How to wind a pocket watch

A guide to winding mechanical pocket watches; learn of the different ways on how to set a pocket watch.

Useful tips in winding pocket watches. Learn how to set a pocket watch without going to a horologist
Antique pocket watches are powered by a mechanical movement. Since this type of mechanism isn’t battery-powered, the owner has to wind it constantly to keep it ticking.

Pocket watches come in different styles. Each pocket watch type has a specific way of winding and setting the time.

Below are instructions on how to wind each the five most common styles of pocket watches.

Key wind pocket watches

Early pocket watches have key-wind and key-set movements. This kind of pocket watch has two small keyholes at the back. The first hole is for setting the time while the other hole is for winding. Turning the pocket watch key operates the winding arbor which is connected to the minute-wheel and to the rest of the gears inside.

Stem wind pocket watches

The famous pocket watch brand Patek-Philippe is credited for developing the stem-wind and stem-set mechanical movement.

Thus, the pocket watch runs by turning the winding stem. Stem set pocket watches remain the most common movement type even until today.

Lever set pocket watch

Railroad pocket watches are required to have the stem-wind and lever-set movement.

To set the time, one needs to pull a small lever which turns the crown.

The lever is just below the 1 or 2 o’clock position, and it is accessed by opening the pocket watch bezel.

Some stem-wound hunter pocket watches have their lever between 4 and 5 o’clock positions.

Pin set pocket watch movement

Others call this the nail set pocket watch movement because it has a small button the size of a fingernail.

Its function is similar to the small bar in lever wind pocket watches.

When pushed down, the button turns the crown to set the time. Most European pocket watches has pin set movements.

Pendant set pocket watch mechanism

To set the time, carefully pull up the pocket watch pendant then twist the crown to move the hands.

However, pendant-set pocket watches are easily broken when the spring under the pendant is pulled up too loose.