If you have a fine collection of automatic watches a worthy investment for you would be a high-quality watch winder. Adding greatly to the value and functionality of your watches, a fine watch winder is an essential part of every true watch lover’s collection.
But what exactly is a watch winder and why should you buy one? The answers to that and more can be found in this article and along the way, we will also give you some information on watch winder design and construction, and how they can affect your purchase decision. But first, on to the definition!
The watch winder
A watch winder is a mechanical device that is used primarily to keep automatic watches running when they are stored away. Now we said "primarily", because many of the best watch winders on the market serve a purpose other than merely keeping your watch or watches wound. We’ll get to that later but for now let's focus on the primarily function of the watch winder, which is to keep your watch running at all times even when it is not being worn.
At this point it may be helpful to go into some detail about how automatic watches work and why you would need a watch winder for them. Automatic watches generally keep themselves running while they are being worn even if you don’t wind them. Such watches also don’t have a battery, which is quite unique for watches that don’t have to be wound.
A note on automatic watches
How does an automatic watch keep running without having to be wound and without energy drawn from a battery? It does so through an ingenious system of weights inside the watch that swing or rotate while the watch is worn and the wearer is in motion. This tiny yet elaborate mechanism then keeps the winding mechanism running. What is basically happening is that the wearer’s movements keep the watch constantly running. As long as the watch is worn and the wearer keeps moving, the watch will never run down! This is quite possibly as close to a perpetual motion machine that you will ever get in real life. Ingenious, isn't it?
As inventive and innovative as this solution is, it is not without its weak points. What are they? Well the most basic one is that the watch really has to be constantly in motion in order to keep it from running down. Since your automatic watch doesn’t rely on battery power to keep it running, it will eventually lose its stored energy and simply stop.
Of course there is the option to wind your watch manually, which many automatic watches do allow. Unfortunately you are likely not going to remember to wind your watch while it is hidden away, and will probably think about winding it only when you do decide to wear it again, by which time it would have of course already stopped. And since you will probably take your watch while dressing for a special occasion–rushed and harried, we might add–the last thing you want to worry about is a watch that has run down!
So what can you do to save yourself from the dilemma of being late and possibly committing a social faux pax? Well, you can plan your schedule better for one thing, and for another, you can invest in a high-quality watch winder. With a watch winder on hand, you will no longer have to worry about reaching in to your drawer and pulling out a dead watch. Instead, you can simply make your selection from your lavishly appointed watch winder and choose which one of your prized watches you will want to wear for the evening.
Types of watch winders
Now, there is actually more than one type of watch winder sold nowadays. Each of the different designs will have benefits specific to certain types of automatic watches, so you would do well to be informed about the key differences before you go shopping for one. Here then are the three different categories of watch winders.
Functional watch winders
These watch winders basically do a great job at keeping your watches wound…and no more! This is the only purpose that they serve, although they of course excel at it. Watch winders of this type come in varying sizes, with single watch capacity to multiple watch capacity models commonly sold. Most watch winders in this category are in an upright position and hold the watch on the top of the unit. They are generally very sedate in their looks and serve as highly reliable and no-nonsense watch accessories. These models are typically run with AC power, although battery option is often provided.
Elegant watch winders
The watch winders in this category are a step up form the purely functional ones, in that they offer basically everything that those watch winders have and offer a much nicer and more lavish construction as well. These watch winders truly look like heirloom pieces, and many of them stay in families for generations. Most elegant watch winders are constructed out of fine wood and some may have a leather covering. Obviously these watch winders are meant for display as well as watch winding and storage, so the are often placed where they can be seen prominently. These models typically run on AC power or batteries.
Extravagant watch winders
Now these types of watch winders are at the top of the heap. Decidedly extravagant and constructed from the finest quality materials available, these devices provide everything you could possibly want in a watch winder and then some. Quality construction, top-notch parts, great looks, and stunningly innovative designs, these watch winders come with features that you would not find in watch winders in the other categories such as built-in heaters, storage drawers, and atomic-clock-driven time displays. Most of the models in this category are AC powered, although some do offer a battery option.
Now which one of these watch winders should you go for? Well, that depends entirely on your needs and your wants. Are you after a simple watch winder that does a good job of keeping your watches wound and nothing more? Or do you want a great looking piece that will add considerably to there beauty of your living space? Finally, how much are you willing to spend? All these and more are considerations that will have to go into your decision as to which type of watch winder to purchase.
If you do want to find out more about watch winders before making a decision, there are a number of other factors to think about, all of which will have bearing on the satisfaction that you derive from your watch winder. Below are some of the most important ones to keep in mind.
Features, functions, compatibility
Keep in mind that just as not all automatic watches are equal, so do watch winders also differ in feature sets, functions, and compatibility. Figure out what you want in a watch winder and make sure that the models you are considering have them. Storage capabilities, winding speeds, power options…all these and more will have to be considered in order to find the perfect watch winder for your specific needs.
You should also make sure that your watch winder can accommodate your particular brand of automatic watch or watches. Most watch winders on the market (although not all of them) are compatible with a wide range of different watches, and they will offer the winding speed and winding direction that your watch needs. Make sure you get this part right as an incompatible watch winder may not work at all with your watch or worse, cause some damage to it as well.
Your safest bet is to buy watch winder that offers clockwise, counterclockwise and bi-directional winding. This will cover you for virtually any type of automatic watch. Bi-directional winding is particularly important for automatic watch brands such as Rolex.
You may also want to look into a watch winder that has a "Turn and Rest" function. This will reduce the risk of overstressing, which can also cause damage to your watch’s main spring mechanism.
You may have noticed that wood is so often the material of choice for watch winders, especially those of the highest quality. There is a good reason for this, as aside from strength, wood makes a very visually appealing material. Many woods have quite attractive grains, and watch winder manufacturers take advantage of these by designing pieces that truly exhibit all the excellence of a finely crafted piece of wood furniture.
There are also many different types and grades of wood, each with varying characteristics, and you should be aware of them so you know which ones you should choose for your wooden watch winder. Some of the most desirable watch winders are made from premium grade oak, which is a remarkably hardy and attractive wood. Particularly valuable are the "aged" oak wood variety, in which the wood is subjected to a drying and aging process in the factory before it is crafted into a fine wooden watch winder. Such wood is amazingly resistant to warping and deformation, since all the moisture is drawn out. With moisture left in the wood, you run the risk of a watch winder that will warp or crack over time. This can also cause the misalignment of parts, essentially making your watch winder an expensive and useless paperweight.
Stay away from watch winders that are made out of particleboard. They aren't easy to distinguish from all wood watch winders if this is your first time to check out the market, but the low prices should clue you in with regard to their lesser value. The problem with this material is that the surface is quite prone to the effects of humidity, which can cause the surface to buckle over time. This will severely affect the durability of your watch winder, not to mention worsen its appearance.
Materials are one thing, and build quality is quite another. It really requires a perfect marriage of both in order to get a truly high-quality watch winder. And one of the most important aspects of quality construction is the coating. in general, you will want to look fort a watch winder that has been hand coated with Polyurethane, sometimes as much as 15 layers over. This will ensure the maximum level of protection for your prized watch winder. Along with the polishing that occurs in between coatings, you are assured of a high gloss watch winder surface that is amazingly resistant to scuffs and scratches.
Pay close attention to the how well the sections of the cabinet fit in with each other. Are the joints sealed tightly or are there any gaps or cracks? Such defects can detract significantly from the value of your watch winder and its condition will only get worse over time.
Now we come to the sordid subject of coin. There is no getting around it, but most watch winders are quite expensive…well, the good ones are at least. And the really good ones are really expensive. However, you do get a lot for the money if you buy the right product. Consider the fact that you have spent a lot of money on your watches. Would you really feel comfortable leaving them in the care of less than the very best watch winder you can afford? If anything, you would probably want to get a high-quality watch winder that will do justice to your investment. So this automatically leaves cheap watch winders out of the running.
The cheaper watch winders also look…well, cheap. Do a side-by-side comparison between the lowest priced watch winder on the market and a slightly higher priced brand and you will see a clear difference in the design and craftsmanship. While the higher priced models tend to have a subtle elegance about them that begs comparison with a high-quality heirloom piece, the cheaper watch winders will look almost like toys.
If the lack of looks alone weren’t enough to convince you, you might also be interested to know that the lower priced watch winders will utilize correspondingly lower quality parts than usual. This will allow them to keep a low overhead while still turning a profit on substandard watch winders. The problem is that these components can malfunction after time, possibly causing stress to the fragile mechanism of your automatic watches. With the risk of damaging your watch and the shoddy construction and less than stellar looks of low quality inexpensive watch winders, you will certainly agree that you are better off holding out for a high-quality watch winder.
One thinks that many people are wary about is the risk of over winding. The good news is that you don’t have to worry about that with today's crop of automatic watches, since they all have mechanisms that prevent simply disengages itself from the winding component once the watch is fully wound. Of course you do want to guard against stressing the winding mechanism as well, so it would probably be best to just keep your watch in motion for only a few minutes to an hour every day, instead of keeping it going all day and all night.
While watch winders generally don’t work with battery-operated quartz watches, they do work for quart watches that do not have a battery. Among some of the brands that carry watches of this variety are Omega, Seiko, and others. These watches are the middle ground between the common quartz watches and automatic watches, and they have a similar system of weights and rotors as do your automatic watches.
Another concern that many people face is whether to go with a single head watch winder or a dual or even multi head one. If you only have two automatic watches and you are pretty sure that you won't be investing in any more, then by all means go with the dual head model. If you feel that even more automatic watches are in your future however, you may want to consider getting a multi head model right after you’ve bought your second or third watch.
Do you really need a watch winder?
Now we come right down to it: do you really need to have a watch winder? This is a particularly important question since the really good watch winders are quite expensive. Let's take a look at the benefits:
Watch winders keep your watch running at all times.
This may seem like an insignificant benefit, but you will definitely take advantage of it over time. Imagine being able to reach in and using any watch you choose and having it wound up perfectly and ready to go, and you can see just how invaluable a watch winder can be.
Watch winders increase the lifespan of your watch.
You will have to take your automatic watch in for routine maintenance every three years or so. However, the best way to increase the life of your watch is simply to keep it running. This will allow the mechanism to lubricate itself and keep everything functioning as normal.
Watch winders actually save you money.
By keeping your watches wound and in perfect running condition, you will be able to save a lot of money off repairs. In this way you will be better able to protect your investment, and have more money to buy even more automatic watches!
Watch winders keep your watch safe and secure.
The best watch winders will have plush interiors that offer a great deal of protection for your watch. The watch is held securely in place with a sturdy band, preventing it from being knocked around and scratched by other objects. This way, you can ensure the quality finish of your watches’ surface.
So are all these reasons enough to convince you of the merits of watch winders? If they are, then it is time to consider all the many different options out there. The world of high-quality watch winders is a vast and ultimately rewarding one, so have fun in your quest to find your ideal watch winder!