Wednesday, August 8, 2012

To wind yourself or get a winder?

You stand at the window and gaze upon the vista before you. The sun slowly awakening from it's slumber as it begins to spread its warm glow out over the city. Coffee aromas lift slowly in the atmosphere, mixing with the honey upon your toast on the table. Immersed in yourself, ignoring everything else around, you gently rotate the crown of your watch back and forth whilst thinking about the day ahead.

Some rituals transcend time and space, that quote could be from a classic, or could have been you this morning.... 
Every few weeks we get an email or a phone call from someone who wants to know a bit more about watchwinders and questions why we no longer stock them, so we thought we should explain our thoughts on these units with you, as some of you probably have questions about them too.

These winders sound good but why do I need one? 
Mechanical watches are superb devices that keep good time, but... as they are based on a clockwork mechanism if they are not wound the spring runs down and they stop. Watch manufacturers fixed this issue by developing watches that use a battery instead of a spring for storing their power and those watches will run from 12-60months depending brand/battery etc. This is great if your watch is Quartz, but mechanical watches need winding.

How do they work? 
A watch winder usually takes the form of an attractive mechanical machine and is used to keep automatic (self winding) watches wound and running while they are not being worn. The machine rotates the watch which is an action that mimics the way the watch is worn on a human wrist, thus allowing the rotor (a moving weight inside the watch that winds the spring on a self winding watch) to turn and wind the main spring.

Can it overwind my watch?
A winder cannot over wind an automatic watch.

Sounds good, but do I need one? 
Well, If you have more than one automatic watch then you probably have watches you are not wearing and their 'charge' is wearing down. If you leave most automatic watches off your wrist for 48hours then they will stop. It depends on how much the re-setting of the time and date bothers you.

How about Kinetic and manual wind watches?
Kinetic watches work with the same principal as automatic watches with a turning rotor to charge up a capacitor/battery so yes a watchwinder can keep those watches charged up. So far no one has produced a viable winder for manual wind watches.

Does using a winder wear parts of my watch?  
Short answer is yes. You wouldn't leave your car running in your garage and expect no wear on the moving parts of the engine.

Is it really a winder you need?
If you are finding that your watch is not holding its power overnight when off your wrist, then its not really a winder that you need, your watch needs a service. 

So it's just convenience then? 
Yes of course. Winders are cool and owning one is a nice part of the watch collecting hobby, but how hard is it to wind a watch and set the time/date? Lets face it you don't leave your car running in the garage overnight just so that it's warmed up and ready to go first thing every morning?

Is there an exception?
Exceptions always prove the rule, and highly complex perpetual calendar watches where calendar setting requires certain procedures, so manufacturers advise that they should always be run continuously. Frequent manual calendar setting on these watches can be problematical and may cause accidental damage so these watches often come with their own winders. However those watches must undergo a factory service every 4-5years because they are continuously run.

Why don't we carry them anymore?
We may be purists and watch geeks here at the shop, but we think that watches are more than just time telling devices. The fact you have a 300+ part miniature machine on your wrist is supercool in itself, and the chance to interact with it is in some ways a bit special. We firmly believe that there is enjoyment in winding your watch. There should be solace in the ritual in the same way owners of large clocks in big houses and the chosen men on ships were entrusted to look after the timepiece that the institution revolved around. Automatic movements have removed the daily manual winding ritual, why go further?

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