The 10 Best Watch Winders
Lost Time Is Never Found Again
Automatic watches typically wind themselves by utilizing an internal weight that swings/rotates when the watch is in motion.
You know because you'll actually put your wrist right up against your ear just to hear the quiet clicking and ticking of the watch gears.
Let's pretend that you've just been given a beautiful automatic Rolex watch by a family member. Perhaps it was handed down to you as kind of a family heirloom. It looks great, feels great, and even sounds great. You know because you'll actually put your wrist right up against your ear just to hear the quiet clicking and ticking of the watch gears. But maybe you're a little afraid of having to tinker with such a valuable object, especially if you decide to take a few days off from wearing it. After all, you want that watch to continue to last through several more generations, but you don't like the idea of always having to fuss with it, particularly if it has additional functions that require constant winding for accuracy. If this situation describes you, then perhaps a watch winder is in your future.
A watch winder is a device built specifically for automatic (self-winding) watches to keep their gears running when that watch isn't actually in use. Automatic watches typically wind themselves by utilizing an internal weight that swings/rotates when the watch is in motion. When this internal weight swings, it turns the winding mechanism inside the watch. That said, the watch winder takes the place of natural hand and wrist movements that would otherwise wind the watch automatically when being worn. This makes the watch winder a truly useful tool when planning not to wear your timepiece for an extended period of time.
Watch winders can accommodate multiple timepieces at once and will operate by rotating your watches in a circular motion to simulate natural hand movements for activating the self-winding mechanisms.
But what if I overwind my automatic watch? What then? Overwinding of an automatic watch is not very likely, considering that your watch has a mechanism for disengaging the winding mechanism when its mainspring is fully wound. But you also don't want to overuse the winding mechanism (i.e. all day long) as the watch only needs around 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted rotations in the winder.
The style and aesthetics of a watch winder can be just as important as how well it functions. Winders can be very basic and functional in style, whereby the watch is simply held on the exterior of the unit and rotates on a simple tabletop. Since watches are often thought of as pieces of jewelry, some consider their winders to be more like furniture. That said, designs and construction in this case tend to be more elaborate (i.e. elegant woods, enclosed boxes, fancy watch cushions, even built-in heaters to keep your watches at room temperature).
Watch winders are also available as battery-powered or AC-powered units. The battery-powered units are particularly convenient for drawer and safe deposit box storage, especially if your watches are valuable.
A Personal Choice
Much like the watches you choose to wear and collect, how you choose to store/wind them is also very open to personal choice. There are several things to consider when investing in a watch winder, including the space you have available, the price, how large your automatic watch collection is, how much customization you want your winder to have, and what goes best with your room decor. Granted, these qualities are hardly exhaustive.
Winders come in many different shapes and sizes. Consider where you'd like place the winder in your home. Do you prefer to display it as a showpiece for guests when they drop by? If that's the case, then investing a bit more in a winder with enclosed compartments and elegant woods on its exterior might be a good route to take. This can include winders that have a glossy finish and really stand out. Also, some winders have built-in LED lights for display at night. Even if countertop space is limited, you can usually find winders that are still elegant but with a lower capacity to accommodate only 1 or 2 watches instead of 6-8.
Many winders also feature clockwise/counterclockwise movements with adjustable motor speeds, so if you have a lot of valuable watches, you may opt for a winder where you can slow down the rotation speed if you're worried about being too hard on the winding mechanism.
Brief History Of The Watch Winder
Watch winders originally had a limited commercial market, as they were primarily used by watch repair shops for short-term applications. Their first exposure to the commercial market appeared in Europe (i.e. London, France, Italy, Germany, and Austria) where most automatic watches were being manufactured. Towards the latter part of the 1990s, there was a high concentration of both engineers and scientists in Japan with a strong interest in automatic watches and winder production. A small Japanese company named Everwell became a part of this niche and started making watch winders for the Japanese market in the late 1990s.
In 1997 at the age of 60, Chuck Agnoff got fed up with having to constantly reset the time and date functions on his Rolex and founded the Orbita Watchwinders corporation in Wilmington, North Carolina where he began both building and selling watch winders in the United States.
Since that time and with the internet explosion at the end of the 20th century, watch winders have made their way into many online businesses (i.e. home shopping networks, storefronts, etc.) where they are still a thriving commodity for both the occasional and die-hard watch collector.