Antique Pocket Watches and Accessories
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Setting your pocket watch

How to Set a Pendant-Set Pocket Watch:
  1. Hold the pocket watch dial-up.
  2. Grab the crown between your thumb and index finger.
  3. Carefully pull the crown away from the watch until you feel it pop. ...
  4. Rotate the crown until the hands indicate the correct time.
  5. Push the crown back towards the watch until you feel it pop.

How to set a Lever Set Pocket Watch:
The alternative method of setting the time on other antique pocket watches doesn't employ this above method, but rather a very different one. In all American Railroad grade watches a setting lever is used. 

In order to set a lever set watch:

  1. Hold the watch in your left palm with the dial facing up. Grasp the top edge of the watch-this is called the bezel and it holds the glass crystal in place and unscrew it with your right hand: Place your thumb just outside the crystal on the bezel next to the 9 and your index finger just outside the 1 and your middle finger just outside the 4. Turn the whole bezel (the bezel is the thin metal frame for the glass crystal) and glass crystal counter-clockwise until it comes off of the watch. Some bezels snap off rather than unscrew. This is done with a sharp knife blade placed into the crack between the bezel and watch case, about the 2 o’clock position, and twist slightly.
  2. Set the bezel with the crystal aside. Look for a small lever, which is usually on the outside of the porcelain dial between the 1 and 4 position, and hook it with your thumb nail, and pull it out about 1/2" .
  3. While the lever is out, use the winding crown at the top of the watch to set the time. Then push the lever back in against the edge of the porcelain dial, and carefully thread the bezel back on the front of the watch taking care not to cross-thread it. It should screw on smoothly until there is no gap between the front case and back case (looking at a side view of the watch). For a snap case, push only on the edges of the bezel to reattach---never push directly on the center of the crystal.

Setting a key wind watch

Before 1900 many of the pocket watches made, were wound and set with a small key.  After the turn of the century keys fell out of use and stem wind and stem set became common.  Railroad watches used lever set. 

Antique pocket watches are wound with a small key accessed by opening the back case of the watch.  There will be a square shaft that the key fits over for winding.  Use a gentle touch, because the mainsprings wind only in one direction. Wind the spring up all the way until it becomes hard to turn.  If, at first, you meet resistance, try going the other way.  If both ways will not gently turn, the mainspring is probably already wound up.  Forcing the shaft to turn the wrong way will cause damage to the watch or key.

Setting the watch is either done from the back using the other square shaft which causes the hands to turn, or if no second shaft is seen, it may set from the front where the hands are mounted.  Some antique pocket watches set from the front using a square shaft at the center of the hands.  A close visual check will reveal a small square shaft at the center of the hands.  Turn the hands either way to set.

 

POCKET WATCH KEY SIZE CONVERSIONS

EURO

SIZE IN MM

ENGLISH

00

2.00

12

0

1.90

11

1

1.80

10

2

1.75

9

3

1.65

8

4

1.60

7

5

1.50

6

6

1.40

5

7

1.30

4

8

1.20

3

9

1.15

2

10

1.05

1

11

1.00

0

12

0.95

00

I hope these instructions help you out. Please remember to fully wind your watch once a day.


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