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How to Set your Rolex watch: a Complete Guide

Rolex Datejust 1601 silver dial wrist shot

Rolex is unarguably the most famous and well-known luxury watch company.

Rolex is known all over the world, and when you ask someone to mention a luxury watch brand, they’re probably going to say Rolex.

While Rolex has made some quartz (battery powered) watches, today, Rolex only makes mechanical automatic watches. In fact, the vast majority of watches that Rolex has produced are mechanical.


This affects how you should set your Rolex watch and ensure that it keeps on ticking. But no matter if you have a quartz watch or a mechanical watch, the way you set it is the same.

In this article, you learn how to set your Rolex watch, but also how you wind it and give it power so that it keeps going.

How to wind your Rolex watch

As mentioned, the vast majority of Rolex watches are mechanical, however, there are a few exceptions, and the benefit of having a quartz watch is that it will continue to tick, without you having to wind it. On the flip side, when you have a quartz watch, it means that it is powered by a battery, and when that battery runs out of energy, the watch will stop and you will have to change the battery.

With that said, if you have a mechanical Rolex, which most Rolex owners do, you should wind it on a regular basis. The most important part in a Rolex watch is the movement, and winding it does not only ensure that it keeps ticking, but it is also one of the most crucial things you can do to look after your watch.

Rolex Submariner 116613LB

Most Rolex watches are automatic (Self-winding) mechanical watches, which means that they are equipped with rotors which rotate when you move the watch (and wear it), which thus winds the watch. There’s an oscillating weight attached to the winding system, which means that energy is gained by the natural movements of your arm. However, while the watch is wound when worn, you should also wind it occasionally to load it with energy (and enough energy) so that it doesn’t stop as soon as you take off the watch.

When a watch is wound, it stores the energy in a mainspring. Different Rolex watches have a different power reserve, and this affects how long you can leave the watch without wearing it before the watch runs out of energy and thus stops.

Some Rolex watches have a 48-hour power reserve while, for example, the Rolex caliber 3255 has a power reserve of 70 hours. But this time is only when the watch is fully wound, so if the watch isn’t fully wound, it will stop earlier.

Rolex Explorer 114270 wristshot

If your Rolex watch stops, you will not only need to wind it to load it with enough energy, but you will also have to set the time and (if your Rolex has it), change the date and even the day (if you have a Rolex Day-Date).

1. To wind your Rolex watch, unscrew the crown from the case. The crown can be found on the side of the watch’s case at 3 o’clock. To unscrew the crown, turn it counterclockwise until you can feel that it release from the last thread.

2. Now, turn the crown slowly clockwise 360 degrees, or a full rotation. Repeat this at least 30 to 40 times. This will ensure the watch is fully wound. As the watch gets wound up, you will feel that the crown will have more resistance when you wind it. If you overwind a watch, the spring may break, but on most modern watches, this is regulated so that even if you continue to wind, the spring won’t break. If you don’t fully wind your Rolex, the watch won’t have the maximum energy it can store and thus stop earlier if you don’t wear it.

3. When you have wound your watch, screw the crown back. You do this by gently pushing the crown towards the case of the watch and screwing it back on to the threads by turning it clockwise.

4. If your Rolex has stopped, it may take a few turns before the watch starts working, If your watch still doesn’t start (and you have a mechanical Rolex) after you’ve wound it and worn it on your wrist, the movement may be broken, or you haven’t pushed in the crown properly. If the movement is broken and for some reason doesn’t work, you may need to service and repair the watch. In this case, go to an authorized Rolex dealer and they will help you.

5.If you don’t want your self-winding Rolex to stop, wear it every day so that the rotor continues to load the watch with energy.

How to set the time and date on your Rolex

If your Rolex has stopped, you will need to change the time and perhaps the date and day of your watch. Depending on which watch you have, the way you do this on can vary.

Rolex submariner 116610LV wrist shot

To set the time of your watch, unscrew the crown, as demonstrated above, and when your crown is unscrewed on the first step.

If you have a non-quickset model (a Rolex with date function), it means that in order to change the date, you change the date by simply changing the time to the next day.

Pull out the crown another step, Then wind the crown clockwise or counterclockwise past the midnight position twice and then continue winding until you reach the correct date.

To set the time, wind the crown clockwise or counterclockwise until you reach the correct time. When you are done, screw the crown back to the correct position by screwing it back together with the case.

If you have a more modern Rolex with a date function, it means that it is equipped with a quickset date function. This means that you can change the date of your watch separately without changing the time. This is obviously a more convenient and faster way to change the date, and this is why all modern Rolex watches with a date function have this.

When you have unscrewed the crown, slightly tug on the crown until it reaches the second position. Now, to set the date from the second position, wind the crown until you reach the appropriate date. To set the time, from the third position, wind the crown until you reach the correct time.

When you’ve completed this, make sure that you screw the crown back together with the case.

Rolex Datejust 1601 silver dial

If you have a Day-Date model

To change the day and date on these models, unscrew the crown counterclockwise, slightly tug on the crown until it reaches the second position. Now, you can now set the and set the date. To change the time, pull the crown out to the third position to set the time.

Do note that older Day-Date models do not have a quick set function, and therefore, to set the date, from the second position, wind the crown clockwise or counterclockwise past the midnight position. You set the correct date by continuing to wind in the same direction.

When you are done, make sure that you screw back the crown properly.

How to set the time on a no-date Rolex

There are several Rolex watches which do not have a date function, and the way you set the time on these vary as well. Models that only display the time include the Oyster Perpetual and the submariner no-date – among others.

Changing the time on these is simple, though, since that’s everything you need to do.

Rolex Submariner no-date

To change the time, unscrew the crown counterclockwise until it pops out from the side. To change the time, extend the crown to the correct position. When you pull out the crown, the second hand will stop, allowing you to set the time exactly.

Now, rotate the crown to set the correct time, then screw it back into place.

How to set the time on a GMT-Master II quickset or Explorer II with quickset

If you have a Rolex GMT-Master II or an Explorer II with quickset date function, it means that you have a date function, standard time, as well as an additional GMT hand to keep track of another timezone simultaneously.

Begin by unscrewing the crown counterclockwise until it pops out from the side. Now, tug on the crown until it reaches the second position. You can now set the date. 

Rolex GMT-Master II 116710BLNR

  • To set the time, pull the crown out to the third position to set the time.
  • To set the date, put the crown at the second position, then move the hour hand past the midnight position twice in one-hour jumps.
  • If you want to set the hour hand, you move the move the hour from the second position in one-hour jumps until you reach the correct hour.
  • Make sure you screw back the crown when you are done.
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