Do You Need a Watch Winder?

Do You Need a Watch Winder?


Putting a watch on a winder is a polarizing topic in the watch world.  Some say that a winder will ruin your watch whereas others say that winders are the most useful thing since the watch itself was invented, and then of course you have every opinion in between.  To further complicate the matter, the information supporting both sides of the debate is often conflicting or unsubstantiated.  So we are still left with the question of do you need a watch winder?

In effort to find an answer to this quandary and to educate myself on the topic I have read articles from the watch illuminati, read rants in the forums, watched videos from various personalities on YouTube, spoken with Authorized Dealers and even prayed to the watch gods to provide me with a definitive answer.  But without failure the information and opinions were conflicting so I decided it would be best to speak with an expert on watch making, servicing and mechanics.   Fortunately, my friend Nick Harris, of Orion Watches and Watches By Nick, was willing to discuss the topic at length.

Nick spent two years studying watchmaking and horology at the Watch Technology Institute in Seattle, which is one of only three Rolex sponsored watchmaking schools in the United States and even follows the Rolex developed SAWTA training curriculum.  Since graduating in 2018 Nick has been growing his own brand, Orion, and professionally servicing watches.  I will cover Nick and the Orion story in a later article so as to not deviate from the scope of this article.

should you use a watch winderFor the full discussion on if you should use a watch winder for your watch(es) I highly recommend watching the video with Nick and I.  Our discussion is peppered with watch and watch winder related knowledge so if you have a keen interest in the subject you will appreciate the content.  If, however, you just want the key takeaways you can read below:

  • A watch winder is a luxury, not a necessity. A winder is particularly useful for watches that are more difficult or time consuming to set such as watches with a non quick-set date, a moonphase, a perpetual calendar or an annual calendar.
  • Keeping a watch on a winder is like ‘keeping your car in idle’, it will not damage the watch. Automatic watches are designed and built to run 24/7/365.  However, if a watch is damaged (or has not been serviced for a number of years and is in need of servicing) then keeping it running on a winder will only serve to further damage the watch.
  • Watch makers like Nick will use diagnostic winders from brands like Witschi and Elma but these winders are not intended for the enthusiast market. Watch enthusiasts like the rest of us should look to brands like Wolf, Swiss Kubik and a plethora of other brands.  I had a winder from Wolf (pictured above) that was very nice and currently have a winder from Boda Concept that is not quite as nice but it was substantially less expensive per watch port.
  • Not all watches are created equal. Different watches need to be rotated different directions and at different rates to keep running.  Know which way your watch rotor needs rotate to wind (clockwise, counter-clockwise or bi-directional) and make sure that the winder you purchase can wind that way and that it can wind at a speed to keep your watch running.

moonphase watch winder 2

What is your experience and opinion on watch winders?  Are they a senseless indulgence, a life changing necessity, or something in between?