A watch winder is a device used to keep automatic watch running when not worn. Automatic watches operate on the principle of winding themselves using a moving weight inside the watch. The weight swings or rotates while the watch is worn and turns the winding mechanism inside the watch. So, fairly obviously, if the watch is not worn, then it no longer receives power this way and will run down. While virtually all automatic watches can be manually wound, this is not always convenient. So the concept of an automatic watch winder was born.

A winder cannot over wind an automatic watch, since all automatic watches have s special mainspring that will never come to the end of the spring. Most winders are on some sort of a timer, so they will operate for a few minutes, then “rest” for a bit, then start their motion again.  There is no need to keep the watch in motion 24 hours.

Winders are totally useless with battery-operated quartz watches, but they will work with Seiko Kinetic, and similar movements. These automatic/quartz hybrids use the same weight/rotor principal to generate electric power to run a quartz movement.


Do I need a watch winder?

If you own more than one automatic watch, then a winder might be a good idea for you.  One of the biggest benefits of a winder is it will keep your watch on time and ready to wear whenever you need it. It will also keep the day/date function working properly, so there will be no need to constantly reset your watch when you decide to wear it.

Can a Winder hurt my watch?

I really don’t think that keeping your watch on a winder can harm your watch.  Most watches are quite durable and were designed to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  So keeping it on a winder is no different than wearing it everyday. Since your watch on a winder is staying clean and dry, I can’t see any problem with using a winder for any good quality automatic watch.

There is no significant evidence that a good watch winder will either save or harm your watch.

How to choose a winder?

There are lots of winders on the market, from less that $100 to close to $1000. Some of them are more a “jewelry box” item, meaning they are made of the finest hardwoods and are made to be a display piece in your office or home.  These winders are quite elaborate and can be quite costly.  Some are simple and to the point, with inexpensive cases that will do the job, but may not last very long. You can also choose between a battery operated winder that you can use for travel, or a standard plug in model that is made for constant home use. The choice is up to you and your wallet!

Features on winders

Most winders have a few features that you need to pay attention to. You should buy a winder that will rotate in both the clockwise and counter clockwise direction.  Normally there is a setting that it will alternate from one to the other over the course of the day. I think that it is important to vary the direction of the movements oscillating weight so that the wear is equal in both directions. Some older automatic watches only wind in one direction, so it is important to buy a winder that will rotate both ways.

Another feature most have is the time between on and off cycles.  You should be able to vary the run time and rest time to keep different types of watches wound and running properly.

Who should buy a watch winder?

Quite a few of my customers ask me this question after I service their automatic watch.  If you have a small collection of watches and you like to “changes things up a bit” by wearing a different watch everyday, then you may want to make the investment in a winder.

If you are not very active on any given day, you may want to take your watch off at night and use a winder to make sure your watch stays on time If you are elderly, or have had any sudden change to your activity level,a winder can be a big help to keep your favorite automatic watch on time and always ready to wear.