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Handling the Crown basics

The crown ("winding knob") on your watch. I have two upcoming Horologium articles on the keyless works (winding and setting) and the motion works (under the dial mechanism that powers the hands), but in the meantime, a few simple practices:

  • The time may be set backwards or forwards. In general, it is best to go in the direction that will require least rotation to get there.
  • The exception to #1 is with calendar mechanisms, or other complications. Generally, you should not set the time backwards while these mechanisms are engaged or set the time backwards by passing through the normal periods of engagement. Each watch varies, so consult the manufacturer on this. If in doubt, set the time forward and correct the complication (such as a calendar) afterwards.
  •  When setting the time forward, do so with short, brisk turns, rather than slow, extended ones. This will prevent overbanking, particularly if the cannon pinion is too tight.
  •  When manually resetting a calendar, do so slowly. These mechanisms are not made for high speed operation.
  •  Winding may be done by turning the crown only clockwise, or by turning it to and fro. I prefer the former because it doesn't wear the castle gear (clutch in U.S. terminology) and crown wheel (winding pinion). Do, however, give an occasional back turn to redistribute lubricants.
     
  • Hand wind automatics only if necessary. Most automatics worn daily do not need a "touch up" each morning. Hand winding an automatic when it is fully wound is unnecessary and the most likely to cause wear. When you hear a slight, intermittent clicking during hand winding, stop, because this means the watch is fully wound (this is the spring bridal slipping in the barrel).
  •  Do, however, give any automatic a few turns of manual winding occasionally to redistribute lubricants in the mechanism and seals.
  • Never use force in pulling out the crown. If you feel resistance, rotate it slightly and gently as you pull it out. This will help align the castle wheel and intermediate hand setting wheel.
  • When pushing in the crown, do so gently. If there is resistance, rotate is slightly and gently as you push. This will help alight the castle wheel and crown gear.
  •  If you feel an increase in roughness or resistance during winding or hand setting this means that the keyless works need lubrication.
     
  • If you feel a decrease in resistance during hand setting, the cannon pinion may be loose and require adjustment. This will often be accompanied by hand slippage that may give the appearance of incorrect rate