You might recall a scene from Marvel‘s 2016 movie, Doctor Strange, where the titular character pulls open a drawer full of exquisite watches on watch winders. Someone who isn’t knowledgeable in watches would not even know the value of Stephen Strange‘s collection which include a Jaeger LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual and Rolex Daytona amongst many others. So why does the scene still prompt an impressed expression from the average movie goer?
I personally think it’s because his watches are all in watch winders. The synchronised movement of the watches and neat arrangement enchanted the viewers, informing them that this collection of watches is probably worth an exorbitant amount.
As a watch enthusiast myself, I take very good care of my watches, making sure I store them well when they aren’t on my wrist. For this reason, I got a watch cabinet specially built for my collection. But it never occurred to me that that is probably not what the average person would do. So many a times have I seen people throwing their Casio watches into their desk drawer when they take them off. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Casio watches are cheap and therefore, storage of the watch should not be such a hassle.
But what happens when you buy your first Lange 1 from A. Lange & Sohne? You would probably think twice before you even set it down on your side table, considering the watch costs you about S$60,000. So then comes in the debate, watch winder or no watch winder?
How Do Watch Winders Work?
Before we begin to talk about the effects they have on our watches, let’s first talk about what watch winders are and how they work. As I’ve mentioned before in one of my previous articles, the way an automatic watch movement works is by utilising a rotor to convert kinetic movement, usually created by our arms whilst wearing the watch, into potential energy which would be stored in the watch mainspring. As such, if an automatic watch is not worn for some time, it will stop.
This is where watch winders come in. The hassle of winding watches date back to the conception of the watch itself. After all, without manual input, the watch would simply not run. The watch winder is the answer to this age-old predicament. A watch winder is a device that winds automatic watches, ensuring they are ready for use. This is achieved by slowly turning the watches, a task which will be continuously performed by the mechanism of the watch winder. These movements move the rotor in the watch, thus continuously powering the watch.
So why the debate? Isn’t this device simply a convenience to all automatic watch users? Well, let’s dive deeper into that.
The Bad News
Upon learning of the existence of a watch winder, one might assume it is a blessing. Winding a watch before using it every time can be quite disruptive and time consuming after all. So why not just keep the watch in constant motion, keeping it constantly in time? There’s one very simple reason. A watch can be over-wound. What this means basically is that a watch, like any other manual machine comprised of many different parts, is vulnerable to wear and tear. If the gears, pivots and springs are constantly winding, they will eventually wear out.
In the case of watch winders, those of lower quality would not rotate the watches at precisely timed intervals. In fact, some would just continuously spin. This can lead to the over-winding which I mentioned above, ultimately shortening the lifespan of your automatic timepiece.
You don’t have to be a world renown neurosurgeon like Stephen Strange to afford a watch winder, but it definitely would help. Watch winders, especially those of good quality can cost thousands of dollars. Many would argue that compared to the price of the watch itself, a fraction amount of that cost should be invested into a good storage device. Although a valid point, many watch enthusiasts struggle to even afford their dream watch, let alone a storage box which takes a huge chunk out of their salary.
A bigger concern when using watch winders deal with the magnetism from the motor. Keep in mind that a motor uses a magnetic field to rotate. Rotating a watch in a magnetic field from a poorly shielded motor may cause issues especially to the sensitive hair spring in the movement of the watch. Do take this into consideration if you decide to use a watch winder, opting for quality over everything else.
So What’s Good About Them?
Now that we’ve gone through the more negative aspects and effects of using a watch winder, let’s look at the brighter side. There has to be a reason people still use them, isn’t there? Well, the largest aspect which drives people to spend hard earned cash on these devices is because of the amount of convenience it offers the user.
If you have a collection of multiple watches, it’s a given that you would want to wear them all. However, you couldn’t possibly do that simultaneously. The watch winder therefore keeps all your watches you aren’t wearing ready for the wrist when you do decide to change. Particularly in the case of watches with complications like a perpetual calendar, resetting them can be tiresomely time consuming.
Watch winders are primarily a storage device. A key feature of a good winder would be it’s ability to protect the watches inside from moisture. Moisture is ultimately the arch nemesis of watches. With it’s many small moving and mostly metallic components, water acts as the destroyer of watches by the means of corrosion.
Despite some backlash watch winders might receive, no one can deny that they look cool as hell. Watch winders, especially those of more luxurious quality just screams beauty. From exteriors of high glossed polished wood to the LED lights within the interior, shining a spotlight on our beloved timepieces, winders bring an aesthetic sense to displaying our horological friends. It’s this sense of ornamental elegance which stayed in the minds of moviegoers who remembered the Doctor Strange scene (which I have probably mentioned one time too many).
I hope this article was able to shed some light for you on the topic of watch winders. Whether owning one or not is ultimately up to you and the lifestyle you live. If you do decide to get one, I urge you to do thorough research on its maker to ensure the quality of the device is good enough to keep your watches healthy. With that said, do remember to regularly maintain your watches as they definitely deserve the attention.
We are also hosting a giveaway of 2 Watch Winders!
Here are the steps to participate in the giveaway
- Like our giveaway post on our Instagram @thenomad360
- Follow us on our Instagram @thenomad360
- Comment why you should win the watch winder
- Finally, tag 3 other people!
We will then be announcing the winners on 29th May and we will contact you via Instagram Direct Message so be sure to stay active!