Back in 1945 when Rolex was celebrating its 40th birthday (see Beckertime’s Rolex History here) at Rolex continued to innovate by releasing the Datejust Caliber 740, the world’s first automatic date mechanism in a wristwatch. The watch was called the DateJust because the date would progress “just in time” precisely at midnight without delay. Since that time, other watch manufacturers have included day and date displays in their watches, but how the date is initially set and how the date advances vary among the non-Rolex watches.
Even though the date wheel changes precisely at Midnight, getting the correct date to show on a Rolex watch has evolved over the years. Because the date advances once every 24 hours, it is important to have the date correct in relation to the hour hand progressing before Noon, or after Noon, depending upon the actual time of day when the watch is set. There is always the person who posts a question on the Internet asking why his/her watch changes the date at mid-day at Noon rather than at Midnight. Obviously someone who does not understand that a date wheel is precise, but is clueless as to whether 12:00 o’clock is Noon or Midnight.
Rolex used the following methods for setting the date and day wheels (day wheels on the President only):
Non-Quickset: This means that you have to use the winding crown to rotate the hands in order for the correct date to show. Be sure only to rotate the hands clockwise, and progress towards the correct date. Never rotate the hands counter-clockwise (backwards). Rolex evolved away from Non-Quickset method in the early 1970’s.
Quickset: Quickset is when you have to get the hour hand in the correct position with the crown in the third position, then depressing the crown to the second position and rotate the date wheel to the correct date. Most modern mechanical watches operate this way.
Single Quickset: Single Quickset only applies to the Rolex President wristwatch that has both a day and date wheel. With a Single Quickset, the day has to be selected by rotating the hour hand in 12 hour rotations until the correct day appears, but not the date. The date utilizes a different crown position and changes in Quickset fashion.
Double Quickset: Like Single Quickset, this applies only for the Rolex President whereby both the day and date progress simultaneously by turning the crown only and not the hour hands.
Directions on how to set your Rolex can be found at Beckertime.
Because other movements, notably ETA and Seiko, whereby the date starts its progression at 10:00PM and fully changes at 2:00AM, there is the myth that Rolex date setting should not be done between these times. Although correct for ETA and Seiko movements, it is NOT true for Rolex. The Rolex day and date can be set at any time with no damage to the movement.