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Automatic Watch Winders Guide

More info on winders for Automatic Watches, please also read this article

 
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automatic winder

What is a watch winder?

Watch winder is a device with an electric motor and one or more rotating platforms, to automatically wind up your watch when you are not wearing it. A winder keeps an automatic watch running and ready to wear any times.  It also serves to keep the lubricating oil inside the moving mechanism smoothly and evenly distributed, when you are not wearing your watch for a long period of time. A watch winder provides angular and/or circular motion that convert the motion's kinetic energy into stored micro electrical energy, so as to keep the watch movement running. Watch winders are only useful if your watch is an "automatic" or "self-winding" watch; watches like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Piaget, Tag Heuer, etc. A quartz watch does not need a watch winder.

automatic winders

Why use watch winder?


In short, a watch winder serves 3 functions :

1.  Provide convenience and time savings to watch owners, and an ease of mind that your watch is ready to wear whenever you want, even if you do not wear the watch frequently;
2   Reduce an automatic watch's wear and tear, in particular to the crown winding mechanism;
3.  Enhance the mechanical life of the watches.

An automatic watch usually has sufficient power reserve to run for only a couple to a few days, depends on the brands and the movement it uses. If you do not wear it for a few days, the watch will stop and you need to reset it and rewind it again. 

For watches with complicate functions like moon phase or perpetual calendars, to reset and to rewind it could be quite a tedious task that most watch owners would like to avoid. If you have more than one watch, to wind up and to reset each will not only be time consuming and tedious, but frequently resetting and rewinding the watch could cause certain harm to the mechanism of the watches; and could also hamper the long term mechanical life and functionality of the watch. Please read on for more detail explanation.


Is frequent resetting the watch by hand recommended?


No, not in the long term.  Manually resetting or rewinding your watches using the watch's screw down crowns will cause a problem over the long run, namely, thread wear. That is, manually unscrew the crown to wind and reset the watch by hand will eventually cause wear and tear to the crown's thread and other mechanism, in particular the gasket employed to water-seal the watch. Thus, frequent resetting the watch manually is not only inconvenient, it is also not recommended as doing so would accelerate wear and tear to the watch in the long term.


How can an automatic watch winder enhance the mechanical life of my automatic watch? 


In addition to reducing wear and tear of the crown system as mentioned above, a properly designed watch winder can help distribute the lubricating oil inside the watch evenly most of the times.  When a watch winds down and stops, the lubricating oil inside the watch will tend to settle and clot, and lose certain extent of its viscosity over an extended period of time.  

As such, the chance of certain moving parts not being properly lubricated when the watch runs again is much greater; resulting in increase friction and pressure caused to certain moving parts inside the watch.  The consequence would be that the mechanical life of the watch could be shortened and the performance of the watch being hampered.  This explain why certain watches, left in a watch retail store for too long a time without winding, seems to perform not in its pristine condition even if it is a "brand new" watch.  


Can a watch winder "over-wind" my watch ?


No.  Today's automatic watches are almost all manufactured with a mechanism that would dis-engage the winding mechanism once the mainspring is fully wound up.  Thus, over-winding should not be a concern.  But "over-stressing" should be considered when choosing a winder to wind up your watch.  In particular when you use a "watch-spinner" instead of a real electronic programmed automatic watch winder.  

In layman's term, over-stress is a result of placing an automatic watch in a winder that winds the watch non-stop, without any rest period in between. With this non-stop process, stress eventually build up. Like any other mechanical parts, over-stress could eventually shorten the useful life of the moving mechanism of a watch.  Please read this page for more info on avoiding "over-stressing" your watch.  


What is TPD (Turns per Day)?  Does a watch needed to be 100% wound up all the times?


"TPD" or Turns Per Day should only be viewed as a rough guideline. Technically, what TPD actually means is: "the static minimum numbers of turns to fully wind up a watch from zero to 100% if the watch is being wound up non-stop in a vertical plane".  But of course, a watch should not be wound up non-stop, as per aforementioned; and a watch needs not to be 100% fully wound up all the times.  Moreover, different designs of watch winders require different numbers of turns to wind up the same watch.  Thus, TPD is more meaningful as a way to compare different watch movements' efficiency to wind up a watch.  

In reality, there is no real hard TPD a watch must strictly adhere to. To put it into perspective, let say the same model of Rolex (or other brands) is being worn by two different types of person: 
(a) One is an active sport person (with frequent movement of arm and thus provide a higher TPD); will have his Rolex fully wound up as 
(b) An office worker who doesn't move his arm as often as the sport person (and thus result in a lower TPD);

As long as there are sufficient arm movements (not non-stop movements) throughout the days, the movements will be converted into energy being stored in the watch's main spring to keep the watch running. And a watch doesn't needs to be always 100% wound up.

However, it is always advisable to use the least numbers of turns to wind up a watch if possible; so that over-stressing or excessive wear and tear to the watch movement mechanism could be eliminated.


So TPD is better to be used as a reference, what else is important to consider when choosing a watch winder?  Why a watch winder's Turn-and-Rest function important?

Equally important to consider is the "combination effective turns achieved" by combining the rest and turn programming motion such as our winders would. Without going into too technical, what that means is, when the winder turns for a period of time, the watch is being wound up to a certain degree. To avoid over-stress, a rest period is essential. During this rest period, the watch will still be running and use up some energy (or stored electricity) and by doing so, stress is relieved and reduced. When the next cycle comes, the watch will be further wound up, then the rest cycle will again use up some energy and relieve further stress build up.  And so on. As such, a Rest-and-Turn type of winder like ours can be able to provide a much more efficient TPD without over-stressing the mechanism like a "non-stop" spinner winder would.

Besides, it is not always the case that a watch owner would wait until the watch is completely wind down and totally stopped before placing it on a watch winder.  A good watch winder design should accommodate the fact that watch owners, in most instances at their convenience, will place their watches onto a winder for winding, even when their watch has not completely stopped and wind down.  So that the watch is ready for the watch owners to wear all the times.  A good watch winder design should accommodate the lifestyle of watch owners, not vice versa.

With our winders' pre-programmed "Rest-and-Turn" mode, whether your watch has completely stop or partially wind down, our winders can achieve the optimum purpose of winding up your watch, allowing it to be ready for you to wear any times, without over-stressing your watch.


I have an old antique / vintage automatic watch, can I use a watch winder ?


There are two schools of thought.  One advocates that manually winding an old antique automatic could accelerate and cause unnecessary wear and tear to the delicate mechanism of the antique watch, and thus it is better to use an automatic watch winder.  Another school of thought is that due to the delicate mechanism of an antique automatics, manually winding the watch gently would be better.

We think it all depends on the conditions of your antique automatics.  We tend to believe, since watch winders are relatively new on the market, most older antique automatics were presumably having been wound up manually over an extended period of time in the past.  As such, the crown mechanism might already have sustained certain degree of wear and tear, due to a long period of time in winding the watch manually.  As such, we suggest start by using minimal amount of turning on an automatic watch winder with your antique older watches.  This would probably serves the purpose of winding the antique automatics without overstressing it.  Remember, there is no need to always have the watch wound up 100% all the times, especially for older antique watches.


Can all winders on the market wind up my watch?


No.  We have seen certain brands of winder that cannot wind up any type of watches, no matter how many turns or how fast it turns.  There are certain design and technical programming criteria that a true automatic watch winder must adhere to in order for it to perform its winding function properly.  Unfortunately, some unknowledgeable manufacturers, trying to make a quick profit. rush out some poorly designed products to the market without much thought on research and design.


I have seen some other brands of watch winders look similar to yours, are they the same?


There seems to be more copycats in the market nowadays.  Our ERS and Landmark watchwinders are the original in the "high quality yet affordable " category of watch winders.  As with other products, there are always inferior copycat products.  But our quality watch winder products have been tested, proven and are being used by thousands of satisfy watch owners around the world.  Being a main dealer of ERS watch winder products in USA, Canada, and Europe, we stand behind our products 100% and you can rest assure of the quality, the warranty, the service, and the affordability of our watchwinders.  Choosing a quality watch winder is essential to maintain and enhance the mechanical life of your watch collection.  Our high quality yet affordable watch winder products will provide some of the best value for your investments.


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