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How to set an Eco-Drive watch

I got an Citizen Eco-Drive watch off eBay a few of months ago. As I blogged, the instructions for setting it are incomprehensible. So I posted my own instructions into the entry for Eco-Drive at Wikipedia . But I’m afraid an editor will take it down since I think Wikipedia doesn’t like “how-to” articles. So, I’m going to post it here, just in case.

How to set a Citizen Eco-Drive watch

The English-language instructions for setting Eco-Drive watches are close to incomprehensible. Here are instructions for one particular model – BL5XXX – that probably hold for similar Eco-Drive watches. This particular model has three small dials in addition to the main face, two buttons and a stem. Its functionality includes an alarm clock, a chronograph (i.e., stop watch) and a perpetual calendar.

Here is how these instructions will refer to the various elements of the watch:

Main Face: The place where the main minute, hour and second hands are.
Dial A: The upper left small dial numbered up to 24. Underneath it says “Chronograph” and “Alarm”
Dial B: The upper right small dial numbered 0-8. Underneath it says “Perpetual calendar”
Dial C: The bottom middle small dial. It has four labels that repeat around the circle: TME (time), CHR (stop watch), L-TM (local time) and ALM (alarm)
Button A: The top button
Button B: The bottom button
Stem In: The stem in its normal position, full pressed into the watch
Stem Mid: The stem in its middle position
Stem Out: The stem pulled out all the way into this third position.

Turning the stem to the right means giving it a half turn or so in a clockwise direction. This generally turns the affected hand counter-clockwise. Likewise, turning to the left means turning the stem counter-clockwise, generally causing the affected hand to turn clockwise.

Changing modes

With the stem in, give the stem a little twist in either direction. This will cause the hand on Dial C to move, changing the mode of the clock from TME (normal time), CHR (using the stop watch), L-TM (local time) and ALM (setting the alarm). Depending on the function, changing modes may automatically change the big hands on the main face.

Setting the Perpetual Calendar

Make sure Dial C is set to TME. (See “Changing modes” above.)

Set the stem to mid. Turning it to the left will set the date. If you give it a full turn instead, the date will change continuously until you give it another little spin. (It can be difficult to get the stem spun just right to start the continuous date changing.)

The second hand points to the month. E.g., if it is pointing to 1, your watch thinks it is January. If it points at 12, your watch thinks it is December. Press B once to advance the second hand by one month.

Now you have to tell it when the next leap year is coming. Dial B indicates that. If the hand on Dial B is pointing at 0, then your watch thinks it is currently a leap year. If it points at 1, it thinks it was a leap year last year. If it points at 2, it thinks it was a leap year two years ago. And if it points at 3, it thinks it was a leap year three years ago (and that therefore next year is a leap year). Adjust this by pushing Button A once for every year you want to advance Dial B.

Push the stem all the way in. Your watch is now set to keep track of dates for the next few decades.

Setting the time

Make sure Dial C is set to TME. (See “Changing modes” above.)

Pull the stem to its out position. The second hand should advance to 12.

Turn the stem to the right or left to cause the big hands to turn. (To the right moves the hands clockwise.) The hand in Dial A will turn. Give the stem a little turn in the other direction to stop the movement. (NOTE: Dial A tells you whether the big hands are showing AM or PM; if you are setting the watch to 7:00pm (or 19:00, if you prefer), for example, the hand on Dial A should be pointing at 19. To make the hands move faster, give the stem two or three fast turns. (NOTE: This doesn’t always work.)

Push the stem in all the way.

Setting the date

Make sure Dial C is set to TME. (See “Changing modes” above.)

Pull the stem to its mid position.

Turn the stem to the left to cause the date number to change. (Give the stem a little turn in the other direction to stop the movement.) The big hands will move as the date is set. (NOTE: This doesn’t always work.) To make the dial move faster, give the stem two or three fast turns.

Push the stem in all the way.

Using the stopwatch

The stopwatch, or “chronograph,” can measure up to an hour.

Set Dial C to CHR. (See “Changing modes” above.) The second hand will advance to 12. Button A starts and stops the stopwatch. Pressing Button A continuously resets the stopwatch to 0. Dial B records minutes.

Using local time

Set Dial C to L-TM. (See “Changing modes” above.)

Pull the stem all the way out. Turn the stem left or right once for each hour you want to advance or setback the time. When you’re done, press the stem back in. So long as you are in L-TM mode, the watch will show local time. If you set the mode to TIM, it will show the time where you started.

For example, if you are visiting some place three hours ahead of your home, you would go into L-TM mode, pull the stem all the way out, and turn it stem three times to the right.

NOTE: If in setting local time you go past midnight, the calendar date will change

The alarm

(I think these instructions are correct.) To set the alarm, set Dial C to ALM. (See “Changing modes” above.) The hands move to whatever time the alarm had been set to previously.

Pull the stem out fully. Set the time you want the alarm to go off by turning the stem. Check Dial A to make sure you have it set for AM or PM. (For example, to set the alarm to go off at 11:30 PM, Dial A should point to one tick before 24. Push the stem in. The alarm is now set.

To turn off the alarm when it is beeping, press Button A.

To un-set the alarm so it won’t go off at its appointed time, set Dial C to ALM and pull out the stem. Pressing Button A toggles the alarm on and off. You can tell whether it’s on by looking at the second hand. If it is pointing to 41 minutes after the hour, the alarm is on. If it is pointing to 37 minutes after the hour, it is off. Why Citizen decided to make the difference a matter of four minutes beats the heck out of me.

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64 Responses to “How to set an Eco-Drive watch”

  1. This is great. I post the instructions for my watches on my blog, too — because who’s going to remember where that little piece of paper is? Plus, they’re rarely online.

    The best part is whenever we have to change the clocks forward or back I get “Thank you!” comments on those posts.

  2. The Howto page at Wikipedia has the following to say: “Many how-to’s are found in Wikibooks on the How-tos bookshelf. Most How-tos now on Wikipedia are in the process of being moved to Wikibooks.

  3. wikiHow is a collaborative writing project to build the world’s largest how-to manual

  4. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, I was about to throw the eco-drive in the garbage.

  5. How do you set (and more importantly enable/disable the alarm)? I lost my manual and the alarm goes off every day!


  6. Thanks for this, it sure helped!

  7. Many thanks, my watch was a month behind and thought september had 31 days, took until today before I realised!!

  8. Thanks the info was helpful, picked up watch at pawn shop. Instructions rigth on time

  9. Thanks for the info, I lost my book and during a plane trip that took 8 hours I was bored and fiddled with my watch and it went all wonky. I lost my calendar for seven months and was too lazy to look up how to fix it. Now I know what date it is! YAY!

  10. Thanks for the useful help. Watch bought new with the lamest instructions ever, never mentioned any of the 3 dials or how use them!

    Thanks again.

  11. Hi

    I found your instruction very helpful. I also found this flash tutorial (my watch looks different but same principle applies)which will hopefully help someone else in the future.



  12. Hi- afew years ago I bought my son an eco-drive watch–chronograph. it seems to be dead—how do I check it? how do I set it? I’ve gone to many jewellery stores and they cannot seem to help’?

  13. i had my eco drive as a present 3 years ago and the guy in the shop didnt set it properly, and me being useless lost the instructions and so have spent the last 3 years forwarding the date. NO MORE!!!!! ITS SET.
    Thank You very much
    P.S. They are fantastic watches

  14. Thank you so much! I got an eco-drive for Christmas and I just got to wear it!!

  15. had an eco drive for xmas superb watch until now, only 4 mnths old but it has stopped. cant remember if you have to do anything to start it after you have reset everything,lost my instructions, maybe its fooked.

  16. Could you possibly update to include instructions on using the alarm function?

    Other than this one omission, your information was most helpful.

  17. Bruce, I would if I could but I can’t. If you figure out how to set the alarm, would you let me know and I’ll add the instructions here.

    Together, by combining the world’s intelligence, maybe we can figure out how to set the @!#$-ing alarm on these watches. :)

  18. If you’re ever looking for the manual (and yes they are hard to understand), I found mine online at

  19. Thanks so much, I’ve been living with the alarm on for almost 2 years, because my mom gave me the watch as a gift with no manual.

  20. Thanks …I had bought eco drive watch 3 years back but didnt know how to handle it …thanks to you I can use it now.

  21. Thanks so much, I got this watch about a year ago, and have lost the instructions, this has helped me out loads.

  22. Thank God someone figured this contemptible gadget out! I was getting ready to feed this thing into a garbage disposal, naturally I’ve had to put up with all the annoying “features” of this satanic wristwatch for a couple of years now. I’ve followed your instructions and I’m hoping for the best. Thanks bud.

  23. thanks a million…this is the second time I’ve been to the site in a couple of years. I don’t know what my watch and I would do without you.

  24. Great job, my friend…

    My model is a little different but the way to set it is very similar… You saved me a lot of headches….

    Thanks again, MASTER!!!

  25. Thanks so much. I could not find the instruction book and was thinking perpetual calendar would never work. Finally I have set the date/time correctly

  26. Awesome. Helped me out a lot. Like everyone else here, i have no idea where my instructions are. =)

  27. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!! When I bought this watch for my boyfriend we royally screwed it up by messing with the stem. I took it back to Zales the next day for the salesman to fix and he couldn’t even fix it. He blamed it on the store being too busy after Christmas. He wanted me to leave the watch there for three days, however this was not an option. After googling, I found this blog that I am ever so grateful for. Not only did I set the watch but I also figured out what each small dial inside meant also. Oh, yeah and the salesman couldn’t get it set right because he kept trying to set it in local mode!!!!! I should go get a job there (smile)!!! Thanks again……………….

  28. Thanks for the info. Not only do I not know where my instructions are, neither does the jeweler where I purchased the watch. Now I understand the function of the second hand (indicates the month), how to set it and the perpetual calendar. Great job:)

  29. Thank you for this! I was just cleaning out my dresser and found my old EcoDrive watch and can’t, for the life of me, figure out how to get it to work. :)

  30. You are the man. I received this very nice watch as a Christmas gift and I thought the battery was dead for a while. Then I took it to a jewerler and he said it was solar powered and he set the time for me. It must have been weird because the date matched up to the date he charged the watch. In January however the 31st never appeared. Thanks to your instructions I found out that my watch though it was may 12 and not feb 11. I have now set it correctly and learned about this great watch. You should win an award.

  31. to enable/disable the alarm: turn the crown until dial “C” is set to “alm”. This shows the time setting for the alarm. pull the crown all the way out (2nd position) and press the “A” button to toggle between on and off. (each press changes it, so if it is on, press once and it will be off)

  32. Alarm? It’s not that hard. Twist the stem until Dial C is at ALM. The hands will start moving to the currently set alarm time. Stem out. Give it a twist as mentioned above to get it spinning. You can go either direction. It takes a little practice to get the hands to spin … if you mess up they just advance one minute. Give a half twist in the opposite direction when you’re ready to stop.

    As far as AM/PM, keep an eye on Dial A. If it’s on the “less than 12” side … you’re am. If it’s on the other side, you’re pm.

    As soon as you set the alarm, it’s automatically turned on (actually as soon as you pull the stem out it turns on). To turn the alarm OFF, set dial C to ALM. Stem out. Push button A. You’ll see the second hand spin all the way around and stop at the word “off” on the edge of the face.

    Now, can someone tell me why my date is always a day off whenever the time changes from or to Daylight Savings Time?

  33. Thank you for streamlining those instructions – Big help.

  34. Thank-you for creating this site. It is very useful.

    I think that I may be able to help with regard to setting the alarm. First read the instructions on the web site referred to above. Secondly, visit your local hardware shop and buy 25 litres of paint. Return home and paint a room of your choice. Whilst doing so think about the instructions for setting the alarm. Once the room has been painted you should realise that the instructions are meaningless and be so annoyed that you throw your watch at the newly painted wall. Retrieve the watch and stamp on it. You should then have enough paint left to repair the damage to the wall caused by the watch and also to drown the watch in the remaining paint.

    Finally, return to the hardware shop. Buy some insulating tape and a small alarm clock. Tape the clock to your wrist.

    Thereafter, not only will you be free from stress but you’ll also have a great fashion item to show off down your local boozer.

  35. If you don’t want to follow my previous advice try this:

    Set Dial C to ALM. (Hands will probably move to a previously set alarm time.)

    Pull out stem fully.

    Move stem (either way), hands will move. Stop them at the alarm time you want.

    When you push in the stem the alarm is set.

    Return Dial C to TIME and the hands will return to the correct time.

    Dial A shows whether you’ve set it for am or pm.

    I think that you un-set it by setting Dial C to ALM and pressing Button A (or by setting Dial C to ALM, pulling out Stem fully and pressing Button A). If pressing Button A makes a noise the alarm is set; if not it is unset.

    Good luck!

    PS. None of the above will work if the watch has not been ‘0’ set. I’m not going to try and explain that!

  36. Oh my god thank you sooo much. I got this as a gift but there were no instructions and i couldn’t find one online. i was able to set it! thank you oh so much!

  37. Outstanding post , Thank you very much for the info , I was at a loss on how to set the watch correctly, cheers.

  38. Thankx! I just coudn´t make my watch work right…

    You just saved me!

    Newton Uzeda

  39. Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, my model (E760) is quite different than the one you are covering here.

    I found that most instruction manuals are available at There are even some interactive manuals.

  40. Thanks man…Thanks to you my watch is set.

  41. First, thank you D. Weinberger (and Eric Vanhove).

    FYI, to all those who own Citizen Eco-Drive watches: whatever you do, don’t scratch the crystal.

    I bumped my eco drive watch against a car once and scratched the crystal, and it never gave the correct time again.

    The watch gets its power from light, and apparently scuffing or scratching the crystal disrupts its collection of energy enough to greatly affect the watch’s accuracy.

    The watched only worked with the crystal was replaced ($29).

    Thanks again for the instructions though.

  42. To set the alarm:

    1 – Put the watch in alarm mode (turn the stem until dial C points to ALM)

    2 – Pull the stem out and the watch will advance to the time the alarm is set for and (whether or not the alarm was set to go off before you started this process) the second hand will point just after 8 o’clock, which indicates that the alarm is set to go off.

    3 – Change the alarm time (by turning the stem the same as you would to set the time) if you want an alarm.

    4 – To turn the alarm off, press the A button and the second hand will do an almost complete lap, stopping just before 8 o’clock, which indicates that the alarm is off.

    5 – Press the stem back in and turn it to get the watch back into time mode.

    All of these instructions assume that your watch wasn’t repaired (like mine) by a clueless watchsmith who moved the second hand by 33 seconds, in which case it points a little before and a little after 3 and setting the time exactly is impossible.

  43. Thanks heaps. now i finally know how to set my watch calendar!!!

  44. Thanks for posting this ,I had a link to a video,that showed how to set the Eco Drive,but I formatted and lost it.I went to the Citizen site and they had a PDF file but I couldn’t find my E812 on it .Most of the Eco Drives set almost the same I think.Does anybody else haave the problem when you look down to check the time ,the dial has moved off of TME and you have to set it back to see the time.It rubs against my wrist and moves it away from TME.I thought about putting another link in the band.

  45. Many thanks sir !
    I bought the same watch from e-bay yesterday, its not even here that I knew it would be a hassle to set it (having owned a citizen in the past !)

    Thanks for taking the ” time ” to do this

  46. i still can’t get mine to work…’s times like this when having a nice watch sucks….

  47. went to the interactive tutorial on the citizen watch website and fixed it super fast…

  48. Brilliant… I hate testing my eyes on tiny script in the instructions supplied with the watch. In my case I was lucky and when my watch got the dates confused I took it back to the shop I bought it from and they sorted everything for me as it was only relatively new and still under warranty. Might not be so lucky next time.

    I have save these instructions now just in case. I love the answer in the supplied instructions with the watch. If the time goes astray use our instructions to reset the perpetual calendar.

    Nice watch and now a simple easy to follow workable set of instructions.

    Thank You.

  49. Thank you so much!. VERY Helpful.

  50. […] change that.  The best thing about an Apple watch?  I would never, ever have to figure out how to set the time (I gave up on the date years ago) on my Citizen Eco-Drive.  If Apple makes a watch, I hope […]

  51. Your instructions are better than the actual manual.



  52. I have the E82 Citizen and I am trying to set the leap year function, I go through the steps, set the leap year to 1 since 2012 was a leap year, push the stem back in and the leap year goes back to 0, it should stay at 1, right? It is 2013

  53. Thanks so much, lost my manual and had inadvertently set my alarm to go off at midnight :-( Been driving me nuts. Not sure why it took so long for me to google: how do I turn off the alarm on my eco-drive watch. Glad your post came up first. Thank you again

  54. Thank you so much for giving everyone an extraordinarily special opportunity to read critical reviews from this site. your blog is very interesting
    Eco Driving uk

  55. My issue ain’t in the books!!!! My watch has two displays – analogue with rotating hands and digital on small b&w LCD displays. The analogue part is working fine and the watch keeps time. But the digital displays have gone corrupt and are no longer meaningful. I have tried to run the battery down by putting said watch in a black plastic bag in a drawer. But after 4 weeks when I opened it it still showed the correct analogue time and the digital displays had not reset to what they should be. How can I reset the watch please – well actually the digital displays? Any ideas? Thank you.

  56. Thank you very much for the simple instructions. Great effort!!!

  57. I have the E812, it is about 4 years old and the mode indicator dial has started slipping, meaning I can never tell which mode the watch is actually in. Very frustrating given that the watch is prone to changing modes several times a day, due to the crown catching on my hand. Anyone else suffer from the same issues?

  58. Hi, I have a citizen Eco E812 watch, I’ve not worn it for about two years.
    I’m struggling to get it to do anything , the red hand is constantly stuck on alarm off position.
    Have tried most of the options above to know joy .

    Pls help

  59. how can I set the mode on DIAL A ?

    Thanks for your help on this!

  60. I have a brand new Citizen E820, but cannot get the alarm to work. I follow the full instructions and finally push the crown back two clicks. Please note there are no more setting alarm instructions. If I then leave the mode (bottom) dial on ALM the watch remains stationary (in limbo) – if I then pull out the crown one click and turn the mode to TME and push in the crown one click the watch returns to the correct time and functions normally, but the alarm does not go off. What do I have to do after setting the alarm and finally pushing the crown back two clicks?

  61. I wish I knew, Fred. I stopped using my Eco after the capacitor needed replacing. No battery replacement required because it’s solar-powered? Sure. But having to replace the capacitor is pretty much the same thing.

    I own a Pebble watch now and I love it. SOOOO much easier to use.

  62. really peeps? Is thinking a lost art?

    honestly.. I figured out all the settings on my watch with no instructions the watch really is intuitive.

    Secondly.. if you did need instructions.. consider going to the manufactures website.

    painless video that stops itself so you can keep up… even a dumb monkey can follow along.

    Best to all.

  63. […] is a Citizen Eco-Drive. The instructions are funky, plus I can never find the instruction booklet. Dave Weinberger has instructions for setting a bunch of Eco-Drive functions. But his instructions didn’t cover how to reset the second hand if it gets jolted out of […]

  64. Will the leap year indicator, after set to Years after leap year, return to zero after putting crown back into lock position?

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