Watch winders are machines with a simple but vital task to perform for watch owners: ensuring that automatic (or self-winding) watches have sufficient energy for their clockwork drive by generating constant and steady motion. But that’s not all watch winders can do. The selection of models, sizes, designs and functions of available watch winders is as full of variety as the watch winders themselves. Watch winders can be differentiated based on their functions as well as their design (stand-up or built-in) and form of presentation (show window, box, cabinet).
For collectors and dealers of self-winding watches, it is important that all of their watches run all the time. Of course, a watch that has stopped can be rewound and the date corrected, but having to do that for more than two watches can be a very time-consuming task. A watch winder takes care of this potential annoyance. The watches are strapped into a special brace or a box. An electric motor (powered by a battery or adapter) ensures that the winder rotates constantly and with sufficient motion to keep the watch wound. This protects, in particular, delicate self-winding watches from being damaged through irregular use. The constant rotation also allows you to monitor the precision of the gears and ensure that models with a perpetual calendar are ready to use and set to the correct date even when they have not been worn for an extended period of time. Watch winders can differ significantly even in these basic functions. While simple or more affordable models are equipped with a single motor, high-end watch winders feature a separate motor for each watch. In the premier class, each motor also allows the rotational direction and the number of rotations to be set by the user, since not all self-winding watches are wound through bi-directional rotation. Stylish lighting of select watches, or all of the watches, is a quality feature found in many watch winders.
Another key role of the watch winder is to offer an appropriate and high-quality presentation of valuable pieces of jewelry. Watch winders made of quality materials, including fine woods, are particularly well suited for showcasing valuable watches. Dealers and manufacturers can embellish their products through such presentations, while watch lovers can use the right watch winder to highlight their collection and express their appreciation of their watches. Orbita, one of the leading makers of watch winders, even has a device (The Orbita Sempre, below) that is specifically designed for manual-winding watches. To learn how it works click here.
Other additional features assist owners, collectors, and sellers of self-winding watches in storing and maintaining their collections. For example, high-quality watch winders have individually configurable sleep functions. These functions put the watch winder to sleep, which simulates the daily rhythm of the watch wearer. The sleep function also helps save energy during the night and on weekends. The optional fast-wind feature also ensures that the timepieces in the watch winder receive a minimum level of energy. This function is practical and very worthwhile, especially after the winder has been out of use for an extended period of time (during transport, power outage). An automatic stop function can also be found in some watch winders that are designed to showcase watches. The electric motor automatically turns off when individual watch boxes are opened. This allows the watch to be easily removed so it can be worn, presented, or simply admired. Furthermore, watch winders with locks are an advantage for watch stores and antique dealers.
Some firms, such as Buben & Zorweg, make high-end, multiple-watch winders such as the Grand Collector Inbuilt (below), which can be integrated into spaces such as walk-in wardrobes and safe rooms. The case features a Buben & Zorweg clock at the top and offers individual winders for either 26 or 44 watches. To keep the watches safe, the top and bottom portions use code-operated electronic locks.
And if even a locked winder box doesn’t provide enough peace of mind to a collector, a few companies will even offer a customized, high-tech safe for storing those precious timepieces (along with jewelry and other valuables) as well as keeping them wound. One of these is California-based, family-owned-and-operated Brown Safe, which builds a luxury watch-and-jewelry safe called the Chronos (below), the first safe to be constructed entirely of near-impregnable military-grade ballistic armor. In addition to its multiple winding panels, the Chronos incorporates cutting-edge technologies — such as biometric fingerprint entry, GPS anti-theft systems, and a multi-sensor alarm with home-automation integration — to ensure an unmatched level of security.
This article was originally published in 2013 and has been updated.