Do You Need A Watch Winder?

By Nic King •  Updated: 06/13/22 •  8 min read

Collecting watches is a pretty expensive hobby. Depending on the brands you enjoy, the starting price for your next watch could easily be 5 figures, and 6 figures have become common places on many pieces. With that being said, it is a top priority to take great care of these timepieces. That’s where your questions about watch winders come in. Do you need a watch winder? Are watch winders just a waste of money, and even do watch winders ruin watches? Let’s find out!

What We’ll Cover

What are watch winders?

Watch winders are a type of storage box for your watches. The difference between winders and a traditional watch box though is that watch winders will rotate your watch as it is being stored. This allows automatic watches to keep running even when they aren’t being worn by rotating the balance wheel.

Normally, this would be done as you wore the watch throughout the day. However, once you pass two to three watches in your collection, it because nearly impossible to keep all your watches running by just wearing them. A watch winder solves this by keeping your watches ticking even when it hasn’t been worn in a few days.

What are watch winders?

Do you need a watch winder?

In short, probably not. In actuality, the answer is a bit more nuanced than that. This is because watch winders are more for convenience than utility. Some watches, such as perpetual calendars, can be so hard to set that the convenience of having them on a watch winder far outweighs any of the downsides.

The same could be said about watches without a quick-set date function. These are mostly vintage watches made before the 1970s. However, some watch brands still don’t include quick-set date functions in their modern watches for various reasons.

In both of the above cases, it can make sense to use a watch winder for the sake of convenience.

Can a watch winder damage your watch?

One point of contention in the watch community is whether, outside of convenience, it is a good idea to use a watch winder. Do watch winders ruin watches?

The reason for this is that automatic watches have hundreds of tiny little moving parts in them. These parts need oil and lubricants to keep them moving freely and smoothly.

These same lubricants though will dry out over time due to age, storage temperature, and other factors. This is why watches need to be serviced every 4 to 6 years depending on the brand.

How does this relate to watch winders? Well, a watch that is well lubricated will have no problem running all the time. It will keep gliding along with no issues. However, as a watch nears its service period and the oils inside it dry out, the chances of increased friction breaking something in the watch do go up.

That means that while a watch winder won’t break your watch, storing a watch that needs to be serviced in a watch winder can damage your watch.

Should you use a watch box instead of a watch winder?

Are watch winders a waste of money?

This question is completely up to you. The primary reason to purchase a watch winder is for convenience. If you want your watches to always be perfectly set when you put them on in the morning, a watch winder is a must-have item.

What about those of you who don’t mind setting your watches? Well, for you a watch winder matters a lot less, and honestly, I would recommend against purchasing one. This is because if you aren’t right on time or even early with servicing your watches, a winder can do more harm than good.

Additionally, there is some argument that keeping your watches running all the time can cause their lubricants to dry out faster. This means you may need to service your watch sooner than expected leaving more room for damage.

So overall, I wouldn’t suggest purchasing a watch winder unless your watch has complications that are difficult to set or you simply like the look. They are your watches after all. You can store them however you like.

How long does a watch winder last?

Watches that are kept in a watch winder can, in theory, run forever. We do know though that eventually, their oils will dry out and they will stop working.

As for how long you expected a watch winder to keep running, this is also in theory forever. However, watch winders are machines just like the watches themselves. This means that they can wear out over time.

Just like your watches, a lot of watch winders recommend service every 5 years. This means that when you take your watches to get serviced, it’s probably a good idea to get your winder serviced as well.

Some collectors also just choose to replace their watch winder every couple of years. If you are going with a low-end watch winder, this is probably what you should expect. Higher-end watch winders will be able to go longer without replacement or service. It is best though to check with the manufacturer when purchasing a watch winder to confirm its service interval and warranty.

Things To Consider When Purchasing A Watch Winder

Things To Consider When Purchasing A Watch Winder

When looking at purchasing a watch winder, it can become very easy to be overwhelmed by the number of different options and features each one has. That is why we wanted to give you a few key variables to look at when buying a watch winder.

Build Quality

In a similar vein to watches, winders all come made out of different materials. From wood to plastic to carbon fiber, there are tons of different options. Not to mention that some watch winders are hand-made whereas others are mass-produced. Additionally, it is not uncommon for the motor of low-end watch winders to fail leaving them useless. Thus, it is important to look at the build quality of a winder before buying it.

The Look of The Winder

We mentioned materials above, but it is also worth mentioning looks separately as this will mostly be on display somewhere in your home. That means you want it to look nice and fit with your furniture and the aesthetic of the room the winder will live in. Also, note if there is a display window and how your watches will look on the background material.

Pillows & Holders

Speaking of the background of the watches, your watch winder will have some sort of pillow, cushion, or holder for your watch. It’s important to measure these holders as they can stretch out bracelets if you are not careful. Keep in mind that your watches will be in this holder for days on end. The bracelet will stretch if it is too tight on the pillow.

Orientation of The Watch in the Winder

The perfect layout of a watch winder places the watch in an upright vertical position. This will allow each rotation the winder does to have the most effect on winding the watch. Also, it allows the winder to last longer as gravity is doing at least half of the movement.

Programable Settings

No automatic watch needs to be moving all the time. Most watches just need a few hundred turns each day to be fully wound. Not to mention that you really shouldn’t fully wind your watches at all if you can help. This is where the programable settings on your watch winder will come in.

Make sure your watch winder allows for counterclockwise, clockwise, and bidirectional movement. Some watches only wind when moved one way, so this is important to keep that in mind. Good winders can also be programmed to have a maximum amount of daily turns. Every watch is different, but a 500 to 2,000 turns per day range will get you covered for all automatic watches.

Power Supply

No matter what, a watch winder should have the ability to be powered by a wall outlet. This ensures that it will never die. A secondary thing to look at is whether you want a battery-powered option or not. It isn’t common for closets to have wall outlets in them. This is where battery-powered winders are helpful. Just make sure you check your winder daily to see if it needs a new battery. Otherwise, your watch may stop running if the winder stops.

Noise Level

Watch winders have electric motors in them that move the watch to wind it. This means that these motors will give off noise. The amount of reviews online of noisy winders keeping people up at night is insane. For this reason, make sure that you are considering noise when purchasing your watch winder. The more expensive a winder is the quieter it usually is.

Service Intervals

It is important to know what your watch winders recommend service intervals are. Every winder is different, and some will have ‘lifetime’ guarantees. In these cases, make sure the company is reputable as all winders have moving parts that can wear out over time and will need to be replaced or serviced.

Nic King

My watch journey started when my dad gave me a quartz watch customized with the company he worked for on the face. From there, it evolved into other quartz watches and eventually to the world of mechanical watches. My first luxury watch was a 1960s vintage Omega, and the collection has only expanded from there.

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