A simple question, yet one to which no definite answer exists. In the past decade or so we’ve witnessed a surge in the number of watch winders and storage systems available for watch collectors, coming in all shapes, sizes, and prices. But is keeping a watch on winder an absolute necessity or a superfluous accessory?
A Question of Practicality
Let’s face it, there’s a certain comfort in knowing that whatever automatic watch in your collection you decide to wear at any given time, it will be ready to go without having to adjust anything.
This is especially handy with watches that have complex displays including annual and perpetual calendars as well as astronomical complications, where each function would require individual setting. With the exception of a handful of watches where the functions are integrated and can all be set at once via the crown or a single pusher, many complicated calendars require the owner to set each indication individually and in a specific order, making for a tedious process.
Perpetual Motion Takes its Toll
But on the flipside, resorting to a watch winder for a more hassle-free watch ownership experience does come with something I consider a price to pay, and that’s less hands-on time with one’s watches. This is purely subjective, but picking up a watch and giving the crowns a couple of turns then setting the time is an almost daily ritual I enjoy, a sort of intimate connection with these little analog machines. A winder takes all of that away.
And from a more technical perspective, there is another caveat with winders. Theoretically, keeping watches on winders working all the time could mean faster wearing down of parts, drying up of lubricants, and ultimately shorter service intervals. Some would compare this to having a car running 24/7.
A Glorious Setting
Yet one has to admit, with the kind of design and craftsmanship involved in some of the higher-end watch winders available today, be it small concealable ones for a single or handful of watches or monolithic creations that can house dozens of watches (and sometimes other valuable indulgences like prized vintage wines, rare cigars or aged single malt scotches), winders are not only a great way to keep one’s watches working, but also a means to keep one’s watches arranged and showcased in a most magnificent fashion. It would almost be a shame not to have one’s cherished timepieces kept in a suitably lavish setting.
However, if you’re the kind of person who likes keeping all of his or her watches in the same place, the segregation between manual winding watches, quartz and automatics may well be something you just can’t bring yourself to do. Even if larger winders do have compartments for manual winding watches and whatnot, it’s not quite the same thing as having an entire collection displayed as a singular whole.
So, should watches be stored on winders or run solely when being worn? It ultimately comes down purely to personal preference. If you take comfort in knowing that your watches are always ready to go and would prefer to fiddle with corrections as little as possible, then having a winder is pretty much the most logical means of storing watches.
Amr Sindi – Switzerland
A Saudi-born, Swiss-bred watch lover who just so happens to live in the world capital of horology. What started as a childhood fascination quickly became an all-consuming obsession. Today, I’m fortunate to be able to live and share my passion for watchmaking and all things Swiss through The Horophile.