There are generally three reasons why collectors use watch winders:
|Juvo watch winder: Both practical and art.|
You have three to four automatic watches that you rotate on a daily basis, and which you want to keep wound and ready to go. (As in the President of the United States might want to meet with you for your advice and counsel on the spur of the moment, so you need to keep your watches running with the correct time all the time.)
You have a watch with a complication that’s a pain in the neck to set on a regular basis, such as a perpetual calendar, annual calendar, or weird moonphase. It’s just easier to keep those hard-to-set watches on the correct time with a winder.
One reason not to use a winder is to keep your watch synchronized to the correct time. Most mechanical watches will likely lose considerable time over weeks (unless it’s a Seiko Spring Drive url tk), regardless of whether they’re in a winder. It just doesn’t make much sense to keep your watches ticking in their winders for the sole purpose of keeping time. A watch winder won’t keep your automatic watches set correctly; you’ll do a better job by hand.
Keeping watches in winders also increases the risk of damaging your watches or grinding down your watches’ innermost parts [link to previous article], and may send you to your watchmaker sooner than you expected. A watch that’s always running is constantly wearing out gears and other parts.
But a watch that sits dormant all day and night, like somebody binge-watching Netflix, isn’t healthy for the watch, either. You should wake your mechanical watches every six to eight weeks to keep the lubricants in optimal shape and coating the parts. Keep the lubricants lubricating. If you own fewer than ten watches, that’s a manually manageable task. But if you have more than ten watches (you don’t? why don’t you?), it’s watch winders to the rescue.
If you decide to go down the winder route, a modular watch-winder like Boxy Fancy Brick is a good starting place. You can begin your watch winder collection with two to four winders, adding more over time as you need them. With a modular winding system, you can replace broken winders without having to throw the entire machine out. Winders, like watches, are mechanical creatures that eventually break.
Wolf winders also get stellar reviews. Wolf watch winders have an app you can use to set and control your winder’s speed and direction. A Better Wrist’s publisher, Bill Adler, uses a Juvo winder, another quality machine that excels in the looks department. When selecting a winder, look for one that lets you set speed and direction because you want your winder to sync with your watches, not the other way around.
You can even buy a travel watch winder though I’m not sure what the point of that is, because most of the time while you’re traveling you’re moving and your automatic watch is winding. But never mind, a travel watch winder is a lot less expensive than a Dottling $11,000 travel watch safe. (Dottling also makes watch winders worth looking at.)
When your winder isn’t running it’s a static watch display case, a perfectly fine use for a watch winder.
Think of a watch winder as a tool to keep your automatic watches in shape by making sure they’re used on a regular basis, rather than a device to keep your watches displaying the correct time. Winders are a benefit to your watches, not a convenience for you.
As for your non-automatic watches: Wind those now and then, too, even if you’re not wearing those watches.
Watch winders in moderation are okay. But no, no, no, a thousand times no for keeping a watch in a winder all day and night, every day and night. Use a winder for watches that might otherwise not get worn for a while, and make judicious use of the on/off switch.
If used properly, watch winders are a great tool for keeping your watches in shape.