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How To Use A Pocket Watch

How to Use A Pocket Watch

Pocket watches have made a comeback and more and more people are finding them to be both fun to own and fashionable. In this article we will cover the most common basic features of modern pocket watches and we will discuss the basics of winding, setting time, setting the date and hopefully help you get more enjoyment out of your pocket watch.

How to open a pocket watch

If your pocket watch has a cover it has what is known as a hunter case. There are many variations of pocket watch cases, but essentially they all open the same way. On the top of the crown (most common) or on the side of the watch case (uncommon) there is a small spring loaded latch button. Simply pressing downward on the button will release the latch that holds the cover closed. The watch cover will then spring open. If you have a double hunter (both front and back covers) watch you press the button lightly to the half way position and the front cover will be released, by fully depressing the button, both the front and back covers will open. It is also important to depress this button when closing your pocket watch. Never snap your pocket watch case to close it, this habit will cause the rim of the case to wear out at the location that engages the latch preventing the cover from saying closed.


How to wind a pocket watch

If you have a mechanical pocket watch it will need to be wound daily. The watch is wound by turning the watch crown in a clockwise direction. Most watches take around 30-40 half turns to be fully wound. Stop winding when the crown no longer easily turns, you should feel a sudden stop. Be careful not to force the watch by over winding. You will over time get used to the feel of your watch, and winding will become second nature. During your daily winding is also a good time to double check and set the time.

Setting the time on a pocket watch

Most modern pocket watches are either quartz (battery powered) or mechanical (hand wound). The setting of the time is the same for both. First find the watch crown or stem. The crown is the small knob that is attached to the stem; it is located between the watch bow and case. Next you pull lightly outward on the crown. You will usually feel a click when you pull out the stem. Once the stem is in the fully extended position you then turn or twist the crown to adjust the hands of the watch. Once you have set the watch to the correct time you simply push the stem back in to the original position.

Setting the date on a pocket watch

Setting the date on your pocket watch is similar to setting the time. The difference is when you pull out the stem on watches with date feature you will feel two clicks. Each click is a different position.  The first click (we will call position 2) will adjust the date and the second click (position 3) will adjust the time. To set the date you pull the stem until you feel the first click, you are now in position 2. Next, you turn the crown to move the date wheel to the correct date. The date will change automatically at 12 midnight or at 12 noon if you are set in the wrong 12 hour cycle.


To prevent this common error you can simply set the date to yesterday’s date. Then pull the stem out to the third position and turn the watch hands forward, when you reach midnight the date will change to the correct date. If it’s morning (AM) set the time when the hands reach the correct hour if it’s afternoon (PM) continue moving the hands around the dial going past 12:00 once and then setting the time. This will put your watch in the correct 12 hour cycle.

We hope this guide has given you the basics to start enjoying and using your pocket watch. Collecting and owning pocket watches is a fun and enjoyable pursuit. There are hundreds of styles to choose from with a watch that is just right for every occasion.

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