Starting every March and ending in November, we set our clocks forward and hour and back again. Every March, we look forward to lighter evenings as winter fades. These tips aren’t just for changing the hour during Daylight Saving Time; you should continue these best practices throughout the year to avoid damaging your watch.
2018 Dates: Spring Forward March 11th at 2am. Fall Back November 4th at 2am.
Tips For Setting Your Watch
- Remove your watch before adjusting the time or date
- Never reset your mechanical watch between 9pm and 3am if it has a date display
- Don’t over-wind, stop winding when you feel resistance
- Set the watch forward with time rather than going backwards
- Remember to completely tighten the crown after adjusting
Depending on when you decide to go to bed, you may need to wait to adjust the time on your watch. If your watch has a date display, the date change process starts around 9pm and typically ends at either 2am or 3am.
Changing the time or date on the watch during these hours can cause damage to the gears because they are engaged to change the calendar function. If these wheels and gears are damaged, it can send your watch to an expensive repair.
Winding the watch on your wrist can also damage the movement. The angle you are winding it at can be wrong and you may end up putting too much stress on the winding stem. Taking the watch off minimizes stress on the winding stem. At the same time, over winding the watch can damage the mainspring.
In some modern watches, it is impossible to over wind the mainspring, but unless you know for sure, take caution when winding. For a completely unwound mainspring, it may take from 20 to more than 40 revolutions.
Facts About “Spring Forward” & “Fall Back”
Not All States Participate
At one point, cities used to keep their own time. In 1965 cities were able to pick and choose when they adopted DST, causing over 20 different changes throughout the United States.
Imagine having to remember to set your watch if you were busy traveling. The United States introduced the Uniform Time Act in 1966.
Arizona participated in Daylight Saving Time under the Uniform Time Act but in 1968 they reverted back to not practicing the change to conserve energy. The extra hour of sunlight had people running air conditioning units longer during the summer months, using more energy.
Hawaii has never observed the time change as they receive pretty much the same amount of light throughout the year.
Additionally, different areas of the world change their clocks at different times. The United Kingdom typically changes about a week after the United States.
Why Daylight Saving Time?
Daylight Saving Time was suggested hundreds of years ago, Benjamin Franklin recommended people making better use of the daylight hours first thing in the morning. However, in the United States, the official Daylight Saving Time originally began in 1918 but was repealed in 1919.
From early 1942 through September 1945, the standardized clock changes were re-established due to World War II, also known as War Time. After the war, states were allowed to choose to observe or not.
In 1907, William Willet introduced British Summer Time to the United Kingdom. His goal was to prevent people from wasting vital hours of light during summer mornings.
He originally proposed setting the clocks ahead 20 minutes on each Sunday in April and back on each Sunday in September. Germany adopted his time change in 1916 and Britain followed shortly after.
Fun Fact: Willet is the great-great-grandfather of Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay.
Today, Daylight Saving Time is in over 70 countries world wide. In the United States, the current schedule was started in 2007. This new version extended the period by one month. The first Sunday in November marks the end to the period which started on the second Sunday in March.
Why Do We Change Our Clocks at 2am?
Scientists have found that 2am is the least disruptive time to make the switch in the hours, both forwards and backwards. Most people are already at home in bed and it is very unlikely that someone will wake up at 2am.
This also avoids having to switch the date to yesterday. If the clocks were changed at 12am it would revert back a day to 11pm.
Don’t worry, even though the time is changing by an hour, your body will adjust. Gaining the extra hour is much easier to adjust to than when we lose it in the spring. Sticking to a normal routine will help, as will making sure your watch is set to the correct time!
This article was originally published October 30th, 2015 and was updated March 8th 2018.