A Complete Guide to the Functions and Types of Watch Crowns

A watch crown, also known as a winding stem, is the little knob on the side of the watch case. It is mostly made of metal. It is usually located at the 3 o’clock position, but some watches also have crowns at the 4 and 9 o’clock positions. The watch crown is a necessary and hugely important component of the watch. 

Fossil Watch

Besides setting the time, it is also used to perform various tasks, which I will discuss in this article. I’d also like to share with you different types of crowns, as well as their mechanisms, to help you choose the right one for yourself.

Functions of Watch Crowns

  • The central function of a crown is to set the time.
  • If the watch has a day and date function, you can change it using the crown.
  • The crown’s other main function is to wind the movement if the watch has a mechanical movement (manual or automatic). Manual movements require you to wind the crown manually to run the movement. When you turn the crown, the mainspring compresses and stores energy to keep the watch running. Although automatic movements are powered by the wearer’s movement, many automatic watches also offer manual winding.

Note: In another article, I’ve covered the various watch movements and how they work. Follow the link to learn more about them.

  • Some watches come with a hacking function, which allows you to stop or hack the watch by pulling the crown out to its last position.
  • Some watch brands, such as Timex, include a nightlight in their watches, allowing you to see the time even when it is dark. Timex calls it the Indiglo night light. You can turn on the nightlight by pushing the crown.
  • Other complications, such as chronograph, world-timer, GMT, and moon-phase settings, are accomplished with the assistance of the crown.

Knowing the functions of the crown persuades you of the crown’s significance in the watch. Now I’ll discuss the various types of watch crowns.

Types of Watch Crowns

There are two approaches to discussing different crown types.

  1. Types of watch crowns based on their Mechanism
  2. Types of watch crowns based on their style

Types of Watch Crowns Based on their Mechanism

The watch crown is divided into two types.

  1. Pull-Push Crown        
  2. Screw-Down Crown

Pull-Push Crown

The most common type of crown found in watches is the pull-push crown. It’s simply used to operate the watch’s features. Pull it to activate it and push it back into place when finished. If the watch has day or date functions, pulling the crown reveals two positions: one for setting the time and the other for modifying the day or date functions

Screw-Down Crown

A screw-down crown, like a bolt and nut, screws into the watch case. The screw-down crown can be tightened sufficiently to keep water out of the crown tube and internal movement. Screw-down crowns are therefore common on dive watches and other types of watches where water resistance is important. 

How to Wind the Screw-Down Crown?

The Screw-Down Crown usually has three positions. The first position is for manually winding the watch movement, the middle position is for setting the day or date, and the final position (when the crown is fully pulled out) is for setting the time.

The crown will initially be locked, and you will be unable to pull it out. To unlock it, unscrew the crown by turning it in an anticlockwise direction. After you’ve unlocked it, screw it back down clockwise to wind the movement. Turn the crown until resistance is felt in the turn. This resistance ensures that the mainspring is wounded. After that, you can change the date and time by pulling the crown to the middle and final positions. 

When you’ve finished everything, push it back and lock it. You can view a practical video of the entire process by clicking on the link.

Note: Some watch brands also offer dust-proof and water-proof screw-down crowns

Aside from these two basic types of crowns, they also come in a variety of shapes and styles. 

Type of Watch Crowns Based on their Style

Because the crown is a prominent part of the watch and it also represents the overall appearance of the watch, different watch brands use different shapes and styles of crowns based on the watch style. I’d like to share with you some popular crown styles.

Recessed Or Inset Crown

A recessed crown is integrated into the case and thus less visible; it improves the comfort of wearing a watch because the crown is contained within the case.

Recessed Crown

Image Credit: watchuseek.com

It also protects your crown from any blows and keeps it in good condition. The watch case serves as an alternative to crown guards.

It is now seen in only a few watches.

Cabochon crown

A polished and shaped gemstone is known as a cabochon. In watch crowns, a sapphire cabochon is the most commonly used cabochon. It is visible on the top of the crown head, giving the watch a luxurious appearance. Mostly, dress watches come with a cabochon crown.

Cabochon Crown in watch

Onion-Shaped Crown

It is, as the name suggests, an onion-shaped crown. It is used in pilot watches. It is usually large as compared to other crowns and has etched lines that make it easy to grip with gloves.

Onion Shaped Crown in Watch

 Although it is used for glove grip, it can dig into the wrist if it is too large. So, before you buy a watch with an onion-shaped crown, make sure the crown is comfortable for you.

In addition to these kinds, crowns used in watches include hexagonal crowns, diamond-shaped crowns, straight crowns, conical crowns, and so on.

Note: Some watch brands also place their logo on the crown’s head.

Rolex Logo on Watch Crown

Image Credit: rolex.com

Crown Guards

The crown guard is an extension of a watch’s case that surrounds the crown and protects it from impacts and bangs. 


You now understand the functions and types of watch crowns. I did my best to explain almost all of the watch crown’s major functions. I also discussed the most common types of crowns in terms of style, shape, and mechanism. I covered almost all of the basics of watch crowns, but if you think I missed anything or have any suggestions, please leave a comment below.

I always feel happy to hear from you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *