist motion if it’s an automatic watch.

Crown Issues

If the crown becomes difficult to turn or feels loose, seek professional assistance immediately to prevent further damage to the watch.


If you notice condensation or moisture inside the watch crystal, do not attempt to open the watch yourself. Take it to a professional for immediate inspection and repair.

Loss of Power Reserve

If your watch seems to lose its power reserve quickly, it may indicate a problem with the mainspring or movement. Schedule a service appointment to have it examined.


Properly winding and setting your mechanical watch is an essential aspect of owning and caring for these exquisite timepieces. Whether you have a manual or automatic watch, following the correct procedures for winding and setting will ensure your watch remains accurate and reliable. Additionally, practicing good watch care and maintenance, such as regular servicing, proper storage, and protecting it from water and shocks, will help preserve your watch’s beauty and functionality for years to come.

As you embrace the art of mechanical watch ownership, remember that these watches are more than just timekeeping devices; they are symbols of craftsmanship, tradition, and a connection to the past. By taking good care of your watch, you ensure that it continues to tell time with the precision and elegance that make mechanical watches truly timeless.


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