There once was a time when a gentleman’s daily ritual involved the winding of his watch. Whether in the morning before leaving for work or in the evening after removing it for bed, it was a moment for connection and contemplation.
The rise of self-winding, or automatic, movements has all but consigned this custom to the past, as the action of our arm alone is enough to spin the rotor inside and charge the mainspring.
That’s fine, but what about when you start to build up a watch wardrobe or don’t want to wear your automatic every day? The average power reserve rarely stretches beyond 42 hours, meaning you need the patience to reset the time every time you switch watch. And what if you leave it for longer?
Well, leave a mechanical watch dormant for more than a few months and, like a car engine, the movement’s oils gravitate away and congeal. Start it up again and the unlubricated points of contact grind against each other, to disastrous effect. Which is where a watch winder comes in.
Why You Need A Watch Winder
“Even a person with one automatic watch ends the day with the mainspring with less tension than it should have,” explains the CEO of watch-winder manufacture Wolf, Simon Wolf. “This ‘exercising’ of the watch in a winder is ideal and mimics the normal activity of a person.”
The need for a winder becomes even greater if you have watches with complications, such as calendars and day/date functions.
“When the power reserve runs out any of the complications that your watch has will stop and, apart from being a difficult and time-consuming to have to reset the moon or day/date functions, the more complicated watches have to be handled extremely carefully. Trying to reset a complication and getting it wrong can mean damaging the watch and having to return it to the brand,” says Wolf.
The other major bonus to keeping your watches ticking away is that it will help save on the service bill, which, if you’re a multiple timepiece owner, could be considerable indeed.
So if you’re in the market for a winder, be it for your one pride and joy that you only wear on special occasions or for your burgeoning collection then read on.
(Related: 8 Of The Best Wardrobe Gadgets)
Watch Winders For A Single Watch
Time Tutelary Carbon Dome Automatic Single Watch Winder
The epitome of an understated winder, the carbon-effect finish used by Time Tutelary gives this piece of kit a utilitarian look that means it will sit unobtrusively on your desk or on your bedside table. Better yet, the Japanese motor that powers it is deliberately quiet, so its whirring won’t keep you awake at night or distract you from that all-important conference call.
As with most watch winders, this has four timer functions – two are short programmes with the watch rotating either clockwise or anticlockwise for six minutes then resting for 30. The other two offer longer winding periods from 80 minutes and three hours, alternating between rotation and rest. And the other major sell is that it won’t break the bank.
Available at Amazon, priced £54.99.
Barrington Single Winder In Green
After a watch winder that matches, or indeed clashes with, your décor? Buckinghamshire-based Barrington should be your first port of call. The firm’s single winders come in every shade from eye-watering yellow to this rather stylish racing green.
Rather than work on the timed method, this winder operates on a rotations system and can switch between 650, 750, 850, 1,000 or 1,950 per day depending on the weight of the watch and how long it’s been since its last outing. The machine contains a Mabuchi motor from Japan, which is known for its durability and low sound level, and it also pauses after a minute of rotation as well as resting for 12 hours in every 24, so there’s no risk of over-winding.
Available at Barrington, priced £125.
Wolf Windsor Single Watch Winder
If you’ve made your man cave into a mid-century paradise, it can be easy to ruin this aesthetic with a clunky watch winder. With Wolf’s Windsor model you won’t have to. Inspired by this particular period in design history, it looks a bit like a classic Robert’s radio and, in this on-trend burnt orange shade, will enhance your interior rather than jarring with it.
Thanks to the new cuff design, it can now accommodate bigger and heavier watches without disrupting the near-silent motor. However, we’d suggest you put your Hublot in something more futuristic and leave this for your Nomos instead.
Available at Wolf, priced £215.
Swisskubik By Lucerin Single Watch Winder
Customisation is rife in the watch world. Swatch recently launched its Design Your Own collection, and interchangeable straps are all the rage, so why wouldn’t you want to spec your own winder, too? Thanks to a partnership between Geneva-based Swisskubik and Swiss luxury leather goods manufacturer Lucerin, you can do just that.
There’s a choice of leathers, including ostrich and goat, in a variety of colours. You can pick the thread for the seams and even choose an engraved message (we’d opt for ‘Hands off my watches’). Unlike many other winders, this is powered by a Swiss motor from Portescap. Yes, it’s more expensive than a Tissot Powermatic 80, but that’s the price you pay for something totally original.
Available at Lucrin, priced £943.
Rapport London Optima Time Capsule Watch Winder
As purveyors of fine horological products, including clocks, leather watch cases and safes, you’d expect something more classic from Rapport, not this steampunk creation.
The London Optima Time Capsule watch winder looks like it’s been dug out from the back of the Tardis and revived by someone exhibiting at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889. You can see the heavy brass cogs that operate the winder, which is set on a bevelled glass base, while the bank-vault style hinged door to the watch carrier is fitted with a magnifying glass lens, so you can have a close look at your pride and joy.
Available at Rapport, priced £2,100.
Watch Winders For Multiple Watches
Excelvan Automatic Wood Watch Winder
The great thing about watch winders becoming more popular is that the less expensive end of the market is bucking its ideas up and delivering serviceable winders at great prices.
One such example is Excelvan. It ticks all the boxes – a super-quiet motor, range of settings, lots of space for larger watches, unobtrusive dark-wood effect casing – and all for less than a night out at the local.
Available at Amazon, priced £39.99.
Time Tutelary Dual 2 Automatic Vertical Tower
This vertical tower offers a more futuristic take on the traditional winder set-up. It’s made from lightweight plastic, while the portal-style windows are polycarbonate, causing it to looking more like a speaker than a winder meaning that when it’s not keeping your Omega Speedmaster ticking away, you’ll hardly notice it’s there.
The Japanese motor that powers its four settings is near-silent, so you won’t be disturbed even when it is on.
Available at Amazon, priced £45.24.
Dulwich Designs Goodwood Black Triple Watch Winder
Rather than going for Lucerin-levels of customisation, lifestyle and leather accessories brand Dulwich Designs opts for the colour pop route, letting its customers choose the particular hue of the watch pads for its Goodwood model.
There are 11 shades to choose from, but we think this lime green version complements the automotive-inspired design of the winder itself. It also claims to have a noise-suppression system that ensures class-leading quietness, three rotation settings and a minimum two-year guarantee.
Available at Dulwich Designs, priced £495.
Jqueen Six Watch Winder
Upping the number of winders doesn’t necessarily mean upping the price as well. This Jqueen model accommodates six timepieces in a traditionally elegant wooden box.
Despite being a rather substantial piece of kit, Jqueen still boasts a noise level of less than 10 decibels, which, according to the firm’s handy chart is the equivalent of a light breeze and it even has storage for seven other watches.
Available at Amazon, priced (non-sale) £299.99.
Buben & Zorweg Agartos
The last word in luxury watch winders, Germand brand Buben & Zorweg has been supplying innovative watch storage solutions for the past 20 years.
While this isn’t the luxury 100-watch safe that also doubles as a humidor, bar, weather station and music system, it is still a handsome way to wind your watches. Accommodating five timepieces in an interior lined with fine Italian nappa leather, it also features an automatic clock with a manual-wind eight-day precision movement powering it. You wouldn’t want to put your Patek Philippe anywhere else.
Available at Buben & Zorweg, price on request.