How to Set Up a Digital Watch: 9 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Set Up a Digital Watch: 9 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Set Up a Digital Watch: 9 Steps (with Pictures)

If it's been a while since you needed to set up your digital watch, you may not remember the procedure. To change the settings, you must first put your watch into time mode, where you can adjust things like the time, date, day of the week, and more. Once you're in time mode, use a button to cycle through and change the settings. When everything is set up, you are ready to use your watch.


Part 1 of 2: Switching to time mode

Set a Digital Watch Step 2

Step 1. Inspect the buttons on your watch

Digital watches come with many different functions and designs. Simple watches may only have one or two buttons, but more complicated watches may have several. The adjustment buttons are usually located on the left or right side of the watch face.

  • Although unusual, some watches have adjustment buttons on the back of the watch or behind a simple cover. The covers can usually be removed with fingers or a small screwdriver.
  • On some watches, the buttons are labeled in English. Commonly used buttons on digital watches are: 'Mode', 'Set', 'Reset', 'Start' and 'Light'.
  • You will probably use the 'Mode' and/or 'Set' buttons. With 'Mode' you can switch your watch in time mode, stopwatch mode, etc. With 'Set' you can adjust the time in time mode or confirm changes.
Set a Digital Watch Step 3

Step 2. Use a pen to change the mode on models with a recessed push button

Simple watches usually have a single, small, recessed button to change the settings. Use a pen to poke the recessed area and change the mode of your watch.

  • When you are in time mode, a setting (such as minutes, hours, date, etc.) will usually flash.
  • If your watch has a recessed button and another button, the recessed button is probably for changing modes and the other for adjusting settings.
  • Do not use a pencil to press recessed buttons. If the tip of the pencil breaks off in the hole, it can jam the knob, making it impossible to set.

Step 3. Put multi-button watches in time mode

If the buttons on your watch are not labeled, you may have to click the buttons randomly until you find the button to change the mode. The minutes or hours of most digital watches will flash when you are in time mode.

  • In general, only one unit (minutes, hours, date) will flash at a time. Some watches will indicate the choice of an option differently, for example with an underline or a frame.
  • Complicated watches sometimes have many functions. Familiarize yourself with these by pressing buttons to see how they affect the watch's appearance.
  • Some watches may not have a mode button, in which case you will need to use the 'Set' button as described in the next step.

Step 4. Press the 'Set' button to enter the time setting mode (if applicable)

If your watch only has a 'Set' button, you may only need to press this to enter time mode. Other watches may require you to use the 'Mode' button to enter the time mode and the 'Set' button to set the time.

Set a Digital Watch Step 1

Step 5. Contact the manufacturer or find a manual for complicated watches

If your watch is particularly complicated and you don't have an instruction manual, look up a digital manual online. Digital manuals can be found with an online keyword search for your watch brand and model.

  • If a digital manual cannot be found, find and call your watch's customer service number.
  • Model and brand information is usually written or engraved on the back of the watch, or somewhere on the dial.

Part 2 of 2: Change settings

Step 1. Change the minutes with the forward button

Usually the first option you can change is the minute setting, which should flash to indicate it's selected. While it is flashing, press the advance button to advance the time. Press the button slowly so that you don't accidentally miss the time you want to set.

  • Simple watches probably only have two buttons: one to change the mode and the other to advance settings one unit per button press.
  • Most watches will cycle through the settings from smallest to largest (such as 1 minute to 59 minutes) or first to last (such as Sunday to Saturday), before repeating the lowest/first option.
  • Multi-button watches sometimes use the 'Reset', 'Adjust' or 'Set' buttons to advance the settings one unit at a time.

Step 2. Set the hours

Click the mode button again to select the hours. You will know when they are selected because, like the minutes, they will flash. Once they do, use the forward function to set the hours on your watch in the same way.

Step #3. Change other settings as needed, such as the date and day of the week

The usual order for the mode options is: minutes, hours, AM/PM, date, and day of the week. Cycle through these options by pressing the mode button and change the selected setting with the forward button.

Some watches may have specific button combinations for certain settings. For example, you may have to hold down a button for a few seconds to set an alarm

Set a Digital Watch Step 9

Step 4. Exit time setting mode by returning to normal mode

When all your settings are to your liking, press the 'Set' button to finalize the time and return to normal mode. If your watch doesn't have a 'Setup' button, click the 'Mode' button until no more settings are flashing/lighting.


  • Don't be afraid to familiarize yourself with your watch's settings again by pressing buttons freely before setting the time.
  • YouTube is a good place to find instructional videos on how to set up a digital watch. If you don't know the exact model number of the watch, it is usually engraved on the back of the watch.

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