Table of Contents:
The First Watch
So you’ve bought your first nice watch. An object of pristine beauty, rendered in steel and sapphire. You actually thought you could hear angels singing when you walked out of the store, your beauty on your arm (the watch, dude… the watch), with box and papers safely tucked in a shopping bag.
But you’re home now, the angels are on break, and you’re wondering, “Now what?”
The salesman at your Authorized Dealer should have taken you through the finer points of routine maintenance, keeping the watch clean, winding, bracelet adjustment, and operation (especially if it’s a chronograph or a GMT, or even just changing the date at the end of a short month).
But in case you were seeing stars and hearing singing angels, and weren’t taking notes, we’ve put down a few pointers for you here. Note that watches from various brands – and even models within a brand – may have slightly different needs so for simplicity, we’ve assumed your new pride & joy is a Rolex.
Let’s take this classic and popular Rolex Submariner and change its time and date.
All Rolex watches these days have movements which are automatically wound when worn, via the movement of your wrist. However, if more than a couple of days go by without being worn, your new watch will have stopped. This is due to the fact that the power reserve has run out. That’s fancy talk for the mainspring has totally uncoiled within the mainspring barrel and has no more energy to run the watch.
When this happens, simply unscrew the crown and wind the watch by hand. Twenty to thirty twists of the crown should be sufficient to get that little internal motor humming nicely.
Setting the Time and Date
Next, you’ve got to set the watch to the correct time and, if necessary, the correct date.
When the crown is unscrewed as described above, that’s called the ‘first’ or winding position. Pulling it out another ‘click’ puts the crown in the second position. In this position, you can turn it to set the time. Always turn the hands so as to advance the time forward, never backward (at least not backward more than a few minutes).
Pulling the crown out yet another ‘click’ puts the crown in the third position. You can only do this if the watch is designed with a date feature.
If your watch is so designed, the date is set via a ‘quick-set’ process. That is, pulling the crown out to the third position and rotating it sets the date quickly, without having to run the hands around the dial twice for each date.
CAVEAT! The quick-set mechanism can be damaged if the date is set in this fashion when the watch is displaying any time between 9:00pm and 2:00am. To avoid this damage, simply twist the crown (while it’s in the second position) and advance the hands around the dial as if you are setting the time, while observing the date display.
When the display clicks over to the next date, make sure to advance the hands until they display roughly 6:00. That will be 6:00am displayed. Now it’s safe for you to pull the crown to the third position and set the date via the quick-set mechanism. When you’ve set the date, set the time as described above.
Please note that complicated watches like the Yacht-Master II and the Sky-Dweller are beyond the scope of this article. Please consult your owner’s manual and/or your Authorized Dealer.
Finally, to avoid all the unpleasantness of winding and setting when your watch runs down, automatic winders are available. These simulate the motion of your wrist and keep your watch properly wound and waiting for the next time you wear it.
Removing the Bracelet
“Why would I want to remove the bracelet?” you ask? Well, the number one reason is that you can dramatically change the look of your watch by changing the bracelet to a strap. And a collection of different straps is a lot cheaper than a collection of watches.
Your watch’s bracelet is held to the case by what’s called a spring bar. Basically it’s a miniature metal version of the bar on which your toilet paper hangs. There are different kinds of tools, some better than others, to compress the spring bars and release the bracelet (or strap) from the watch case.
You need to have care when performing this operation, because a slip will mean a scratch – even a gouge – in that flawless finish on your watch case.
Once your bracelet is off the case, reverse the process to reinstall the bracelet or to attach a strap. Pay attention to which side of the watch you want the buckle end to connect to. Most folks prefer the buckle end to be attached at 12:00.
If you like a NATO strap with your watch (especially popular with sport models like the Explorer and Submariner), simply install the spring bars without the strap in place, then thread the NATO through the spring bars.
Whatever the bracelet or strap for your Rolex, each one gives your new beautiful timepiece a different and unique touch.
In general, you want to keep your watch clean, and you probably don’t want it getting dinged up. New watches are like new cars. There’s real grief involved with that first scratch. Just be careful what you’re up to when wearing it.
If the watch gets dirty, simply make sure the crown is screwed in and any leather strap is removed, and gently run cool fresh water over the piece. If you’ve been diving or snorkeling in the ocean, be sure to thoroughly rinse the watch in fresh water. If there’s grit in the bracelet, submerge it and work the grit out with an old toothbrush. When the watch is clean, dry it with a soft towel.
Regular cleaning will minimize wear and keep the value of the watch high. So will regular servicing by your Authorized Rolex Dealer. These days, Rolex only recommends service at ten year internals, so you’ve got some time before getting concerned with that.
That’s about all there is to taking care of your new watch. Now, get out there and enjoy wearing it!