Watch Crowns: Top 9 Questions Asnwered

In this blog post, we’ll be answering the top frequently asked questions surrounding watch crowns.

What exactly a watch crown is, what it does, and how it works.

A watch crown is a small knob that is most often used to wind your watch or set the time on your watch. For such a small part of a watch it is a very important piece.

Watch Crowns

What is a crown on a watch?

Close up photo of a Seiko watch with a big crown on the side of the watch's case
Crown on a watch

Your watch’s crown is the little knob on the side of your watch’s case.

The crown on your watch gives you access to your watch’s movement. It can be used to perform a number of functions like; winding the mainspring, moving the hands to set the time, or hacking etc.

Three watch crowns with their stems
Watch Crowns

The crown of your watch is attached to a stem which goes into your watch’s movement. Above you can see a picture of watch crowns, each are attached to a watch stem.

You will find watch crowns in both mechanical, quartz and other types of watches.

However, digital watches only have a button that performs some functions that a watch’s crown would inside a mechanical or quartz watch.

Photo of a digital watch on a person's wrist
Digital watch

What does the crown of a watch do?

A crown can perform a few functions on a watch. Here are three of the main things a crown can do on your watch.

1. Winds The Mainspring

A main function of a watch’s crown on a mechanical watch is to wind the mainspring inside the barrel of your watch’s movement.

On a manual mechanical watch, this is done by you manually winding the crown on a daily basis.

By turning the crown, this will wind the mainspring inside the watch. Which then gives your watch power, and keeps it ticking.

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The crown winding the mainspring of a manual mechanical movement

However, on an automatic watch, a rotor inside the movement will wind the mainspring as you wear the watch. Yet, you can still wind the crown of an automatic watch too.

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Rotor inside a automatic mechanical movement

2. Setting the Time & Date 

A crown also gives you the ability to move the hands on your watch’s dial. This will allow you to set the time on your watch. You can also do the same to set the date of your watch.

3. Hacking

Hacking a watch means that you are stopping the movement of a watch. This is done by pulling out the crown of your watch out slightly.

Then a break/lever is placed on the barrel of your watch and it stops the movement. Once the crown is pushed back in the movement resumes.

Not all crowns can perform hacking, as not all watches have installed this feature on their movement.

Where is a crown on a watch?

The most popular position for your watch crown is at the 3 o’clock position on your watch.

However, many sports watches and dive watches have decided to place their watch crowns at the 4 o’clock position. 

This is to make wearing the watch a more comfortable experience during physical activities. As the watch is tucked away and is less likely to snag against the top of your hand.

You’ll see a crown placed at the 4 o’clock position on all of the newer Seiko 5 models.

Another less common position for the crown is at the 9 o’clock position.

Photo of three watches showcasing three different positions of watch crowns
Positions of watch crowns

How do you use a watch crown?

Using a watch crown is easy once you know how. Using the crown for different functions means moving the crown into slightly different positions.

How to wind your mechanical watch

When you need to wind the mainspring on your mechanical watch, you simply wind the crown clockwise. This will wind up your watch and increase your mechanical watch’s power reserves.

On a manual watch you need to do this often on a daily basis. 

While winding the watch you will feel a tension, as if you shouldn’t wind anymore. This is when you should stop winding it. Stop there, as your watch is fully wound, and you don’t want to over wind your watch.

How to set the time & date on your watch

On most watches you can set the day or the date by pulling the crown out to the furthest point, and turn it to set the time, or even the date.

Can you overwind a watch?

Yes, it is possible to overwind some mechanical watches.

Only manual mechanical watches are ones that you can overwind. Manual watches are those watches that need to be wound on a daily basis.

Whereas modern automatic watches, which are self-winding watches. Are watches you can’t overwind. As the winding mechanism will just decouple from your watch’s mainspring when it’s fully wound.

However, a manual watch won’t have this feature. So you need to make sure you stop winding the crown on your manual watch when you feel a tension in the winding. This will warn you to stop winding the crown.

How do you take a crown out and put in back on a watch?

This handy video from Esslinger and Company, shows you how to remove and replace your watch’s crown.

What is a screw-down crown?

A screw-down crown is a type of crown found on dive watches.  A screw-down crown will help a watch’s water resistance

The screw-down crown can be tightened extra tight into the case. This is to ensure that your watch’s case is protected from any water or dust that could enter.

What are crown guards?

Crown guards are there to form a protective barrier for your watch’s crown. 

They are extensions of your watch’s case, that jut out on either side of your crown. These will protect your watch’s crown from any knocks or other impacts.

You’ll often see crown guards on dive watches, and other tool watches.

Crown guards can also be called crown protectors.

Close up photo of a watch crown with crown guards
Close up of a watch’s crown with crown guards

What is a recessed crown on a watch?

A recessed crown is a crown on a watch that is hidden. It’s a crown that’s set further into the case of a watch.

There are many reasons to have a recessed crown on a watch:

  • It can prevent your watch’s crown from pinching your hand. 
  • It also helps your watch achieve a more symmetrical appearance.
  • It will protect your crown from any knocks and keep it from getting damaged.
  • It’s an alternative to crown guards.

To Sum Up

The crown of your watch is an essential part of any watch. It allows you to access your watch’s movement, and to perform a number of functions. Such as winding the mainspring, hacking, and moving the hands on your watch to set the time.

Learn more about all the other essential parts of your watch.

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