What is a Watch Winder And Do You Need One?

People buy automatic watches because they appreciate the workmanship that went into it.  Automatic watches really are a thing of beauty and men and women that wear them love the feel of them on their wrist, the way the watch looks and way it works. 

People who chose to own an automatic watch often don’t stop at just owning one.  Over time, one gradually becomes a collection.

An automatic watch, known as a self-winding watch, works by a rotary.  This is a metal weight, which is made to spin through movement.  This spinning transfers energy to the mainspring automatically

In other words, as you wear the watch the movement of your watch on your wrist, energises the rotar which keeps the mainspring wound. 

Similarly, if you take the watch off and lay it down it will gradually run out of energy and stop running.  This often happens within a day or two.

If you pick up an automatic watch which isn’t working and gently shake it back and forth, you’ll notice it will start moving again.  

Therefore, if you haven’t worn your automatic watch for a while and go to wear it, you will more often than not need to reset the watch to the correct time before wearing it.   

Enter the watch winder….

What is a Watch Winder?
Watch Winder

What is a Watch Winder?

A watch winder is a motorised box with a cuff inside on which a watch can be fastened.  It rotates to move the watch for you when you’re not wearing it, therefore keeping it running.

In other words, a watch winder imitates your watch being worn on your wrist.

It ensures: 

  • Your watch will keep working and not wind down
  • It will be the correct time when you next go to wear it
  • It will look great even when it’s not on your wrist! (An automatic watch turning in a Watch Winder seriously looks fabulous!)

You can get single watch winders or, for those with a collection of watches, multi-watch winders

Do You Need A Watch Winder? 

In a word, no. 

Automatic watches do not need to keep running.  They are designed to be the way they are – wound up, and to wind down.  It won’t damage an automatic watch for it to lay dormant for a short-term or even for longer periods (more on this later).

There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that a Watch Winder will either benefit or harm the movement in your watch.

The Case For Having A Watch Winder

“It’s a hassle to keep resetting my watch

each time I wear it”.

This will obviously depend on the person.  Those who really love the intricacies of their automatic watch will probably love setting it – the feel of the weight of the watch in their hand, how it feels, how it moves. It’s a strange but very beautiful thing, only appreciated by some. 

It probably takes less than a minute to reset your watch.  So it’s not a big deal. Having said that, if you have three or four (or more!) watches which you love to alternate wearing, it may become a hassle to have to reset your watch every morning.  

Setting the day and date takes longer, we grant you, and if you have a watch with a perpetual calendar that will take some time to reset, then there is definitely a good case for a watch winder.

If your automatic watch isn’t keeping good time, you may find putting it in a Watch Winder between wearing it will help it keep accurate, by preventing it running down and having to become fully wound again.

“Will my watch dry out if it isn’t kept

moving?”

Some people argue that having a watch winder will maintain the movement, keeping it well lubricated and that if it left not running for any period may cause it to dry out and lead to problems.  

To be honest, this is not the case.  Unless it’s a really old watch, automatic movements and, more to the point, the lubricants used, are good enough these days not to dry out if the movement isn’t moving.  

By far the biggest cause of these types of problems to your watch is not having it serviced regularly, extremes of temperature or age.

Problems with your watch won’t happen from not wearing it for periods of time unless it’s very old and already lacking in regular servicing.

There is also a good argument that says taking an automatic watch that hasn’t been regularly serviced and putting it in a watch winder, may actually lead to problems.

“It’s beautiful to see it moving and

working, even when I’m not wearing it”.

We can understand this and seeing a watch in a Watch Winder really is mesmerising!  

“It’s the perfect present for someone with

an automatic watch”.

Absolutely!  Stretching to a new watch for a present may be a step too far, but it could be a most thoughtful and perfect gift for someone who loves their automatic watch. 

How Does A Watch Winder Work?

A watch winder holds your watch securely in place inside a motorised box and spins intermittently thereby imitating the watch being worn on a wrist. 

It’s very important that the winder moves intermittently, after all you don’t constantly move your wrist.  This prevents the watch being overwound (although, to be honest, most modern watches don’t get overwound).  

Because of this, good watch winders are designed to run for a minute and then rest, then run for a minute and so on. 

Cheaper watch winders may not have an intermittent function so do check. 

What to Look For In The Best Watch

Winders

Check that any watch winder will securely fasten your watch to the inner cuff or pillow.  Most watches will fit most watch winders but very large watches or smaller ladies may need checking if they will fit the cuff provided.

Do you want a mains or battery-operated watch winder?  If the watch is kept in a safe a battery-powered watch winder could be a perfect choice.  Some battery-operated watch winders can run on two AA batteries.  The better quality watch winders will run for some time on batteries.

It is programmable and has modules for TPD, Direction and Sleep modes? (More on this later).

Does it rotate intermittently (as mentioned previously)?  

It is quiet (particularly if it’s kept in a bedroom!)?  There are very quiet models (some watch winders are almost silent) and, if you have acute hearing, you may find setting the sleep mode to night-time, when you sleep, ensures you aren’t woken. 

That it has a magnetic shield.  Some cheaper watch winders can magnetise your watch which could lead it to slow.  A magnetic shield, which a good watch winder will have, prevents this.

Let’s talk about TPD

TPD, or Turns Per Day, is a guide to how many times the watch needs turning to ensure it goes from zero to 100% wound. 

Each watch will have a specified guide TPD – check the manufacturer’s manual or check this fantastic and very comprehensive Watch Winding Guide herewhere you can search for your particular watch with its recommended TPD and rotation direction needed (see below).

Once you know the perfect TPD for your watch the winder can be set. 

The watch winder will then work out how long the interval phase should be throughout the day.  For example, less Turns Per Day (TPD) will mean a longer rest interval between each spin cycles – hence the intermittent rotation.

Direction

Some watches need turning in a particular way – clockwise, anti-clockwise or both.  Again, check with the manufacturer’s guidelines (or this guide) as to what your particular watch needs.  Ensure your watch winder can do this (most good winders can cover all three directions).

1. Fasten your watch to the cuff

After removing the cuff from the watch winder box, you fasten your watch securely to the cuff. If you have a very heavy watch there are watch winders that can accommodate larger and heavier watches so that they remain secure and won’t be damaged when the movement starts.

2. Set the TPD and Direction

According to the manufacturer’s instructions (see above) the winder can be programmed to ensure the correct Turns Per Day and Direction of rotation is achieved for your particular model of watch. 

3. Start The Machine

Start the Watch Winder machine and forget about it – after you’ve watched it for a while, of course! 🙂

My Watch Winder Keeps Stopping!

The best watch winders are designed to keep stopping, or rather, to rotate intermittently.  Just like when it is worn on your wrist. This stops the movement being overwound. 

The Best Watch Winders

Wolf and also Barrington create watch winders that are regarded as some of the best on the market.  

There are cheaper models available (the best of which we’ve also included in our ‘Best Buys’ below), but prices from both Wolf and Barrington won’t break the bank, particularly for a single watch winder. 

Considering that everything has been thought of with the watch winders from these two brands they both offer superb value for money.

SINGLE WATCH WINDERS

WOLF

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Wolf, a British company, have been making top-class Watch Winders since 1884.  

They have a patented design on the rotation programme which stimulates human wrist action.

Features include:

  • Programmable with pause and sleep modes
  • Programmes include a delay start (6-72 hours)
  • Multi-Direction rotation -clockwise, counter-clockwise and bi-directional.
  • Provides only one 900 TPD setting (unlike the Barrington below which offers four TPD settings), although this can be suitable for many automatic watches including Rolex watches
  • A beautiful hand-made design with a wooden frame covered with vegan leather, chrome hardware and a faceplate in grey.
  • Tempered glass on the front keeps your watch dust-free and chrome closure blocks out what little sound it makes.
  • Lock-in watch cuffs suits heavier watches (for those watches with smaller straps an alternative is available).
  • Extremely quiet watch winder.
  • Mains operated, with a universal 3.3V adapter included.  It  can also run on a lithium battery (this is not included but inexpensive)
  • Two-year warranty against manufacturing faults
  • Compact units – the Single Watch Winder will easily sit on a bedside table (W:15.2cm x L: 13.3cm x H: 14.6cm).

Barrington

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Barrington watch winders, also from the UK, are also top-class winders. They tick all the boxes and do what they need to do.

This Single Watch Winder (pictured above) features:

  • Compact yet top quality
  • Variety of 7 Colours and 6 Real Wood Finishes
  • Battery or Mains Operated
  • Super Quiet – many users state that it’s almost silent
  • Stackable with other Barrington winders
  • “Jump” Feature 
  • Work with all brands including Rolex, Tag Heur and Breitling
  • Multiple Rotation settings – clockwise, counterclockwise, or both
  • Multiple TPD Settings
  • Suits any weight of watch
  • Scratch-resistant cushions
  • 12-month quality promise

Barrington has single watch winders like this one, in a variety of colours

Super-quiet, they are ideal to be kept in a bedroom and are powered by a Japanese movement.

The Winders are mains operated or can run on two-AA batteries (one user was on week 6 of using the batteries whilst setting the winder to the second-highest setting).

These Single Watch Winders are  stackable, so can easily be added to over time as your watch collection grows, with the ability of each one being connected together via a connecting cable – what Barrington call a “Jump” feature. 

As well as multi-direction settings, there are also multiple TPD settings including – 650 TPD, 750 TPD, 850 TPD, 1,000 TPD and 1,950 TPD, all controlled by a central microchip. This is where it has the edge over the Wolf design.

Sepano

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Sepano watch winders are more economical than the Wolf or Barrington single watch winders but still have a lot of features and have good reviews.

  • 100% Wood Shell Box with piano varnish, 
  • Soft PU pillow can hold different sized watches
  • Quiet Japanese Mabuchi motor 
  • Anti-magnetic
  • Glass cover to keep dust out
  • Mains powered (100-240v AD Adapter) or battery operated (not included)
  • Watch must be wound before fastening in unit

Chiyoda Single Watch Winder

The Chiyoda Single Watch Winder

  • Handmade 100% solid wooden box with acrylic glass window
  • Piano vanish to high-gloss ebony
  • 80 mm diameter pillow
  • Japanese motor which is very quiet
  • Four TPD settings – 650; 950; 1,250; and 1,850
  • Three rotating directions possible (clockwise, counter-clockwise and bi-direction)
  • DC power supply but batteries can be used (not supplied)
  • Watch must be wound before placing in the unit
  • NOT suitable for Seiko Kinetic watches

Single Watch Winders At A Glance

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Wolf

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Barrington

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Sepano

DOUBLE WATCH WINDERS

WOLF

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The Wolf Heritage Double Watch Winder for Two Watches

  • All the specifications of the Wolf single Watch Winder
  • The cuffs can accommodate two different sized watches – ladies to larger mens watches.
  • Provides 900 TPD
  • Programmes include a delay start (10 seconds to 12 hours), and
  • Three directions – clockwise, counter-clockwise and bi-directional.
  • Motor is shielded against magnetic emissions (won’t magnetise your watch).
  • W:19cm x L: 26cm x H: 16cm

Barrington

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The ultimate watch winder! 

  • With a Digital Touch-Screen Display
  • Digital Clock
  • Remote Control
  • LED Down Lighters
  • Drawer for storage of 2 watches
  • This unit will wind your watches from stopped
  • Carbon-Fibre Styling
  • Silent Motor (Japanese) 
  • Five TPD (Turns Per Day) settings (650, 750, 850, 1,000, or 1,950 Turns per day).
  • Each rotor can be programmed individually (for example, 850 TPD on one and 1,000 TPD on the other)
  • Intermittent Multi-Rotation Options (clockwise, counter-clockwise and bi-direction) so no chance of overwinding
  • Suits any weight of watch up to a very chunky 48 mm
  • British Design

Chiyoda Double Watch Winder

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  • Each rotar can be programmed independently
  • Illuminaed touch display
  • Mains power (110-240V AC)
  • Will take watches up to up to 48 mm 
  • 900 TPD (Turns Per Day)

Sepano Double Watch Winder

Sepano offers good value-for money in their Watch Winder for the price. These include:

  • High-quality box made of PU leather 
  • Glass window
  • Quiet Motor
  • Anit-Magnetic Unit
  • Mains Operated or battery (not included)
  • Watch needs to be wound before placing in the unit

Three-Watch Winders

WOLF

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  • High-Quality Watch Winder 
  • Patented design on the Rotation programme which imitates human wrist action
  • Pause and Sleep Modes
  • Delay start (10 seconds or 12 hours)
  • Three Direction Settings – clockwise; counterclockwise and bi-directional
  • 900 TPD (Turns Per Day)
  • Vegan leather-covered sturdy box
  • Chrome hardware
  • Tempered Glass Front
  • Extremely quiet
  • Mains or battery operated (batteries not included)
  • Two-Year Assurance
  • Large Cuffs – suits larger watches (smaller cuffs available)
  • Cuffs lock in place for added safety
  • Will never magnetise your watches
  • W:19.7 cm x L: 45cm x H: 22cm
  • Weight: 5.2 kg

Four-Watch Winders

Barrington

  • Top-Quality Luxury Watch Winder
  • Four cuffs with individually programmable rotars
  • Remote Controlled
  • LED Downlights – it looks fantastic
  • Five TPD Settings (Turns Per Day)
  • Multi-Directional Settings (Clockwise; Counterclockwise and bi-directional)
  • Beautiful Carbon-Fibre Styling
  • Trusted company with excellent customer service
  • Digital Display
  • Can wind your watches from stopped

Chiyoda Four-Watch Winder

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  • A good quality, economical purchase
  • Four rotars – each can be set independently
  • Multi-directional – clockwise, counter-clockwise and bi-directional
  • Acrylic-glass door
  • LCD Display
  • Four TPD Settings (650; 990; 1350; 2000)
  • 18 months Warranty

HBSelect Automatic Watch Winder Box For Four Watches

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The HBSelect has a well-priced four-watch winder which ticks many boxes.

  • Has an extra six storage spaces for six other watches
  • Adjustable pillows to hold  ladies’ or men’s watches
  • High-gloss painted wooden box with suede pillows
  • Rotates for 2 minutes with a pause for 6 minutes in a clockwise direction, then rotates in opposite direction for 2 minutes with a 6-minute pause
  • 32cm wide; 24 cm deep 17.5 cm high

Whilst not necessary a Watch Winder can be a beautiful thing for someone who loves to see their automatic watch going. 

They may fantastic gifts for that difficult-to-buy for person in your life.

We hope you’ve gleaned some useful information from our guide. If you have any comments or questions, do please post them in the Comments box below.

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