If you have a large collection of automatic watches that you like to rotate through depending on what you want to wear, buying watch winders may be something that you have already thought about. 

The Power Reserve of An Automatic Movement Explained

As you may already know, an automatic mechanical watch requires motion to keep running. The natural motion of one’s wrist swings a rotor inside the watch movement, which then winds up the mainspring. The mainspring is where energy is stored, which is then transferred through the movement via a series of bridges, gears, and wheels, divided into consistent and regular pulses. These pulses then power the hands and other functions on the watch dial. 

When looking at the technical details of a watch, you will often see a “power reserve” specification. Power reserve refers to how much power a mainspring can store when the watch is not in motion before running out of juice. Therefore, if you are not wearing an automatic watch and are storing it in a stationary resting position, it will eventually run out of power. The time it takes to run out of power is dependent on a watch’s power reserve. 

Longer power reserves require bigger mainsprings or in some cases, more than one mainspring (double barrel or triple barrel watches). This then requires a bigger watch case to house them. Therefore, it is always a balance between offering a watch that isn’t too big with one that has a respectable power reserve. 

Luxury watches typically offer a power reserve of anywhere from 36 hours to an impressive 7-day one. 

What Is a Watch Winder? 

If you only wear one automatic watch, then the power reserve is not so much of an issue because the watch you wear all the time will continuously run. However, if you are constantly switching between different watches, there is the likelihood that some of your watches will run out of power before you put it back on again. 

If your watch is a simple time-only watch, then it is not such a big deal to adjust to the correct time before wearing it again. If however, your watch has plenty of different functions, it is more of a hassle to readjust all the functions to the correct time/day/date/month/moon phase prior to putting it back on your wrist. And this is where the watch winder can be a practical addition to your watch wardrobe. 

A watch winder serves to continuously rotate an automatic watch so that the movement’s rotor swings back and forth to keep the mainspring wound, thus the watch never runs out of power. Most modern watch winders feature an inner cushion where the watch is securely strapped to. Then the cushion fits into a motorized rotating canister.

Watch winders range from single watch holders to cases that can hold multiple watches at a time. On the higher end of the spectrum for serious collectors, there are also companies that craft custom watch winders cabinets. Watch winders can have different settings to change up the direction of how the winder rotates (clockwise and anticlockwise, for instance) and at what frequency. There are also some that include a sleep feature, where the rotating stops at night, mimicking a user’s sleep patterns. 

Do I Need a Watch Winder? 

Most watch enthusiasts will agree that no one really needs a watch winder, but they are certainly convenient to have if you have more than one automatic watch. This is particularly true if you have a collection of complicated watches, such as annual calendars or perpetual calendars. 

Some proponents of winders claim that aside from convenience, storing an automatic watch in a winder rather than sitting dormant in a watch box is actually better for the timepiece. The reasoning is that if the watch is left unpowered for too long, the oils inside the watch may dry up, thus causing unnecessary friction down the line when the watch finally does run again. However, others argue that modern-day lubricants don’t need constant movement to stay viable. There is no conclusive evidence that proves that keeping a watch in a winder is significantly better for the watch than having it resting still. 

Watch winders are relatively large in size, so make sure you have the appropriate space to accommodate them. Also, remember that most watch winders need to be plugged in for a power source (there are some that run on batteries). Before placing your self-winding watch on a watch winder, you’ll want to make sure the watch is already running for best results.

The range of watch winders runs the gamut from relatively affordable ones to highly expensive ones. If you are going to invest in watch winders for your collection of luxury watches, make sure you opt for good quality ones. After all, you are trusting them to store your cherished watches.