How do you Manually Wind a Rolex? Here’s how!

Rolex Yacht-Master 116621

How do you manually wind a Rolex?

Here’s how to wind a Rolex!

Different watches work in different ways. Some watches are powered by batteries, others run on the energy that is generated when they are wound.

All modern Rolex watches can be manually wound, and winding your Rolex is important in order to preserve your watch and keep its movement in good standing.

While many people are aware of the fact that Rolex watches use self-winding movements (automatic watches), not everyone knows that automatic movements should be manually wound occasionally as well.

But how do you manually wind a Rolex? What should you think about in order to avoid over-winding the movement? How much should you wind it and how often?

In this article, we will answer all your questions about how you manually wind a Rolex.

As mentioned, modern Rolex watches use self-winding movements. Rolex calls this ”Oyster perpetual”, as in theory, it means that the watch can continue ticking in perpetuity as long as it is on the wrist.

When you wear your Rolex watch and move your wrist, the movement will wind itself. It does this by using the movements of your wrist and conserves that energy in a mainspring.

However, just because you use your Rolex watch regularly doesn’t mean that you should not wind it. This is especially true if your Rolex has stopped due to running out of power.

Rolex’s Perpetual rotor

Rolex released the world’s first automatic timepiece and called it Oyster Perpetual. The automatic movement is, of course, a very clever piece of engineering as it makes use of the wearer’s wrist movements and uses that energy to power itself. Prior to this, only manual movements existed, which meant you have to manually wind it regularly, otherwise, it runs out of energy.

Why you should manually wind your Rolex watch

Now, there’s always a limit to how much you should do something until it has negative effects. The same goes for a Rolex movement.

The most important time to manually wind a Rolex watch is when it has stopped. Different Rolex watches have different power-reserve times. This means that if you put your Rolex watch on a table, for example, and then not wear it for a few days, it will have stopped.

Rolex Sky-Dweller 326934 black dial

A common misconception about what to do when a Rolex watch has stopped is that you should shake it so that it gets energy again, however, this is one of the reasons you should manually wind your Rolex in the first place, as you can risk damaging the movement  or wearing it out faster when you shake your watch vigorously.

If your watch has stopped, it may even take a bit of shaking before it starts, but by manually winding your Rolex watch, you can get it going again with ease.

It is also a good idea to regularly manually wind your Rolex in order to keep the movement lubed.  It is not uncommon for automatic watches to require hand winding after an extended period of time.

How to manually wind a Rolex watch

The power reserve of Rolex watches varies a bit between models, but if your Rolex watch has stopped, it is normally the power that has run out. This is a good time to manually wind your Rolex watch.

Rolex Yacht-Master 116621

Steps to follow to manually wind your Rolex

  1. Unscrew the screw-down winding crown by turning it counterclockwise until you can feel the crown popping out from the screws. This is of course only necessary if you have a screw-down crown Rolex watch. You now have the crown in the first position. If your watch does not have a screw-down crown, the crown is in its first position all the time. This means that you can simply begin winding it.
  2. Turn the winding crown gently about 30 to 40 times. If your watch has stopped, you will quite immediately be able to see that your Rolex is getting power as it will start ticking again after a while.
  3. Make sure that you continue to screw even if your Rolex watch starts ticking shortly after you begin screwing because otherwise, it won’t be fully charged and it risks stopping again. When you fully charge your watch, you know that you can put it down for some time, and then when you come back, it will still be up and running.
  4. Always make sure to screw back any screw-down crowns back into the case.
  5. When winding your Rolex watch, you will feel a slight resistance, and this resistance will become greater the more you wind it. To compare, you can wind the crown anti-clockwise (which does nothing at all) and get a sense of how it should feel when you wind a Rolex watch manually.

To wind your Rolex watch, use your thumb and index finger to slowly turn the crown clockwise in a full rotation. 

If your watch has stopped and still does not work after winding it, you may need to have it serviced or repaired as something may have broken inside the movement.

How to adjust the time on your Rolex watch

We have already made an extensive guide on how to adjust the time on a Rolex watch shall you wish to read that, but while we are on the topic of winding a Rolex watch, we can go over how to adjust the time briefly as well.

Because if your watch has run out of energy as a result of you putting it down, you will also need to change the time and possibly other functions such as the date.

Rolex Datejust 36 126234

So first off, you will have to wind it, then set it.

Different models are operated in different ways, but the basics are generally the same.

Crown position 0: The position 0 of your crown is the wearing position. This means the position in which your crown is pushed in all the way, and if it has a screw-down, it has been screwed down.

Crown position 1. When you have wound your Rolex, you can take it to position 1. This is the position of your watch where you change the date (if your watch has such a feature). Once the crown has popped out naturally at position 1, you can gently pull the crown out with one click. The quickset date function comes in very handy as it allows you to set the date rapidly.

Crown position 3: Position 3 of your crown is the position where you adjust the time of your watch. Through this position, you can reset the hands either clockwise or counterclockwise. Modern Rolex movements also have what is called a hacking function which means that when you pull out the crown to the third position, the second-hand stops so you can set the time more accurately.

When you are done, make sure you push in or screw down the crown to position 0 to ensure the movement is protected and water-resistant.

Can you overwind a Rolex watch?

You cannot overwind a modern Rolex watch when manually winding it. Today, Rolex designs its watches so that you cannot overwind them no matter how much you wind. The winder simply disengages once it reaches max wind. However, have in mind that it has not always been like that. This means that it is possible to overwind an older Rolex watch that does not have this technical feature. What will happen if you do is the spring will break and it will need to be replaced.

2 thoughts on “How do you Manually Wind a Rolex? Here’s how!

  1. Define “modern Rolex” and “older Rolex” – (ladies)

    1. Hi,
      There’s no official definition but the definition we generally use is “older”= watches made prior to the year 2000 and “modern”= Rolex watches made after the year 2000, or, depending on the context, in the last 5 years or so.

      Kind regards,
      Millenary Watches

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