What is the Crown on a Watch – Question Answered 2024

Many new watch enthusiasts ask What is the Crown on a Watch, here is what you need to know in 2024 and why its so important.

If you are wondering what the significants of a crown on a watch does and how it works then stick around for this article.

When people set out to buy a new timepiece, they often spend a lot of time looking at movement specifications, type of band, water-resistance information, and the materials used to make the watch.

But guess what?

A lot of watch owners don’t even factor in the crown of their watch.

Today, we will take a minute to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about this overlooked feature you’ll most likely find in any mechanical or automatic watch.

Watch crown: What is it?

The watch crown is one of the most important parts of a watch.

For starters, the watch crown is that tiny knob that sits just at the side of the watch, specifically at the 3 o’clock position.

Most times, this watch feature is made of metal.

To help give watch owners a grip, most watch brands have uniquely designed their crown with machined lines running along the width.

Now that you know exactly what the watch’s crown looks like and the materials used to make it, the next question probably on your mind is, what is it used for?

Well, the functions of the crown depend significantly on the features of your watch, But to give you a general idea, here are some unique functions of the crown:

  • It helps to wind your timepiece
  • It is critical for setting time
  • The crown comes in handy when you want to adjust day/date as well as moon phases.
  • The crown in some watches is used to start/stop the stopwatch timer.

A brief history of the watch crown

Before the advent of watches with crown, most watches produced before 1830 were wound using a key.

However, all that changed in 1830, after Antoine Louis-Breguet launched the very first watch with a crown.

At that time, the crown was called a knob and functioned pretty much like the modern crowns you’ll find on mechanical and automatic watches today.

Even though the crown is popular for its winding action, it performs more than just a winding mechanism.

Here are some special functions of the watch’s crown:

  • The crown of a watch is used to wind the mainspring. This helps provide the energy needed to power the internal movement.
  • The crown is also used to tweak additional components within a watch. This is quite true if you have a watch with a world clock or lunar calendar.
  • The crown in a diving watch is used to screw down the water-resistant seal. This helps keep moisture out.

Close up of a watch crown

What are the classic functions of the watch crown?

The watch crown plays a significant role in classic watches, and we will get to that in a bit.

In terms of function, the crown is used to control the watch’s hands, and this is super important when setting the time on your wristwatch.

When pulled out, the crown sets the entire hand movement in motion, including the minute wheel, hour wheel, and minute tube.

Once you have pulled out the crown, you can turn it to move the hands to the desired position, precisely to the exact time you want it to read.

Another important function of the crown is that it is used to wind mechanical watches.

This is pretty important if you have a mechanical watch that doesn’t generate power from your hand movement.

Also, you can use the crown to wind automatic watches even though it isn’t necessary since automatic watches are designed to wind themselves.

What are the types of watch crowns?

Since you now know what a crown is and its unique functions, it’s time to run you through the types of crowns out there.

And yes, there are various types of crowns, each with its unique shape.

Straight crowns: These are perhaps one of the most common crowns you’ll find in most watches today.

They are commonly found on Rolex watches.

Conical crowns: This type of crown was pretty famous during their heydays.

They were famous in the aviation industry as pilots appreciated the design and feel of their conical shape.

Even when wearing gloves, this type of crown is super easy to operate.

Most modern IWC Big pilot watches still feature this type of crown.

Onion-shaped crowns: This crown got its unique name as a result of its spherical appearance.

More so, the groves of this crown look almost like an onion.

Plus, it is pretty famous among pilot watches, especially the Lindbergh models.

Inset crowns: This type of crown is found in most modern high-end watches.

Unlike other crowns, this type of crown isn’t very pronounced, and that’s because it is fitted into the case so that it looks less visible.

The Chopard Monte Carlo watch features this type of crown.

Crowns with cabochon: This is a unique type of crown that features small precious stones or glass.

If you have seen a Cartier Tank Francaise before, you’ll know exactly what we mean.

Push-button crowns: You’ll mostly see this type of crown in a chronograph.

Most times, this type of crown features a pusher that can be used to tweak other chronograph functions.

Frequently asked questions: Learn more about a watch’s crown.

How do you wind a watch’s crown?

Winding a crown isn’t so difficult.

That said, the process is slightly different for mechanical and automatic watches.

To wind a mechanical watch, you have to turn the crown clockwise until you feel some type of resistance as you turn.

The resistance is designed to tighten the mainspring to provide enough energy to power the movement.

While automatic watches are designed to wound themselves, it’s okay sometimes to wound the watch in-between wears.

To wind an automatic watch, you’ll need to turn the crown anticlockwise to position correctly and then wind clockwise like you would with a mechanical watch.

How can I screw down the crown on my Rolex?

Once you have tweaked the time on your Rolex, it’s time to push the crown back into position zero.

And to do this, all you have to do is push the crown down until it is snug.

If you don’t screw it properly, your watch is no longer waterproof.

Can you swim with a crown that isn’t screwed down?

Swimming without a screw-down crown can cause serious damage to your watch, and that’s because the crown is designed to be tightened when you aren’t tweaking the hands on the dial or setting other functionalities.

In its screw-down position, your watch is water-resistant.


The crown of a watch is one of the most important parts of a timepiece, and that’s because of the unique role it plays.

From setting time to tweaking day/date to other functionalities, the crown on any watch is super important.

For those who still doubt what a watch’s crown is or its primary function, today’s post should bring you up to speed on everything you need to know.