Josh and Mark

Should I Have a Watch Winder?

March 22, 2019

Let’s take a moment to pour one out for Nicolas Hayek (1928-2010), who for good or ill is pretty much solely responsible for the luxury watch industry as it currently exists. Being the major force behind Swatch Group left him in a strange position – when your company owns like half the luxury watch brands on the planet, which watch are you supposed to wear?


Mr. Hayek solved the problem in his own special way: he wore all the watches. In every picture I’ve ever seen he’s sporting at least four and typically more under the cuffs. But unless you’re a Titan of Contemporary Horology, this looks asinine and the question remains – what to do?
Enter the watch winder, a critical accessory for maintaining your burgeoning collection in ready-to-wear condition. By imitating the motions of a human wearer, the watch winder will maintain your timepieces in a state of full wind, with all time and calendar functions accurate, and then your watches can take turns on your wrist. But this is far from a winder’s only utility. Should you have a watch winder? JB Hudson can answer with a resounding Maybe?

You Have Too Many Watches
Obviously this is impossible, but perhaps you have too many to wear. The true aficionado finds him or herself rotating through the collection as style and caprice demand, but it’s irritating to begin the day with the selected watch and have the time and date to be incorrect.
By maintaining your surplus watches on a winder, you can be assured that they will be running and accurate whenever called upon. Pick and choose, change at lunch or before a dinner date – your watches are always ready.
Exceptions abound. A mechanical watch winder has no influence over a quartz watch, unless that watch contains a capacitor that is charged by mechanical means. Manually wound mechanical pieces are inert unless handled directly by the wearer.

Your Watch is So Complicated
Perhaps you’re not the kind to accumulate an overwhelming collection. Instead you’ve sunk attention and capital into a single, shining jewel of daunting complication. But synchronizing the time, sidereal time, equation of time, leap year, transit of Venus, and whatever else is obviously not something you want to screw with on your way to brunch with your spouse’s already-too-hazardous parents.
Better by far to never let it run down or stop in the first place, and so become discordant with the orbital periods of Amalthea and Iapetus. On occasions when you don’t wear it, a watch winder will preserve your timepiece’s happy alliance with the stars and spare you from the frustration (and risk!) of attempting to set it yourself.

Your Watch Doesn’t Get Enough Exercise
The contemporary automatic winding watch is marvel of metallurgy, engineering, and tribology. Even so, it pays to bear in mind that the word is “auto-matic” and not “auto-magic.” Laboring at the bench as I do, it is rare that I make enough severe movements to fully power my watch – it usually craps-out before the end of the day! Perhaps as a Captain of Industry, Prize-Winning Novelist, or Doctor of Philosophy you face a similar predicament.
By employing a winder at night, it becomes possible to enjoy your watch’s functional accuracy through all of your waking hours, no matter your trade. With no additional labor on your part, the watch begins the day with a full tank.

Watch Winder Do’s and Dont’s
While this accessory can address many ills, it is not a panacea. The winder maintains a watch in a high state of wind, with its mainspring under heightened stress. This can be especially true if your winder is not calibrated correctly to your particularly timepiece. In addition, the decoupling surfaces of the barrel (which contains the mainspring) can suffer accelerated wear if a watch is left on a winder and never removed. Would you park your new Bugatti in the garage and leave the motor running for eight or nine hours? Of course not!
Your automatic watch is a small miracle, but it is intended for functional subordination to the vagaries of human movement. It’s intended for you. A watch winder can be a convenient expedient for insuring accuracy, but if you mean not to wear it for weeks (or months or years, perish the thought), it’s better to leave your watch dormant. No harm will come to it, and when the time is right you can wake it up again.

And at the end of the day, should you have any qualms about winders OR watches that you are not comfortable addressing yourself: the Service Department at JB Hudson is here to help.