Is It Bad to Wind a Watch Backwards?

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Winding a watch properly is really very simple but if you’ve ever wondered, is it bad to wind a watch backwards, the answer is no, it usually doesn’t harm the watch at all. That being said, it is always best not to do anything that the instructions don’t specifically say is acceptable to do.

Any time that you do anything different with your watch — for instance, wind it backwards — you put undue pressure on the watch and can cause one of the watch’s many intricate components to work in a way they weren’t intended to work. This usually doesn’t cause long-term damage, but if you make it a habit to go against the recommendations listed in the user manual, something may go wrong with the watch eventually.

Why You Can’t Wind a Watch Backwards?

Many watches are made so that it’s impossible to wind the watch backwards even if you wanted to do so. The stem simply won’t turn in that direction. If it does turn in that direction and you only do this occasionally, it shouldn’t hurt the components of the watch. Still, it’s a good idea to check the instruction manual to make sure that it won’t harm the watch if you accidentally try to wind it backwards.

In most cases, winding a watch backwards is no big deal, but in certain watches, especially the higher-priced watches, you might cause some damage. This is why so many watches are made so that you aren’t physically able to wind them using a backwards motion.

Can You Adjust Time Backwards?

For the most part, you can adjust the time on your watch by moving the hands in a backwards motion. In fact, this is often the fastest or simplest way to change the time on your watch. Of course, if the manufacturer of the watch advises against it, it’s best to adjust the time using only a forward motion.

Always check with the instructions that come with the watch before adjusting the time or winding the

watch because some watches, particularly the more expensive ones, may have different rules for setting and winding your watch.

If you’re curious about the proper way to wind a watch, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Manual movement watches: always wind and set the watch while it’s lying on a flat surface or as you hold it with your left hand. It’s best not to wind or set your watch while you’re wearing it because it can put a strain on the mechanics inside of the watch.
  • Automatic movement watches: to keep this type of watch wound properly, you have to wear it regularly. Regular motion of the watch is necessary in order for it to keep working right. Also, you’ll want to research the watch to make sure you’re paying attention to all of the instructions included in the user manual. If you don’t have a user manual, look the watch up online so that you know for sure how to take good care of it.

Even if you’re not wearing it every day and instead keeping it in a storage temporarily, you should wound your watch at least once a week. You should make it a habit to wind your watch regularly.

A watch that is wound properly will run for 18 to 36 hours, depending on the watch.


Just because you can’t ruin your watch by winding it backwards or setting the time backwards doesn’t mean that you should make a habit of doing either of these things. In fact, it’s always best to treat your watch with care because it is, after all, a very delicate instrument.

Even when you’re storing the watch away, you should keep it out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dry place. The more expensive your watch is, the more important it is that you take good care of it, which includes learning how to properly wind it and set the time on it.

Getting to know your watch is the perfect first step, so while a lot of people disregard and even throw away the instruction manual that comes with the watch, this is not a good idea by any means. The better you know your watch, the more likely you are to find that it works right for you, and it all starts with that user manual.