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How to Set the Time and Date on a Watch

June 05 2019

Once you’ve wound your watch you need to set the time and possibly the date.

You don’t have to be a genius but there are some things that you need to keep in mind, especially when setting the date.

Never set the time while wearing the watch. Remove your watch from your wrist and hold it in one hand so you can set the time with the other.

How to set the time

Pull the crown all the way out and use your thumb and index finger to set the time.


How to set the date

Non quickset

Some movements, mostly older movements, don’t have a quickset feature. That means that you have to keep rotating the hands in 24-hour cycles, 1 day at a time, to set the date.

If the date on your watch is 20 days behind, you have some work to do. It’s sad but true.

I’ve seen people selling their watch or neglecting the date feature because it was such a drag.


The quickset is often the setting (of the crown) in between winding your watch and setting the time. Sometimes it can also be something different like pushing the crown.

You can use it to quickly set the date wheel to the correct date. However, there’s one important rule.

It’s very important NOT to use the quickset to set the date between 9 PM and 3 AM. With that, I mean the time on your watch, not the actual local time.

The reason is that the quickset and the calendar works are 2 separate mechanisms.

The date starts to slowly change at 9 PM. The date changing mechanism engages with the date wheel and it’s not fully disengaged till after 3 AM. You’ll force the date wheel and the date jumper if you try to use the quickset at the same time. This will, most likely, damage the movement. The calendar pieces are delicate and expensive parts, so keep that in mind.

A safe way to set the time and date with a quickset is the following. Make sure that the watch’s time isn’t between 9 PM and 3 AM. If you don’t know when a watch stopped, find midnight first by spinning the hands forward until the date changes and set it past 3 AM. Then, use the quickset to set the date to one day before the actual date. Finally, spin the hands clockwise until you’ve set the time and date accurately.