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How to Wind a Rolex Watch and Set it on Time - Submariner, Datejust, Daytona & GMT Master

by Dan Alvarez 28 Feb 2015

“How do I wind my Rolex correctly?” “Do I turn the crown forward or backwards?” “My Rolex watch do I set it on time again?”

These are typical questions that customers who buy a Rolex from us ask, typically after they leave our store with their watches on.

It's not that we do not show them how it is done. We do, right after they make a purchase. It's just that some customers either forget quickly or don't pay much attention during the initial explanation. It is as if the excitement of having new luxurious work of art on their wrists mesmerizes their neurons into a euphoric state where they stop firing!

That's the reason that our very own luxury watch expert, Eric Rivera, created this video. Whether you want to buy a Submariner, Datejust or Daytona, Eric's video will show you the correct way to wind your Rolex and set its time or date. This is important, because it will prolong the life of your watch and prevent unnecessary damage.

How to Wind a Rolex Datejust and Submariner

At the start of the video, Eric has four watches lined up in front of him. The first two (from left to right) are the Rolex Submariner and the Datejust II.

Since both of these watches require the same process to wind them up and set their date and time, Eric just uses the Submariner to illustrate the necessary step-by-step procedure (this technique also applies to the Rolex Yacht-Master).

The first step in winding the Rolex Sub is to unscrew the crown by turning it counterclockwise or backwards (towards you if you're holding the watch with the dial facing you).

Eventually the crown will pop out to the winding position.

Even though all of the luxury watches in the video are automatic, which means that their mechanisms are designed to self-wind the watch using the natural motions of the wearer's body, idle watches eventually stop telling time.

If a Rolex is tucked away in a safe or drawer for a few days, it will require some quick manual winding to kick off its automatic function once more.

To start the winding process, Eric recommends that you hold the crown using two fingers at the same time to avoid the unnecessary stress that's placed on the crown if only one finger is used to turn it.

As Eric suggests, turning the crown forward around 15 times will pace enough tension on the spring to keep the watch running again, as the automatic function takes over.

Can a Rolex Watch be Wound Backwards?

This is a common question that customers have, as they wonder whether they should wind their Rolexes forward (clockwise) or backwards (counterclockwise).

The proper way to wind a Rolex is by turning the crown clockwise or forward. When this is done, you will feel the tension on the crown and hear a subtle clicking as it turns.

Winding the crown backwards doesn't really do anything. It will not wind the watch, but will not damage it either.

Setting the Correct Date on Your Rolex Timepiece

After the Rolex Submariner is wound, it is time to set the correct date on the watch. This requires that the crown be moved outwards to a different position.

You first need to pull the crown out, as shown in the video, until it clicks. The click will indicate that the crown is in the correct position for the day of the month to be set.

As the crown is turned clockwise or forward, the value of the date displayed on the watch will increase by one day at a time. Continue winding the watch until the correct date is shown through the date window.

Setting the Rolex Submariner on Time

After the date is set on the watch, it is time to set it on time. This requires yet again another crown adjustment.

Pull the crown out once more and, when it clicks, continue turning it until the hour and minute hands are in the correct position. As Eric demonstrates in the video, if the crown is turned forwards, the hands will spin in a clockwise fashion and the hours/minutes will increase. On the other hand, if the crown is turned backwards, this will move the hands of the watch in a counterclockwise direction, decreasing the time as you go.

You can turn the crown in either (or both) directions to set it on time.

On the video, Eric sets the time on the Submariner to 8:30.

After the time is set, it is time to return the crown to its original position. To do this, simply push the crown all the way in and tighten it by screwing it forward until it is snug. To avoid damaging the Rolex, care must be taken as to not over-tighten the crown.

The Rolex Daytona – No Date Setting Needed

The next watch on Eric's list is the Rolex Daytona. The process to wind and set the Daytona is a much simpler one than for the other watches shown on the video because the Daytona does not have a date display. Only the time on the watch needs to be set.

The process to wind the Daytona is the same as for the Sub and Daydate. The crown must be first unscrewed and then wound around 15 times in a clockwise direction.

To process to set the Daytona on time is also the same as what Eric initially showed. After the crown is pulled out and clicks, it needs to be turned forward until the correct time is set. On the video, Eric sets the Rolex Daytona to 2:30.

Once the Rolex is set on time, the crown needs to be pushed back in and screwed back in to its original position.

Setting the Rolex GMT Master II on Time – Dual Time Zones

The “GMT” part of Rolex GMT Master II stands for Greenwich Mean Time. Prior to 1972, pilots would use the extra hour hand on the Rolex GMT to keep GMT time along with the regular time of the watch (which is kept using the regular hour and minute hands).

Although GMT time was replaced in the aviation industry by UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) in 1972, the original 3 letter designation has remained a part of the watch's name ever since.

Since the GMT Master II tells two times simultaneously, an extra step is required to set this Rolex on time.

In the video, Eric mentions that he first likes to set the second time on the watch (given by a blue arrow on the GMT II). The 24 hour markings on the watch's bezel give you the hour corresponding to the second time zone you are tracking (with the blue hand).

After the crown is unscrewed and the watch is wound as previously explained, it is time to set the two different times on the GMT.

To set the 24-hour or second time first, you need to pop the crown out to the furthest position. Please make sure that this is done in a gentle fashion to avoid damaging the watch.

Rotate the crown until the second time (blue hand) is in the correct 24-hour position.

After the above step is completed, the date and regular time must be set. This is done in a back-to-back fashion using the same crown setting, since the Rolex GMT II does not have a separate quick set position for the date.

To set the regular time and date on the GMT, push in the crown one notch and in a smooth and controlled fashion, turn the crown using two fingers until the correct date is set. After that, continue turning the crown until the correct hours and minutes are shown (11 o'clock was the time the watch was set to on the video).

To screw the crown back in, follow the same procedure as for the Submariner and Daytona.

By this time, you should be an expert in winding a Rolex and setting it on time!

If you enjoyed Eric's video, please make sure to share it with your friends using the social media buttons below. Please also subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date with our future videos, announcements, and giveaways.

See a list of Rolex watches in our inventory here.

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