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How to Wind a Watch

Wind a Watch

Before the days of battery-operated watches, winding was a regular part of watch ownership. The watch, both the wrist and pocket variety, are wound not only to assure accurate time keeping, but also to maintain the internal mechanisms of the watch in good working order. However, there is more to winding a watch than grasping and turning; improper winding can damage the watch. Whether you own a wrist watch or a pocket watch, there is a method for properly winding them.

Determine whether it is a manual watch before trying to wind it. Look on the dial. If it says Quartz, Eco-Drive or Kinetic then this watch is not meant to be wound. Look for a battery cover on the back. If it has a second hand, watch it for a moment. A manually wound watch will move smoothly from one second to the next, while a battery-operated watch will hesitate slightly before jumping ahead.

Hold the wrist watch in the left hand, with the number "12" at the top and the stem on the right side. If you are winding a pocket watch, the stem is located under the loop the where the watch chain is attached. For both type of watches, pinch the stem between your thumb and forefinger and gently pull the stem out from the watch, to release the winding mechanism. Use one of the two following methods to wind the watch.

Wind the watch using the twist and release method. Wind the stem in a clockwise direction, toward the top of the watch and away from your body, one full turn. Continue winding the stem slowly and steadily, until your fingers can go no further. Release the stem, return your fingers to their initial position on the stem and wind again. Continue winding until the turning begins to feel hard; depending upon the individual watches, this could take upwards to 50 turns. Stop winding when at this point and then wind the stem backwards several times. This relieves the strain on the watches' internal mechanisms, especially on older models.

Wind the watch using the forward and reverse method. Instead of twisting and releasing, turn the stem forward and then backward without releasing it. Continue winding in this way until it gets hard to wind; stop winding at this point. This forward and reverse method accomplishes the same thing as the previous method of twising and releasing followed by the backwards twisting.

Push the stem back in to lock the winding mechanism in place. The watch is now ready to be worn or returned to the jewelry box. Let the watch wind down completely before rewinding it. If the watch is not worn every day, as in the case of dress watches, wind it completely on the same day each week.


Be sure to wind the watch all the way until you feel some resistance to ensure that the watch keeps accurate time.


  • Don't try to wind the wrist watch while you are wearing it. This will create uneven pressure on the stem while it is being wound and can damage it.
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