"Your automatic watch is a marvel of engineering, powered
only by your natural day to day movements."
There is something incredibly special about looking down at your wrist and seeing your precious watch ticking away without the need for any batteries. If you only have 1 watch that you wear every day, it is easy to keep it alive and you may never even think about needing a watch winder.
But alas you are here, which means you are likely to be an enthusiast. As enthusiasts ourselves, we quickly found ourselves with more watches than wrists and trying to keep our automatic watches alive became quite a task. We ended up looking at the market to find a solution and went through a whole range of watch winders, from entry level eBay watch winders and Amazon watch winders to eventually high-end European and Swiss watch winders that completely changed what we thought a watch winder should be. Here we will share with you some of what we’ve learned and what to look out for when you are making a decision to purchase a watch winder.
What is a watch winder?
A watch winder is a device that is used to keep your automatic watches running when you are not wearing them. Your automatic watch is equipped with a rotor that moves when you wear it and that keeps the mainspring wound. The mainspring’s job is to store energy and power your watch. When you aren’t wearing your watch, this rotor does not move and eventually, your watch will stop running. Unless you’re lucky enough to be sporting an IWC Big Pilot’s watch which boasts an in-house movement with a 7 day power reserve, or an Officine Panerai Luminor 1950 with a 10 day power reserve, your typical watch will run out of gas within 35-42 hours. A watch winder's job is to keep your watch alive past this time so that you can enjoy your watch any time you want without needing to manually wind your watch again.
How does a watch winder work?
A watch winder functions by rotating your watch periodically to simulate wear. This rotation turns the rotor in your automatic watch and keeps your watch wound. The watch winder does this using either a power adapter or battery and will turn at set intervals. At its most basic form, it’ll rotate in one direction for a certain amount of time, stop for a certain amount of time, then rotate again, with no available input from you. As you move up the range, you’ll be able to configure and program your watch winder to do exactly what you want it to do (direction of rotation, frequency of rotations, amount of rotations, speed of rotations, and even where to stop).
Do I need a watch winder?
A watch winder is first and foremost a convenience item. If you’ve ever gotten dressed for the day and went to put on your watch only to find it dead and require winding (or worse, realised it was dead after wearing it for a half a day), then you may want to consider a watch winder. A reliable watch winder allows you to pick up any automatic watch for the day and simply go without the need for any winding and is perfect for a busy lifestyle.
A watch winder can also be considered a necessity if you happen to own watches with more complicated movements. If your watch has a perpetual calendar, an annual calendar, a moon-phase, it can be a complicated and time consuming task to correctly set it once the watch has stopped for any period of time. Not to mention you run the risk of damaging the watch each time you set it (the crown of a watch is where most of the damage to the watch occurs, especially if your watch has a screw-down crown). By storing them in a reliable watch winder, you can be sure that the date is always correct and the moon is tracking perfectly.
Additionally, many vintage watches do not have quick-set date functionality. This means that you need to advance your watch 24 hours to move the date display by 1. This can be very tedious (e.g. if it’s the 30th and your watch has stopped on the 1st, you’ll be advancing time by 24 hours 29 times). By using a watch winder, you can avoid this task entirely.
What should I be looking out for when purchasing a watch winder?
Searching for your first watch winder can be a daunting task, with quite a large price difference between the cheapest and most expensive watch winders.
Things we suggest you look out for are:
At Winders and Wonders we source only the best watch winders from Italy and Switzerland. Our watch winders are handmade using only the finest sustainably sourced materials including wood, leather, glass, plastic and metals. The motors are designed and manufactured in Switzerland amongst the most prestigious and advanced watchhouses, drawing inspiration from their precise movements and technical innovations. Unfortunately, the majority of the market is full of watch winders of lower build quality, resulting in watch winders that may live a short life, have noisy motors that interrupt your work or sleep (depending on where you place it), or even motors that aren’t shielded which may cause your watch to become magnetised over time, causing it to run inaccurately. We proudly import and promote watch winder that use only high quality materials and we clearly state details of what motor is being used and its origin.
Depending on your watch, it may only wind when rotated in a certain direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise or bidirectionally). By choosing a programmable watch winder, you’ll be able to ensure your watch stays wound correctly. Additionally, each watch requires a different number of turns per day (TDP) to stay wound. Most cheap watch winders do not allow you to set the TDP, resulting in some watches not being wound enough to stay beating, and others constantly engaging the slipping bridle (a mechanism that exists in most modern automatic watches to ensure watches can’t be overwound). This increases the amount of wear on the slipping bridle. A correctly programmed watch winder will keep your watch running without fully maxing out it’s power reserve and therefore never engaging the slipping bridle.Finally, if you have any vintage watches in your collection, it is recommended that you check whether it has a slipping bridle. If it doesn’t, you will run the risk of overwinding your precious watch using a non-programmable watch winder.
If you like to display your watches, do you want your watch winder to stop winding with your watch sitting proudly at 12 o’clock position? If so, you need a watch winder with a motor that is position aware. Watch winders with SwissKubiK motors such as the Couture, Rotor 1, Rotor 6, Rotor 7 and Rotor 9 range [link each to the respective collections both for SEO/internal linking as well as client convenience] can all be set to finish winding with the watches stopping face-up and perfectly vertical for all to see. This is extra important when you have a multi-watch winder, with cheaper models stopping with watches facing in all different directions. Some watch winders, such as the SwissKubiK Couture[link to collection] and Scatola Del Tempo Rotor [link to collection] will even allow you to sync them together so they can turn at the same time or stop at the same positions once winding is complete.
When choosing your watch winder, look at its design and inspect it carefully. Many cheaper watch winders feature cheap wood veneers and low quality plastics. Additionally, you may find cheap pleather materials internally or externally that will wear poorly over time, losing shape or peeling. These materials used externally are also a good indicator of a cheaper motor that may be unreliable, load or not magnetically shielded. Winders and Wonders we carefully inspect the quality and consistency of all our products. Our products are made by hand from selective materials such as precious woods, silks and the finest Italian leathers.
Watch winders all feature a holder of some kind for your watch. They are typically either a cushion pillow or a spring-loaded mechanism. For cushions, it’s important that they are plush enough to correctly expand your watch without overly stretching or deforming your watch. For spring-loaded mechanisms, it’s important that they are strong enough to hold your watch securely without stretching it out. A well designed watch winder will have holders that are finely constructed to secure your watch without unnecessary stretching or deformation.
While other build quality factors often show their flaws over time, one of the first things that will cause frustration will be the noise generated by your watch winder. A lot of cheaper watch winders will be equipped with noisy motors and minimal sound dampening which can be irritating. This is one of the biggest complaints we hear, and is the most common reason why people who have purchased other watch winders online are upgrading to our silent high-end watch winders.
Most watch winders have a power adapted and must always be plugged in, requiring them to be near a power outlet. Battery powered watch winders are also available, however most battery powered watch winders often require frequent battery changes and most users find themselves not realising until they find their watches have run out of juice. At Winders and Wonders, even our entry level single watch winders like the SwissKubiK Couture and Scatola del Tempo Rotor 1 come equipped with batteries that are rated for 3 years! That means you can proudly display your watches wherever you’d like without being tied down to your nearest power outlet, or safely store them in a safe knowing they will stay powered and wound for their next outing. The motors and batteries generate minimal friction and heat, meaning they can be stored in an airtight safe without risk of overheating.
If the watch winder you are considering does not clearly communicate any of these features proudly, it’s likely that these features do not exist!
Will using a watch winder damage my watch? Can my watch be overwound?Using a quality watch winder that is appropriately configured for your watch will not damage your watch. However, there may be circumstances
Use of watch winders that cannot be configured can leave your watch constantly at maximum power reserve, causing your watch to engage its slipping bridle. The slipping bridle’s function is to ensure your watch cannot be overwound. If your watch winder keeps your watch fully wound at all times, then your slipping bridle will be constantly engaged and may wear over time. If your watch winder cannot be configured, you can minimise this risk by checking how many times your watch needs to be rotated to be fully wound, and check the rating of your watch winder. If it’s below the amount required, you should be good to go.
Some cheap watch winders may have unshielded motors which can cause your watch to become magnetised. If this is the case, your watch will run significantly faster than it should and will require demagnetisation.
Stretched Watch Bands:
If your watch winder is equipped with cushions that aren’t plush or correctly sized, or spring loaded watch holders that hold too aggressively, you may find your watch bands stretching or leaving unsightly crease marks. Make sure your watch band isn’t being stressed in your watch winder. As not all wrists are the same, high quality watch winders may even have alternative holder sizes available.
What is an example of a quality watch winder?
A high quality watch winder should be made from the highest quality materials and feature most (if not all) of the features we’ve outlined. At Winders and Wonders, we searched the globe to find the best possible watch winders not only for our timepieces, but for yours as well. All our watch winders are programmable, feature exceptional high quality Swiss motors from SwissKubiK and are handcrafted with beautiful leathers and the highest quality materials. The Couture range comes to us from Switzerland, while our Scatola Del Tempo range of watch winders come from Italy, combining Italian quality, design and flair with the impeccable quality of Swiss engineering!
A high quality watch winder should also be backed by a long warranty. These watch winders are backed by a 3 year local warranty with our offices in Sydney NSW.
Can I see the Couture watch winder or Scatola Del Tempo Rotor watch winder in Sydney?
Absolutely! We’ve partnered with Sydney’s premier jeweller, J Farren Price, who have a range of our Couture and Scatola Del Tempo Rotor watch winders in stock, ready for your viewing!