How to Set the Time, Day, and Date on a Mechanical Watch

If you’re new to the world of mechanical watches, you probably have many questions about how to use your watch starting with one of the most basic: how to set the time and day/date.

To set the time, day, and date, pull the crown out to the appropriate position, and rotate the crown until the time/day/date is set. To set the time, pull the crown out to position 2 and rotate it clockwise or counter-clockwise, then push the crown back in. To set the day and date, pull the crown out to position 1 and rotate it clockwise to change the day, and counter-clockwise to change the date.

Follow the instructions below, and feel free to drop a comment if you’re still having trouble.

Setting the Time


In order to set the time on your watch, you must:

  1. Pull the crown out all the way away from the case.
  2. Rotate the crown clockwise or counter-clockwise, which will rotate the hands, until the time is set.
  3. Once the hands are set at the correct time, push the crown back in to complete the process.

Setting the Day and Date


In order to set the day and date on your watch:

  1. Pull the crown out just one click away from the case.
  2. Rotate the crown clockwise (away from you) to change the day.
  3. Rotate the crown counter-clockwise (toward you) to change the date.
  4. Once the day and date are in the correct positions, push the crown back in to complete the process.

Warning… Avoid Setting the Day or Date During These Hours


Warning: NEVER change a watch’s day or date while the watch’s time is currently set between 10 pm and 2 am. On most watches, the mechanical gears that change the day and date are active between those times.

Set the time to 6:30 before changing the day or date to avoid damaging the day/date wheel

Changing the day or date during those times can chip a gear in your movement, causing permanent damage to your day or date wheel. This will require repair, or replacement, from an experienced watchmaker.

To avoid this: always make sure your watch’s time is set to 6:30 before changing the day or date. 6:30 can be considered a “safe zone” as it always avoids any potential times when the day and date wheel gears may be active.

Further, the 6:30 position is very easy to remember, since both the hour and minute hands are pointed almost straight down.

I Can’t Pull My Crown Out


If you’re having trouble pulling the crown out to set the time, day, or date, on your watch, it may be a screw-down crown.

Screw-down crowns are screwed onto the threads of a watch case and are used most often in dive watches to help improve their water resistance.

To unscrew a screw-down crown, simply rotate it counter-clockwise (toward you) until you start to feel it unscrew. Be sure to unscrew the crown from the threads ALL the way, to free it from the case completely, before attempting to set the time.

My Day or Date Wheel is Stuck? Is My Watch Broken?

The SKX013 day wheel takes a couple of hours to transition to the next day. It is NOT broken.

Some people may think their day or date wheel is currently stuck; as it is between two days or dates.

While this is a possibility, it’s more likely that what’s happening in the day or date and transitioning over. In most watches, especially watches that aren’t high-end luxury pieces, the day and date may take a few hours to completely transition.

To fix this, just pull the crown out to position two (furthest away from the watch) and rotate it forward to set the time ahead to 6:30. This will effectively turn the time on the watch to the next day, passing the day/date change transition.


Setting the time, day, and date on your watch can seem complicated until you know exactly how.

Set the watch’s crown to the correct position, either 1-click away from the case, to set the day/date, or 2 clicks away to set the time, as demonstrated in this tutorial, then rotate it until you achieve the desired time, day, or date.

Still having trouble setting the time, day, or date? Drop a comment below, and I’ll be glad to walk you through it!

– Anthony

15 thoughts on “How to Set the Time, Day, and Date on a Mechanical Watch”

  1. I have found that on most watches, mechanical or quartz, you pull the winder out one click for day/date and 2 clicks for time..
    Thanks for those steps and guide lines !

  2. I have a 1970 Elgin watch manual wind with day and date.
    Pulling stem to 1st click moving clockwise does nothing. 2nd click sets time. Counterclockwise removes the crown. Please help!

    • Sorry for the delayed response, Melody, your comments got caught in my spam filter. If you haven’t resolved it by now, try rotating it counterclockwise after unscrewing it.

  3. I own a Seiko SNKL23 and use it as my beater watch. When I pulled out another watch in rotation for a few days the SNKL23 had stopped around 11.30 PM. Since its bad to change the time during the 10 PM to 2 AM time frame like you mentioned, how can I adjust the time on this one?
    Do I just wear it without adjusting the time until it crosses the 2 AM mark or is there any other way to adjust the time without affecting the mechanism inside it?

    • Correction: it’s bad to change the day/date during those times, but it is fine to change the time! It is the day/date mechanisms that can get messed up when adjusting between 10 – 2.

  4. I have an old self winding Bulova day – date watch on which the crown will only come out to one position; the one where I can set the time. The watch runs ok and the date changes but not the day, and I can’t set either. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • Yes, older watches typically don’t have a dedicated crown slot for day or date setting, which we call ‘quickset’. In your case, you’ll have to go through the long-winded process of pulling the crown out one click, and simply winding the crown forward, until the desired date is set.

      If this is your only watch that you wear day in and out, this isn’t too time consuming. Set it once, and continue to manually wind your watch each night before bed, and it will continue to run, and hold the date. However, like any self-winding watch, once you stop winding it frequently, the time (and date) will stop, and you’ll need to set it once again when you pick it back up.

      Hope that helps, and do not hesitate to reach out again if you are still struggling.


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