Beginners Guide to Automatic Watch Winders

Written by: Maz P
Updated on:
Rolex Sea Dweller Watch

Automatic watch winders are a common tool that watchmakers and collectors invest in when expanding their collection. Particularly if you have multiple timepieces, watch winders serve as a valuable tool for maintaining your watch collection whilst also offering an aesthetic display. However, watch winders are a hot topic in the watchmaking world and it is one that continues to have opposing views.

As the community has expanded, debates over their usefulness have multiplied. These debates now saturate online forums and blogs, reflecting a variety of perspectives. In the midst of these diverse viewpoints, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when contemplating a watch winder for yourself. To help you make an informed decision, I’ve put together this comprehensive guide to navigate the multitude of opinions and decide whether a watch winder is right for you.

What is a Watch Winder?

Automatic Watch Winder

A watch winder is designed specifically for automatic watches to keep them running even when not being worn. As a simple explanation of their function, a watch winder will rotate your watch several times per day.

Automatic watches are powered by the movement of your wrist as you wear it. If worn regularly, automatic watches will stay wound but if not worn and they lose movement, you may find your watch stops. A watch winder prevents this from happening.

If you have multiple automatic watches that you rotate for different occasions, a winder can be helpful during the periods when your watches rest. However, if you only have one automatic watch and wear it often, a winder might not be necessary. Automatic watches wind themselves as you wear them so if you only have the one and wear it daily, there is no need to invest in a watch winder.

Watch winders are relatively new compared to the long history of watchmaking and were developed to support self-winding movements. Apart from their practical function, winders also provide an elegant way to display your watches. The best winders combine reliable mechanics with attractive finishes and plush interiors to enhance your watches’ presentation.

How do Watch Winders Work

When you wear an automatic watch, the movement of your wrist powers an oscillating weight that winds the watch’s mainspring. A watch winder mimics this motion when your watch isn’t on your wrist and keeps the mainspring’s energy consistent to ensure accurate timekeeping.

A watch winder consists of a rotating platform or holder that securely holds the watch. It rotates the watch at regular intervals, simulating the natural motion of the wrist and ensuring that the watch remains wound and accurate even when it’s not being worn. This is particularly useful for watch enthusiasts who own multiple automatic watches and want to keep them all in running condition, even when not in use.

Are Watch Winders Necessary?

Watch winders are not necessary but they can be extremely beneficial, especially if you have a large watch collection. There are many situations where a watch winder might not be right for you. For example, if you mostly collect modern automatic watches without too many complications, you might not need a watch winder.

Watch winders are often recommended for collectors who own watches with multiple complications. Using a winder helps keep these intricacies running continuously, preventing the need for frequent adjustments that could potentially damage the movement.

Another good reason to consider a watch winder is if you own a vintage watch with a non-quickset date feature. A quickset date feature allows the date to be set independently from the hands. This allows you to set the date without going through a full 24-hour cycle.

Older watches that are non-quickset require manual adjustment every time the power reserve runs out. For instance, if you have an older Rolex Submariner without quickset, a winder can save you the effort of resetting the date every time.

Are Watch Winders Bad?

Whilst many love watch winders, there are also many arguments that suggest watch winders may be useless or even considered bad. The debate about watch winders centers on two main viewpoints. On one hand, some argue that using a watch winder is better for the long-term health of your watch’s movement. Yet others argue that winders may lead to unnecessary wear on a watch’s movement due to constant winding.

Overuse of a winder can lead to unnecessary wear on the watch’s movement, especially if the winder is not programmed correctly for the specific watch movement. Additionally, if a watch is left on a winder for extended periods without being worn, it might not experience the natural winding motion that occurs when worn on the wrist which in some cases could potentially affect the accuracy of the watch’s timekeeping.

However, if used correctly, this is rarely an issue when using a watch winder. A high-quality winder can help maintain your watch’s power reserve without overwinding whilst understanding your watch’s movement, its winding direction and the recommended rotations per day helps you to use it correctly.

It’s also important to remember that a watch’s service interval is also crucial for maintaining its health, regardless of whether it’s on a winder or worn daily. Winders offer convenience and preservation benefits but they should be used thoughtfully and combined with regular servicing.

Overall, watch winders are not bad but they need to be used responsibly. A watch winder can enhance your collection’s longevity and convenience when used responsibly alongside regular maintenance and proper setting adjustments.

Types of Automatic Watch Winders

Mains Powered Watch Winders

Mains powered watch winders are the most reliable and continuous solution for keeping your automatic watches wound and functioning accurately. There is no doubt that the main advantage is their consistent power source. You can rest assured that your watch will be ready to wear no matter how long it is kept on the winder.

Another benefit of mains-powered winders is their ability to accommodate a larger number of watches simultaneously. They can often come with multiple watch holders or compartments allowing you to efficiently wind and display your entire collection in one place. They also typically offer a wider range of customization options including rotation direction and speed settings that in some cases can be programmed independently to cater to various watch movement types.

However, there are some drawbacks to consider. There are limits on where you can place them as they need to be close to a power source and this also makes them less suitable for travel. Plus, the initial cost of purchasing a high-quality mains-powered winder can be higher compared to battery operated models. Whilst the initial cost may be high, a mains-powered watch winder is a great investment that will stand the test of time.

Heiden Monaco Single Watch Winder Heiden Monaco Single Watch Winder
Mains Powered: Yes
Battery Powered: Yes
Dimensions (LxWxH): 7 x 6.75 x 5 inches
04/18/2024 10:53 pm GMT

Battery Operated Watch Winders

Heiden Dual Powered Double Watch Winder Heiden Dual Powered Double Watch Winder
Mains Powered: Yes
Battery Powered: Yes
Dimensions (LxWxH): 13.46 x 11.85 x 8.66 inches
04/18/2024 11:30 pm GMT

Battery operated watch winders offer a convenient and portable solution for maintaining the accuracy and functionality of automatic watches. Unlike traditional winders that require a power outlet, battery operated models are not limited by location and can be placed anywhere you prefer whether on your desk, nightstand or even while traveling.

Whilst battery operated watch winders offer great flexibility and portability, there are some potential downsides to consider. For starters, batteries run out and you therefore need to monitor the watch winder more carefully to ensure it keeps functioning. Battery operated watch winders also have a tendency to be more temperamental. In some cases, they can have lower performance that may result in overwinding.

On the whole, battery operated watch winders provide an efficient and flexible solution for keeping your automatic watches running smoothly whether you’re at home or on the go.

Automatic Watch Winder Reviews

Automatic watch winders may be a hot topic but for many, they are essential companions offering an elegant solution to keep your timepieces ticking. However, with so many different watch winders on the market, it can be difficult to narrow it down and find which one is for you. Whilst every watch enthusiast will have a unique set of wants and needs, the following watch winders are some of the most incredible available on the market.

Barrington Automatic Single Watch Winder

The Barrington Automatic Single Watch Winder is a practical and aesthetically pleasing solution for watch enthusiasts looking to keep their watches in perfect condition. This compact and stylish winder offers a great balance between functionality and design with a sleek black faux leather exterior that seamlessly fits into any décor.

The single winder module is complemented by a soft cushion interior to ensure a snug and secure fit for your watch. The winder’s silent motor guarantees peaceful winding whilst the multiple rotation settings accommodate various watch brands and models. Its compact size also makes it ideal for small spaces. Simple in design, this watch winder is a great choice for anyone looking for a minimalist tool.

The Barrington Automatic Single Watch Winder can be mains or battery powered to allow true portability.

Barrington Automatic Single Watch Winder Barrington Automatic Single Watch Winder
Mains Powered: Yes
Battery Powered: Yes
Dimensions (LxWxH): 5.91 x 4.33 x 4.33 inches
04/18/2024 11:33 pm GMT
Rapport Single Watch Winder Rapport Single Watch Winder
Mains Powered: Yes
Battery Powered: Yes
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4.72 x 4.72 x 5.75 inches
04/19/2024 03:43 am GMT

Rapport Single Watch Winder

This watch winder by Rapport London exudes both elegance and functionality as well as dual power options – mains and batteries. Crafted to be a statement accessory as well as a function tool, this winder showcases impeccable craftsmanship and design. Its vibrant exterior adds a pop of color to any space whilst retaining an element of sophistication. What sets the Rapport London Watch Winder apart is its ability to accommodate a wide range of watches.

The winder’s whisper-quiet motor ensures that your timepieces are consistently wound without disturbing the ambiance of your environment. While the Rapport Single Watch Winder carries a premium price tag, its exceptional build quality, attention to detail and reliable winding performance make it a worthwhile investment for watch collectors who value both aesthetics and function.

Wolf Heritage Double Watch Winder

A remarkable accessory for watch collectors, the Wolf Heritage Double Watch Winder offers a harmonious blend of style and practicality. This winder exudes a timeless charm with its rich design and functionality whilst the elegant black faux leather exterior adds a touch of sophistication. Meanwhile, the glass cover allows you to admire your timepieces without opening the case.

Featuring a double winder, the Heritage series accommodates two automatic watches each receiving consistent winding to ensure accuracy and optimal performance. It also features an additional storage compartment, a thoughtful touch for keeping extra watch straps or other small essentials organized. The Wolf Heritage Double Watch Winder is a great storage solution for your timepieces and accessories whilst also offering a stylish look and functional role.

The Wolf Heritage Double Watch Winder also has the extra benefit of being mains or battery powered to provide true flexibility.

Wolf 270402 Heritage Double Watch Winder Wolf 270402 Heritage Double Watch Winder
Mains Powered:
Battery Powered:
Dimensions (LxWxH): 12.8 x 8.86 x 7.68 inches
04/19/2024 06:27 pm GMT
Benson Compact Series Triple Watch Winder Benson Compact Series Triple Watch Winder
Mains Powered: Yes
Battery Powered: No
Dimensions (LxWxH): 13.78 x 6.3 x 7.17 inches
04/19/2024 11:03 pm GMT

Benson Compact Series Triple Watch Winder

For those who have multiple timepieces in their collection, the mains powered Benson Compact Triple Watch Winder offers a sleek and compact solution. Available in multiple colorways, the winder exudes a contemporary elegance that effortlessly complements any space. Its triple winder module allows you to wind three watches simultaneously whilst the customizable rotation options cater to a diverse selection of watch brands and models.

Featuring an LED screen and an ultra-quiet Japanese motor, this winder operates silently and is a discreet addition to your room. It may come with a premium price tag, this winder is a worthy investment for serious collectors who seek a high-end and space-efficient winding solution.

Heiden Monaco Quad Watch Winder

The Heiden Monaco Watch Winder is meticulously designed offering both functionality and aesthetic appeal accommodating up to four watches. The winder is mains powered and boasts a refined appearance with a Japanese Mabuchi quiet motor that makes it blend seamlessly into the background. This quad watch winder is a great space-saving solution with a narrow design that can fit neatly into small spaces.

Watch collectors can simultaneously wind four watches without taking up too much space. Each winder can also be programmed independently allowing each timepiece to receive its recommended daily rotations for optimal performance. Supported by a great price tag, the Heiden Monaco Quad Watch Winder is an efficient and affordable watch winder with outstanding performance.

Heiden is a US-based manufacturer that has been producing quality watch winders since 2004.

Heiden Monaco Quad Watch Winder Heiden Monaco Quad Watch Winder
Mains Powered: Yes
Battery Powered: No
Dimensions (LxWxH): 26 x 13 x 10 inches
04/19/2024 11:48 pm GMT

Automatic Watch Winders FAQ

A watch winder is a device used to keep automatic or self-winding watches running when they are not being worn. Automatic watches have a movement that is powered by the motion of the wearer’s wrist, thanks to a rotor inside the watch that winds the mainspring. When an automatic watch is not worn for an extended period, it can stop running, and its timekeeping accuracy can be affected.

A watch winder keeps automatic watches running by gently rotating them in a controlled manner, mimicking the motion of a wrist. By customizing the rotation direction, and rest periods, you can ensure that your watch remains powered and accurate even when it’s not being worn regularly.

A watch winder serves the purpose of keeping automatic or self-winding watches running when they are not being worn.

A watch winder box is a specialized storage and maintenance device designed to hold and automatically wind one or more automatic watches when they are not being worn. It combines the functions of a watch winder with the features of a storage box or display case.

Not all automatic watches necessarily need a watch winder, as their requirement for one depends on several factors, including your watch-wearing habits and the specific features of your watch.

If you think I’ve missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.


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