How to Wind an Antique Pocket Watch

by Vanessa Padgalskas ; Updated September 28, 2017

An antique pocket watch is a mechanical winding watch, which means it runs once its springs are wound. A mechanical watch is unlike a quartz watch, which is battery powered, or a form of automatic watch, such as an eco-drive or kinetic watch, which are powered automatically from natural movement or sunlight. An antique pocket watch must be wound every one to two days to prevent it from stopping.

Determine whether you must unscrew the crown before winding it. Try to turn the crown counterclockwise to unscrew it. If the crown pops out away from the watch, pull the crown out one notch after you have unscrewed it. Not all crowns need to be unscrewed.

Put your thumb and forefinger on the crown and rotate the crown clockwise. Wind the watch until you feel resistance. This could take between 20 and 40 rotations.

Stop winding the watch once you feel resistance. Push down on the crown and screw it back into the watch by twisting it clockwise.


  • It is recommended to wind the watch every day, so the watch does not stop working. Mechanical problems can result if the watch is left unwound for a period of time.

About the Author

Vanessa Padgalskas was born and raised in Spokane, Wash., and currently resides in Portland, Ore. Padgalskas graduated from American University in 2007 with degrees in international studies and economics. She holds a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.