(Photo coutersy of: https://www.gearpatrol.com/watches/a403421/watch-winder/)
If you have friends who appreciate or collect luxury watches, then you have most likely debated this over a few pints. The question is whether or not you should keep your watches in a watch winder. It is a fact that watch winders are very useful when it comes to keeping the right date and time on your pieces, thus saving you time if you have not worn it in a few days. But since the introduction of the watch winder, the debate has grown as to how the watch winder might actually affect the longevity of your watch. Due to the advent of the internet, blogs, youtube videos and various watch forums, it has become difficult to determine if a watch winder can hurt a watch and the experience, or actually a tool to make ownership more enjoyable.
Finding truth in all the noise surrounding the subject is difficult, but we hope to offer some insight for you to make your own decision. So first off, a watch winder will only be something to consider if you own watches with automatic movements. A winder will have no effect on manual wound or quartz watches due to their internal movement. This is because the feature that gives power to an automatic watch is the movement of your wrist while wearing the timepiece. A winder also might not be necessary if you wear your watch daily, and it's the only piece in your collection. For those rotating through multiple watches in a week or even month, a watch winder could be more applicable to their lifestyle as the watches might go days without being powered through your motion. After a few days of laying dormant, the watch will lose its power and the next time it is worn, you will have to wind the crown and set the time. A watch winder is the solution for this type of situation. A watch winder replicates the movement of your wrist by rotating in place, often switching directions, and some can even have their speeds adjusted. This provides constant power to the automatic watch, allowing the timepiece to maintain accurate date and time.
(Photo courtesy of: https://us.rapportlondon.com/collections/speciality-watch-winders/products/paramount-nine-watch-winder)
The major benefit of a watch winder becomes obvious depending on the complications on your timepieces. With more complications, the task of setting a watch with a moonphase, annual calendar, or perpetual calendar can become very cumbersome, and in some cases actually quite difficult because they require tools. A few other benefits of watch winders including safe storage, and display of a single watch or multiple.
The debate that surrounds watch winders stems from the subject of whether a watch winder can actually add to the degradation of the internal components due to constant wear and tear that the movement will have to endure. The other side of the argument states that actually letting the watch stay unwound can hurt the movement because the lubricants and oils around the gears have had time to sit and coagulate. If this occurs for too long, it's suggested that it might have an effect on the movement and thus functionality and accuracy of the watch.
At one point or another, both of these arguments have had value. However, due to modern watchmaking and synthetic oils the issues around coagulation have become obsolete. In fact, modern lubricants are more likely to evaporate, which is why a regular servicing (every 4-6 years, depending on the brand) is recommended by manufacturers. Potential damage from a winder is thus only more likely to occur if your watches are not serviced or properly lubricated, and spend a lot of time on the winder. This being said, it is our belief that with proper care and routine servicing from a reputable watchmaker for your luxury timepieces, a winder can be a useful tool to save time and maintain accuracy in most modern automatic watches.