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Mechanical Watches & Shabbat

The Daily Halacha Moment - Mechanical Watches & Shabbat

״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)

“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


May one wind or change the time on a mechanical watch on Shabbat?


A mechanical watch that requires winding in order for it to work should not be wound on Shabbat. However, one may ask a non-Jew to wind it. Ashkenazim hold that one may only ask a non-jew if it is needed for a mitzvah or for a sick person. If the watch is already wound, and one wants to wind it more, then he may do so on Shabbat. Some Ashkenazim refrain from winding more. [1] Similarly, a watch that works through movement of one’s hand, is permitted to be worn on Shabbat. [2] Other mechanical items, such as a toy train may be wound on Shabbat. [3]

Furthermore, many poskim rule that one may adjust the time on a mechanical watch on Shabbat. However, a watch that runs on electricity may not be adjusted if by adjusting it one will have to stop the flow of electricity. This is not considered a repair, because setting the time is a normal adjustment that is required occasionally, and normal adjustments do not fall under the category of Makeh BePatish. [See Sources in 4 for further explanation] Some are stringent, one should follow ones custom. [5]


[1]. Mishnah Berurah 338:15; Nishmat Shabbat, 3:379; Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 5, pp. 353-357; Halichot Olam, vol. 4, p. 265; Menuchat Ahavah, vol. 3, 24:15.

[2]. See Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 5, p. 363; Halichot Olam, vol. 4, p. 265; Yabia Omer, vol. 6, 35:8 and vol. 7, 42:5; Yechaveh Daat 2:48; Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchatah 28:28 and footnote 61; Tzitz Eliezer, vol. 9, 20:4. It seems that one should be stringent not to pick up the watch if it is not currently working. See also in Orchot Shabbat 26:50.

[3]. Halichot Olam, vol. 4, p. 241; Be’er Moshe 6:32; Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchatah ch. 16, footnote 43; Ohr LeTzion, vol. 2, 42:3.

[4]. Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 5, pp. 361-362; Halichot Olam, vol. 4, p. 265. See also Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchatah ch. 28, footnote 54.

[5]. See Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchatah ch. 28, footnote 54 in the name of the Kaf HaChaim 308:280 that the custom of Yerushalayim is to refrain from doing so.

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