Part 2: Hands installation

Part 2: Hands installation

Welcome back to the second part of the watchmaking instructions. You can find the corresponding video instructions to this blog here:


 Now that we have installed the dial it is time to take a closer look at the watch hands and how to properly install them. You can see on the picture below, that through the central hole of our dial three cylinders protrude above the dial. These are actually parts of the gear train and without getting to technically in this post (there will be a separate post on the basic workings of an automatic watch), the watch main spring drives through various gears the minute wheel, which is directly visible. The minute gear also drives the remaining pinions through different gear transmission ratios. 

Back to the watch hands - we will now show you how to install the hands set in their respective place. 

Dial with watch hand pinion

The hour hand

Technically the easiest hand, since the largest and first to set. However there is one important step to take before we place the hand. Since we have a movement with a date function, we need to make sure that the "theoretical" time per date disc is similar to the time we want to show with the watch hands. What that means is, we need to know what time it is without having watch hands ....

While this sounds complicated, there is an easy way around it. We know that the dial disc will skip to the next date at midnight. We will therefore use the time setting function of the watch until the date disc jumps forward, indicated midnight. 

To set the time, you need to pull out the crown two times. You will feel two noticeable steps, when pulling on the crown. If you know start to turn the crown away from you (clockwise direction), you will see the small pinions move if you look very closely. Turn it until the date disc jumps forward and stop as soon as is fully jumps forward. Afterwards do not push the crown back in - as the Seiko NH35 is a hacking movement (see previous post), the movement will be fully stopped. This ensures not only that we can set the time precisely, but also that the seconds hand installation will be easier. 

Now to the hour hand. Once you have set the movement to midnight, the hour hand installation is fairly straight forward. Pick the hour hand up with your tweezers (the short hand with the largest hole) and carefully place it on the pinion. The hand should point directly at 12:00. 

Once the hand sits on the pinion and points precisely at the hour marker, pick up your watch hand press to push the hand down. Use the black press with the grey ending and place it on top of the hand (not on the pinion itself). Carefully press the hand down until it sits flush on the pinion. Check how deep down you pushed your hand - it should not be too high (as it would cause issues with the minute hand) while also not be too far down to touch the dial. 

Best case your hand looks like the picture below, if not you can use the watch hand levers and dial protector to remove your hands. 

Dial with installed hour hand

The minute hand 

Now that the hour hand is installed, you can follow the exact same approach for the minute hand. Carefully pick it up, place the minute hand on the pinion and point it directly at the 12th hour marker. Again, aim to point it precisely at the hour marker to ensure your minute and hour hand will be in line (e.g. minute hand will be exactly at 12, when an hour is reached). 

If you are satisfied with the placement, carefully push the hand down until it is flush. For the minute hand use the red watch hand press with the blue tip. The tip is slightly smaller and ensures you exercise even pressure on the ring of the hand. If you apply even pressure, the hand should be parallel to the dial. If you hand tip points up or down, it could collide with your other hands. Therefore, if you notice any curvature use your watch press again and press it evenly down to straight the hand. 

If everything went well, your hands should look like this. As your watch is still on time setting (crown pulled out to the second position) give it a few spins to see if the hands correctly align. Lastly turn it a full 24h forwards to see if the date jumps forward. If that all works correctly, move towards the final step - the seconds hand installation. 

Dial with hour and minute hands installed

The seconds hand

Now to the most difficult part. The seconds hand is the most fragile, easily bend and sits on the smallest pinion. The combination of these three factors mean we need to be extra careful when installing this hand. 

There are several ways how to place your seconds hand on the pinion. You can use some rodico to pick it up and place it correctly or as we show it in our video instructions with the help of your tweezers.

Remember that your movement is still "hacked" so your seconds hand wont move until you push the crown back in. If you placed your seconds hand on the pinion push the crown back in to see if it moves correctly. Your movement will not be "charged" or winded. After you pushed down the crown, start winding the movement by turning the crown away from you. In position 0 (all the way in), you will feel some light resistance when turning the crown - this means you are winding the main spring. Your second hands should start turning after 5-10 turns of the crown, but you should continue to wind it at the start which can be up to 60 turns. Don't worry - usually the movement of your wrist will be enough to keep your watch going unless you don't wear your watch every other day. 

If you seconds hand moves as expected, pull the crown back out and carefully push a little further on the second hand so it sits firmly on the pinion. Use the silver watch hand press with the white tip.

Take a look at the picture below to get an idea for how far down the seconds hand should be pushed. However, since the seconds hand is only open on one side you shouldn't be able to push it too far unless you are using far too much force. 

Hands - fully installed

Now that your hands are fully installed there is one last test to do: Push down the crown and let the seconds hand complete a full turn. Check if they come in contact with the minute hand. If they touch each other, the seconds hand is likely to stop and your watch would not be working correctly.

If you have any contact points, check which hand is not parallel to the dial. If it is the seconds hand try to use the hand press to ensure its alignment to be parallel. If your seconds hand is bend, please reach out to us and we can provide you with a replacement. 

I hope this instruction was helpful and if you have any questions or comments, please let me know. 



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