How to Adjust an Automatic Watch?

An automatic watch is a marvel of engineering that requires no battery to keep accurate time. Instead, it is powered by the movement of your wrist, which winds a tiny spring inside the watch.

While an automatic watch can be a wonderful addition to your collection, it can be frustrating when it doesn’t keep the correct time.

Fortunately, adjusting an automatic watch is a simple process that you can do yourself with the right tools and a little know-how.

In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to adjust your automatic watch and keep it running smoothly.

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Set an automatic clock on the video

The most complicated thing is practically opening the back cover of the watch if you don’t have the appropriate tool or you haven’t opened it for a long time.

In summary, the steps to follow to adjust an automatic watch are the following:

1. Measure accuracy

The first thing before adjusting your automatic watch is to know if it needs you to adjust it. For this, you can simply use an APP that measures the precision of the movement.

I use Watch Accuracy Meter on my Android phone because it’s free and very easy to use but there are several available.

You simply have to bring the phone’s microphone closer to the watch so that this APP can measure the accuracy of the tick-tock of the movement.

2. Open the watch

The next step is to open the watch to gain access to the mechanism, which, depending on the type of closure, may require certain specific tools.

How to Adjust/Regulate an Automatic/Mechanical Watch?

If it is a threaded or screwed case back, you will need a Jaxa key to be able to exert pressure on the corresponding notches and unscrew the cover.

On the other hand, if it is a pressure case back, you can use a small knife to pry it very carefully. There are also specific tools for this purpose.

Today there are numerous inexpensive watchmaker’s kits that feature all of these tools. This is a good example:

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The problem with snap-on watches is that it is often nearly impossible to snap the back into place to close them.

If you have this problem there is also a specific tool that solves it, it is called a watchmaker’s press and it is not particularly expensive either. Here is an example:

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3. Slightly move the racket/Regulator

Once the watch is open you will be able to easily distinguish the racket just above the shuttlecock.

The racket or Regulator is usually the smallest lever and is located at the top. Push it slightly with a toothpick or small screwdriver to adjust the speed of the movement.

It is important not to touch the fixed point (the larger lever seen below), as this could damage the mechanism.

How to regulate an automatic watch.

Some movements are even engraved with + and – signs to make it easier to determine which direction to move the racket to gain or lose the clock.

If the movement does not have any inscription and you do not know in which direction to push the mobile point, keep in mind that when you bring it closer to the fixed point, the clock slows down and when you move it away, it advances, it’s that simple.

How do I make my automatic watch more accurate?

What is not so easy is to exert the right pressure on the racket, since a slight movement of just half a millimeter can mean an advance or delay of more than 20 seconds.

It is quite likely that you will need several attempts to adjust the machine to the desired speed, but with a little patience, good results can be obtained.

Read our guide on Seiko NH35 Movement: A Complete Guide for watch enthusiasts

4. Re-measure accuracy

After moving the racket, measure the precision again to see the effects of that first regulation. You’ve probably messed it up even more but don’t worry, it doesn’t usually come out the first time.

Take note and push the racket more gently in the corresponding direction again.

Always measure the precision with the watch in the same position to obtain the most homogeneous results possible.

Repeat the process as many times as necessary until the measurements stay as close to zero seconds per day as possible.

Keep in mind that it is very difficult to obtain absolute precision in a mechanical watch, so obtaining a value below +- 10 seconds per day can already be considered a good job.

Read our guide on How to change the battery of a watch?

5. Close the clock

When you have it to your liking, check the machinery from above in case a speck of dust has fallen and close the clock again.


Q: How often should I adjust my automatic watch?

A: Ideally, an automatic watch should be adjusted as soon as you notice that it’s running too fast or too slow. It’s a good idea to check the timekeeping every few months or so.

Q: Do I need any special tools to adjust an automatic watch?

A: You’ll need a small screwdriver to adjust the regulator. You may also want to use a loupe or magnifying glass to get a closer look at the watch’s movement.

Q: What if I can’t find the regulator on my watch?

A: Some automatic watches don’t have a visible regulator. In that case, you may need to take the watch to a professional for adjustment.

Q: Can I adjust the time on my automatic watch without pulling out the crown?

A: No, you need to pull out the crown to adjust the time on an automatic watch. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific watch model.

Q: What if my automatic watch is still not keeping accurate time after adjusting the regulator?

A: If your watch is still not keeping accurate time after adjusting the regulator, there may be an issue with the watch’s movement. In that case, you should take the watch to a professional for repair.


As you can see, adjusting an automatic watch is quite simple and anyone can do it at home with the right means, although some movements are easier to adjust than others.

In general, from my own experience, cheap Chinese automatic movements are the worst to adjust while Japanese Seiko NH35  or Miyota type are much more appreciated.

Therefore the final conclusion is that you always look for automatic watches with good movements inside and that are well considered.

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