It is a known fact that when we leave things idle for a long period of time, they tend to reduce their shine, capabilities, start having issues or even stop working altogether.

This applies for various possessions, like cars to name a common sector, but it also applies for automatic watches.

Also known as self-winding watches, these timepieces are made up of many fine moving parts, which could get damaged, stuck or even halt if not worn and utilised regularly. Thus, a watch winder is becoming increasingly popular especially among auto timepiece collectors, to save the basics like date and time, as well as other wristwatch functionalities. Consequently, a watch winder will assist in preserving your precious collection in its entirety.

Depending if you possess a timepiece collection of your own, or which type of watches you hold, a winder could help you protect your treasured assembly, therefore we suggest that you explore with us the fascinating and curious realm of watch winders.  

Watch Winders – Overview

John Harwood, a British, is regarded as the first watchmaker who created and introduced us to a self-winding wristwatch. Harwood moved to the Isle of Man to set up his own watch trade, and in 1923 he applied for a patent supported by a local businessman. The patent was granted in Switzerland around a year later in September, 1924.

Watch winders as we know them today became more popular in the 1950s. An American inventor named Warren Marrison designed an electrically powered watch winder which was patented in 1953. Basically, the motor mimicked the human wrist, moving the watch to keep it wounded.

Over the next decades watch winders continued to evolve, and in the 1970s winders with multiple winding stations were introduced, allowing collectors to keep their whole set wound in perfect condition at the same time.

In the 1980s, watch winders with programmable timers were created to allow owners to wound their watches at intervals or within a specific time range. These were later referred to as TPD or Times Per Day, meaning that the winder will allow intermittent rotation rather than a constant one.

The rise of luxury timepieces in the 1990s led to renowned brands creating their own watch winders, many of which were adorned with elegant designs, making them more enticing.

Modern watch winders vary from bi-directional movements, LED lights, to Bluetooth ones which allow control from smartphones. Nevertheless, minimalist designs are still in vogue.

What is a Watch Winder?

A watch winder is a device that keeps automatic watches running by mimicking wrist movement, ensuring they don’t stop or lose time when not worn. Ideal for watch enthusiasts.

How it Functions

Simply put, and as aforementioned, a watch winder will continually oscillate your automatic watch mimicking the human wrist, eliminating the possibility that it stops functioning due to inactivity.

There are a variety of winders, from those reliant on batteries which hold a range of roughly 6 to 12 months, to others with Lithium batteries under the hood with average lifespan of 5 years, concluding with the AC/DC winders which can be plugged directly to the grid.

Are Watch Winders Safe?

The short and quick answer would be yes, however although automatic watches can be damaged by being left unwounded, they can also be negatively affected if wounded continuously even on a watch winder, leading to wear and tear.

Ideally, one utilises a programmable watch winder to limit stress on the delicate watch machinery, keeping its lubricants and oils from settling. Although cases were watches had issues exist, however the majority of these were on watches that have been on winders for numerous years and hadn`t any power reserve left. Watch winders though shouldn`t be in use infinitely.

One common argument against watch winders is that modern automatic timepieces hold advanced technologies used in movements, which reduce the chances of lubricants to dry up as fast as past variations.

Is a Watch Winder Necessary?

If you own only one automatic watch with a basic date or calendar system, a watch winder will maybe be viewed as an overkill, as these are simple to set manually. Although on the other hand, no one is instructing you how to utilise your hard-earned cash, so the ultimate decision rests in your hands.

Really and truly, a watch winder is more recommended for timepieces holding more complex calendar displays. Moreover, it is highly suggested and is seen as beneficial that a watch is let to a complete stop, as keeping it constantly at full power is not good for the movement either.

An automatic watch usually has a winding system in the movement that has been created to run 8-10 hours during the day, then sit overnight.

Let`s take the Rolex as a popular example. Most of the versions, especially modern ones, do not need a winder, as they feature simple date and time which can be quickly set manually. More complex functions as found on Sky-Dweller or Day-Date will be easier to handle with a watch winder.

Alternatively, we also find brands that recommend the use of watch winders like in the case of A. Lange & Sohne, who cited a positive effect on lubrication, while eliminating the need to set the calendar.

In Conclusion

By now we trust that your inquisitiveness has been quenched, and you started to appreciate the charming world of watch winders more.

Many collectors keep a schedule or set a ritual of watch winding say weekly, to find their timepieces always at the ready. Keep in mind though that it all depends on the type of watch, as one with longer power reserves can be wound less frequently. As it is common with all automatic watches to get the mechanism moving, it is best to wind the watch at least 20 rotations before putting it back on the wrist or a winder.

As a watch connoisseur you will surely recommend winders to other aficionados, while if you are a proud automatic watch owner, or just recently discovered the captivating world of timepieces with a personal aim to create a collection, well, a winder should be seriously considered as your next custom.