Most watch enthusiasts have at some stage during their collecting career heard of, or even purchased an automatic watch winder.
What is a watch winder?
A watch winder is a device that winds your automatic watches while you are not wearing them.
It looks almost like a watch box, but it contains a rotating section where you insert your watch.
This section rotates slowly throughout the day keeping your watch wound. Some watch winders can only take 1 watch, but you get large ones that can take 4, 8 or even 12 watches.
Automatic watches wind themselves using a rotor on the movement.
While you are wearing your watch, your movements during the day will cause the rotor to move. This rotor movement gets used to wind the watch automatically.
If you have a large collection of watches, you might not wear each watch frequently enough to keep it fully wound. This is where watch winders can help. When you take your watch off, you simply pop it into the winder and when you are ready to wear it again (days or even weeks later) it will be fully wound and ready to go.
Watch winders are especially useful if you have very complicated watches like perpetual calendars.
These calendars can be very complex to set, and having the watch wind down is not ideal, because then you have to spend quite a while to reset all the calendar indications.
Watch winders sound awesome right?….not always!
There are a few things you have to look out for when buying a watch winder.
Your watch can get seriously damaged if you buy an inferior or badly manufactured winder.
All motors have magnets inside them. If you are using a cheaply made watch winder, the motor probably doesn’t have adequate shielding.
I’ve heard of a few cases where watches have become magnetized by a winder. This is not good for mechanical watches, because the watch will keep horrible time.
You will have to take the watch to a watchmaker in order to have it demagnetized.
When purchasing your watch winder, make sure that it doesn’t wind the watch 24/7.
It needs to have some kind of timer that winds the watch for a few minutes and then stops.
A watch should NEVER be wound continuously for long periods of time.
This will cause the winding mechanism inside the watch to get extra wear and tear and it can even cause the watch to break down and require a service.
Direction of Winding
There are 2 types of automatic watches.
Unidirectional: This means that the watch only winds in 1 direction. If the rotor spins in the other direction it doesn’t wind the watch at all.
Bidirectional: This means that the watch will wind in both directions.
If you have a unidirectional winding watch, it’s pointless if your watch winder only winds in the opposite direction. Your watch will never get wound.
When purchasing your watch winder, make sure that it can wind in both directions.
Many cheap winders do not have this option!
I think watch winders are necessary when you have very complicated watches which are difficult to set, but if you have simple time only or time + date watches then watch winders are not needed.
Please leave a comment if you know of anything else that we need to look out for when purchasing watch winders.