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how to set a time on a watch

How to Set a Time on a Watch: Tips for Mechanical Timepiece

Simple tips and tricks for mastering the art of setting time and date on your mechanical timepiece. Learn the details in this article!
May 03, 2024

If you recently became interested in the fascinating world of a mechanical watch, the intricacies of this timepiece may be unfamiliar to you. The most basic question you probably have might be how to set a time on a watch that is mechanical.

Well, setting the time on a mechanical watch may appear to be simple, but there is a chance that you could accidentally harm the watch’s movement if you are not being careful.

Thus, setting a time on a watch generally consisted of two basic rules: turn the hands clockwise and adjust the date more than 3 hours away from midnight.

Well, remembering the rules may be insufficient to know how to set a time on a watch, which is mechanical, especially if you are new to it. 

But you can put your worries to rest as we will provide you with tips about how to set a time on a watch that is mechanical. Check them out below!

Get to Know About Mechanical Watches

Before exploring how to set a time on a watch that is mechanical, we will give you an overview of mechanical watches, so you become more familiar with them.

A mechanical watch is a timepiece that requires meticulous attention from its owner, particularly the winding and time setting. Both the process of winding and time setting provides an opportunity for direct interaction with the movement.

Well, indeed, each mechanical watch has its own tactile feedback that is resulted from a combination of the movement and the craftsmanship of the watchmaker when constructing the case and crown.

If you wear manual winding, it may be a hassle to set the time. However, if you wear an automatic timepiece and you wear it daily, the automatic watch maintenance won’t be a hassle as it will require less frequent settings.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that most simple automatic watches with a date function will require periodic adjustment unless they are perpetual calendars.

All in all, the beauty of mechanical watches lies in the intimate relationship between the owner and their timepiece while maintaining the watch as well as ensuring its accuracy.

Therefore, while maintaining your timepiece, remember to note the basic rules of how to set a time on a watch that is mechanical, as previously mentioned at the beginning of this article.

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How to Set a Time on a Watch

Now that you have already become familiar with the mechanical watch, let us explore tips on setting a time on the watch! 

Setting the Time

There are several steps you must do to adjust the time on your watch. The very first step you can do is to start by pulling the crown all the way out from the case.

Next, you may rotate the watch crown clockwise until the time is set. After setting the hands to the correct time, you may push the crown back in to complete the process.

Setting the Day and Date

After learning how to set a time on a watch, the next thing you may need to learn is how to adjust the day or date. In order to set up the day or date, there are some things you can do.

First, to adjust the day and date on your watch, you may start by pulling the crown out one click away from the case. Then, you can rotate the crown in a clockwise direction to adjust the day and in a counter-clockwise direction to adjust the date.

Once the day and date are correctly set, you can push the crown back in to finish the process.

While setting up the day and date, there is a thing you must note. It is strongly advised to avoid changing the day or date between 10 pm and 2 am. That is because the mechanical gears responsible for changing a watch’s day or date are active between 10 pm and 2 am.

Thus, changing the day or date during that time may result in permanent damage to the day or date wheel. And that can require costly repairs.

So, to prevent this damage, always ensure that the watch’s time is set to 6.30 before attempting to change the day or date. That time is considered a safe time as it avoids the period when the gears are active.

Additionally, the 6:30 position is easy to remember as both the hour and minute hands are almost vertically aligned.

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Problems that may arise while Setting the Time or Date

After learning the tips on how to set a time on a watch that is mechanical, the information that may be useful for you are the problems you may face while setting the time or date. Check them out below!

The Trouble of Pulling the Crown Out

The possible problem that may arise when you set up the time, day, or date in your mechanical watches may be the trouble of pulling the crown out.

If that really happens, you don’t need to panic. If that happens, there is the possibility that the crown is a screw-down crown that has the function of preventing water from getting in, and it is commonly used in dive watches.

To unscrew a screw-down crown, you can just rotate it in a counter-clockwise direction until you feel it start to loosen. Make sure to unscrew the crown fully from the threads to completely detach it from the case before adjusting the time.

The Day or Date Wheel Appears to Be Stuck

Another problem that may arise when you set up the day or date is that the day or date wheel on your timepiece appears to be stuck.

Some people might assume that their watch’s day or date wheel is stuck because it appears to be between two days or dates. However, in most watches, especially those that are not high-end luxury pieces, the transition between days or dates may take several hours.

To resolve this issue, you can simply pull the crown out to position two (the furthest away from the watch) and adjust the time ahead to 6:30. This will advance the watch’s time to the next day, allowing the day/date transition to take place.


In conclusion, knowing the proper way how to set a time on a watch that is mechanical is an essential skill that the watch owner must have.

We hope that by following the tips and tricks outlined in this article, you can ensure that your watch is always keeping accurate time and functioning smoothly.

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