How To Wind A Pocket Watch With And Without A Key?




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Like other mechanical watches, you need to wind your pocket watch so that it will keep running. But, the process of winding can be different for various watches.

Wind A Pocket Watch With And Without A Key

For some watches, you need a key to wind them. On the other hand, some watches do not need a key. This may lead you to wonder, how to wind a pocket watch with or without a key.

Here is a related article that might interest you on How Often Do You Wind A Pocket Watch?

If you own a pocket watch, you must know how to wind your pocket watch. The process is very simple. 

Let’s start by explaining the procedures right now. You can follow along as you read about it.

How To Wind A Pocket Watch With and Without a Key?

Pocket watches have a spring inside them. The tensile force created in that spring through winding keeps them running. You can create that tension by winding the spring. Whether you need a key to wind the spring depends on the model of the pocket watch you own. 

How To Wind A Pocket Watch With A Key?

We will go over this procedure stepwise to explain it more clearly.

Step 1: Lifting The Back Cover

If your pocket watch needs a key for winding, you need to start by opening the back cover of your watch. This back cover protects your watch back. This means it is a completely separate part from your watch back.

Simply push the back cover in an outward direction. The back cover is hinged to your watch case. It should open up easily. However, in case the back cover seems stuck, you can use a pen knife. Gently push the back cover to open it. 

Step 2: Locating The Winding Square

Once you have opened the back cover, You need to locate the winding square. Well, you may not know what a winding square is. On your watch back, you should see a hole. That is the winding square.

Step 3: Winding The watch

Now, you have to get the key that came with your pocket watch. After that, put the key into the keyhole. Following that, rotate the key in a clockwise direction. You will feel the mainspring winding up. 

You have to keep winding up to the moment you feel some resistance. Feeling this resistance indicates that the mainspring is wound up.

However, if you do not feel any resistance from the watch, it most likely means that the watch is damaged.

Step 4: Resetting The Time

There is another step after winding the watch. You have to reset the time of your pocket watch. To do that, firstly, locate the indentation or notch around the front of your watch. Some of the watch fronts are hinged. 

If there is a notch present, apply pressure to it gently. You can use either your fingers or a pen knife. In case the watch front is hinged, you can easily open it with your fingers. 

Then, place the key in the square holding the dials. After that, you have to rotate the key to move the dial hands. Using the key, adjust your time.

Here’s a video tutorial to help you:

How To Wind A Pocket Watch Without A Key?

You can wind your pocket watch without a key in a few steps.

Step 1: Adjusting The Dials

Firstly, pull out the crown at the top of your pocket watch. You don’t need to pull it all the way out. Rather, pull it out until you hear a click. 

Then, rotate the crown. You should see the dial hands moving. Set your time to its correct value. 

Step 2: Winding The Watch 

After you have adjusted the time, push the crown inwards. Then, rotate the crown forward and backward, turning the crown halfway on each rotation. This should wind the mainspring. As you keep rotating the crown, you should feel it getting a bit tighter. Once fully wound, the crown will resist the rotation. 

Then, lift your fingers from the crown and you should see the watch working.

You can see this tutorial to understand this procedure better:

How To Wind a Waltham Pocket Watch?

Waltham pocket watches generally are wound without a key. So, the process is the same as we have discussed in how to wind a pocket watch without a key.

Just rotate the crown and give about 30-40 half turns. You must stop when you feel resistance. After that, adjust the time of your watch. That should wind your Waltham pocket watch.

Also, make sure to check out my post on How Do I Identify My Elgin Pocket Watch And Its Value? 

Frequently Asked Questions [ FAQs ]

In this section of the article, we are going to answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding “How To Wind A Pocket Watch With And Without A Key?’

How Many Times Should You Wind A Pocket Watch?

Answer: You should wind your pocket watch at least once a day. You can rotate the crown about 30-40 times. The rotations should be half turns, both in a clockwise and anticlockwise direction.

What Is A Pocket Watch Key?

Answer: For the early pocket watches, there was a key needed to set the time and wind the watch. This key varies in size and shape, depending on the watch model. Such keys are termed pocket watch keys. 

Do You Wind A Watch Clockwise Or Counterclockwise?

Answer: You have to rotate the crown clockwise to wind a watch. Most mechanical watches support the counterclockwise movement. But, rotating the crown counterclockwise does not wind your watch.

How Do You Know If A Watch Is Overwound?

Answer: You will feel the crown rotating counterclockwise easily. Along with that, you will hear little clicks from the crown. Also, the watch will resist motions in the clockwise direction.


From this article, you should have a detailed idea about how to wind a pocket watch with or without a key.

To wind your watch, precision is key. Just don’t be careless, especially while winding your pocket watch. Or else you might end up damaging the internals of your pocket watch. Repairing this will cost a fortune.

However, following the article properly should be enough for you to avoid any serious problems. 

Best of luck!

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