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How do I wind a mechanical watch?

Before you do anything, make sure it’s really a mechanical. If it says Quartz, Eco-Drive, Automatic or Kinetic on the dial somewhere, it’s not a manual wind. If your Quartz watch has stopped, you can get it running by replacing the battery at your local jeweler or mall watch shop. Most military watches are Quartz even though they may not say so on the dial. The best way to tell is to look for a battery hatch on the back, or, if it’s running, watch for the second hand to jump between each second. Mechanical movements usually have a smoother transition from second to second with a few transitional movements in between. If you’re sure it’s a mechanical watch, and it needs winding, follow these steps.

  1. Check to see if it has a screw-down crown, if it does unscrew it to ready it for winding. If, when you start to wind the crown, it starts to screw itself back in, you may need to gently pull the crown out one stop.If you have a normal crown, i.e., non-screw-down, you can just wind it without any preliminaries.
  2. Wind the watch by turning the crown clockwise a number of complete revolutions. With the watch face-up in your left hand, pinch the crown between your right forefinger and thumb and rotate the crown clockwise. “Clockwise” means rotating it away from you. Wind slowly and consistently. Wind the crown as far as you can in each turn and then release it and start again. Wind it this way until you start to feel some increased resistance. Be patient. For a completely unwound mainspring, this can take from 20 to more than 40 or 50 revolutions.
  3. After you feel resistance stop winding. NB: Some watch experts suggest that you wind the crown backwards (counterclockwise) five or six turns. This may help re-distribute some lubricant, and, in the case of some early or special models, it may relieve some strain on the watch’s inner workings. In any case, doing this “back-winding” won’t harm your watch.Many people prefer to wind a watch using a rocking motion, i.e., alternating rotating the crown clockwise and then counter-clockwise. You can wind the watch in this way without having to remove your fingers from the crown. This has exactly the same effect on winding the mainspring as the clockwise-only approach, and it has the added benefit of putting a little back-wind into each cycle.If you have a manual wind watch, try to wind it at the same time every day. Winding it in the morning is best because you will have consistent power throughout the day. This may also contribute to more accurate timekeeping.
  4. When the watch is fully wound you will feel resistance as the mainspring tightens. That’s enough winding. Don’t try and force it any further. You could damage both the mainspring and components in the escapement and damage of this type is not covered by the guarantee.
  5. When winding a manual wind watch, it is advisable to take off the watch. If you keep the watch on while you wind it, you may put unnecessary strain on the winding stem at all points but particularly where the stem attaches to the winding crown.What about Automatics? Some self-winding mechanical watches (also known as “automatics”) can also be wound manually. Check your documentation to see if your watch can be hand wound. If it can, you may want to wind it, at least several revolutions, each day to insure an adequate power reserve, or, if its power reserve has run out and the watch has stopped, you can wind it to give it a jump start.
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