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 Post subject: The watch winder thread
PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:49 am 
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Watch winders are one of the most asked about things on this forum so I thought that I would try and put together a post that answers all of the common questions. The basics aren’t actually that difficult, but they do seem to cause all kinds of confusion. As always feedback is appreciated and I’m sure that I’ll forget some of the questions so I’ll update this as I get a chance.

Let’s start with the basics.

A watch winder does not wind a watch! Watch winders are designed to prevent an automatic watch from winding down when not being worn. They rotate the watch causing the rotor to rotate and wind the mainspring. The number of rotations can generally be chosen from a series of programs and the idea is to choose a setting that is close to the number that the watch will need to add 24 hours of reserve to the mainspring (i.e. in a 24 hour period the winder adds as much power as the watch uses, effectively keeping the watch wound to the same extent). There are watch winders for manual wind watches but those are very specialised and aren’t considered here. Winders come individually or in combos up to 50 or more. Additionally, some winders allow for two watches on each head (more on that later).

Are winders bad for watches?

Subject to some of the advice given below, there is nothing damaging about winders. If the watch sits on a winder that is set correctly it will likely receive less wear than if it were being worn. While running the watch on the winder will cause more wear than if the watch were sitting not running, this isn’t really an issue. With modern watches the service period is dictated by the aging of the oils not excessive wear on movement parts.

Do I have to buy a winder?

No. If you wear your watch every day then leave it on the night stand at night and it will be fine the next day. You only need to consider a winder if you aren’t going to be wearing a watch for an extended period of time – close to or in excess of the power reserve. Even then, you don’t have to buy a winder – you have one at the end of each arm that will wind the watch perfectly adequately via the crown. Winders simply offer more convenience.

Why are some winders cheap and others cost a fortune?

Like everything else there are huge differences in the quality of winders from different manufacturers. There are many winders that contain Chinese motors that are generally low quality and contain plastic gears. These are inexpensive – sometimes under $50 on eBay and will wind the watch. However, they are frequently noisy out of the box or become noisy in a few months. They generally can’t be repaired, but they may last for several years (or just a few months). Buy them as consumables and you probably won’t be disappointed.

At the other end of the market there are winders with German or US motors and metal gears. Generally these also have a much better fit and finish elsewhere in the winder – the box, the cushions, etc. These aren’t immune from problems – the whole industry has a questionable track record, and can also become noisy over time. If you do have problems with these you generally have a fairly good warranty that you can fall back on, and they will be repairable if they fail after the warranty expires.

Both types of winders have advantages and disadvantages; it’s down to the individual to decide which way they want to go.

Why do people keep talking about rest periods?

Remember that the basic premise of a winder is that it will put as much reserve into the mainspring as the watch will use in a 24 hour period. That can be achieved in a number of ways – it can sit idle for 23 hours and 59 minutes and then spin like a propeller for a minute, or it can turn constantly at a slow speed for a full 24 hours. I think that most people will recognise that the first example isn’t a good idea, but neither is the second. If your winder doesn’t rest (and many don’t) then the mainspring is never being given an opportunity to wind down – it is constantly being kept at the same level, and if the watch is put on the winder straight off the wrist then that likely means that the mainspring is constantly kept fully wound – under the maximum tension. It’s like manually winding the watch constantly (but slowly). You want the mainspring to at least have a short period of being able to wind down and then get topped up to avoid excessive wear on the mainspring and barrel.

So how long a rest period do I need?

Winders come with many different rest periods – from just a couple of minutes to several hours. There is no right answer as to how long the rest period should be, but you do need to make sure that the rest period is enough to at least allow the mainspring to ease off from maximum tension. Personally I would never use a winder that has less than a 10 minute rest period. Winders with long (several hour) rest periods may cause the watch to stop if the reserve is low (the rest period allows the watch to completely run down).

What’s with clockwise, counter clockwise and both?

Automatic watches wind from the rotation of the rotor on the back of the movement. Some of them wind in only one direction, and some of them wind in both directions. Winders can generally be set to wind either clockwise all the time (for watches that only wind clockwise), counter clockwise all the time (for watches that only wind counter clockwise) or alternating between clockwise and counter clockwise (for watches that wind in both directions).

Watches that can be wound in both directions will also wind without any problems on a clockwise or counter clockwise program, but if your watch only winds in one direction then you need to set the winder correctly or the watch will not stay wound.

What are tpd?

Turns per day (tpd) are the number of rotations that the winder will give the watch. Some of the more basic winders have a fixed number of tpd, the better ones will be programmable for different numbers.

How do I know how many tpd and which direction my watch needs?

This is probably the most common question, and it’s probably the easiest to answer. One of the major winder manufacturers – Orbita, provides a database of watches and movements with information about how many tpd and which direction. The database can be found here - http://www.orbita.net/database-search/

Does it matter if my watch winder only has settings for more tpd than I need?

Within reason, no. If you were wearing your watch it would probably get more tpd than it needs to stay wound, but because automatic watches can’t be over wound it will be fine. If you have a watch that only needs 600tpd and your winder winds at 1,300tpd then I would look for a different winder, but if the lowest setting is 800tpd then you’ll be OK.

Does it matter if my watch winder only has settings for fewer tpd than I need?

Again, within reason you’ll be fine. If the winder doesn’t provide enough turns to keep the watch fully wound then the reserve will gradually reduce, but unless you leave the watch on the winder for extended periods it won’t be a practical problem. You should use the most turns as you can, but if your watch needs 800tpd and the winder can only provide 650tpd then the watch will still run for almost 10 days.

So how do I know how long it will run for if it has fewer tpd?

Are you sure you want to know – it means math!

OK, if you’re still reading……….

Assume that the watch is fully wound and that it’s a Breitling with a 42 hour power reserve. Let’s further assume that it needs 800tpd to keep it fully wound. That means that it needs 33.33 turns per hour (800/24). If it’s not getting 800 tpd then the watch will wind down, with the reserve being reduced by an hour for every 33.33 turns shortfall. Suppose that the winder is providing 650tpd, that means that the shortfall is 150tpd. That equates to a reserve reduction of around 4 1/2 hours (150/33.33). So after one day the reserve will be 37 1/2 hours (42 – 4 1/2), after two days it will be 33 hours (37 1/2 – 4 1/2), etc

Is it OK to use a winder that has two heads per motor?

There are a number of winders that have cushions for two watches on each motor to try and keep the costs down. It’s not a good idea to buy these (or at least to put two watches on them) if they use plastic gears. Unless the watches are identical the differences in weight and weight distribution will cause the gears to be unbalanced and with plastic gears that will quickly cause wear and parts failure. If your motor uses metal gears then there is less of a concern, but you should still try to use similar size and weight watches on each motor.

I put my watch on my winder but it’s not winding – why?

Remember that winders don’t wind watches – they keep them wound. If you put a watch that has completely run down on a winder then it will still be completely run down when you take it off. If the watch was fully wound when you put it on the winder and it stopped after the normal power reserve then it is probably a watch than only winds in one direction and the winder is set for the opposite direction.

If you had an extended reserve but it still stopped then either it is a watch that winds in only one direction and your winder is set for both directions (so only winding the watch half the time), or the turns per day are insufficient.

Which brand should I buy?

Whatever you want. I don’t like recommending specific winders, but if you find one you like then do a search for it here, chances are that someone has offered an opinion and their experiences of that make.

Why didn’t you answer my question?

Because I forgot about it – what do you need to know?



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:51 am 
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Thanks for the great post Roff.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:29 pm 
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First time using this but Here goes!
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:44 pm 
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Awesome. Appreciate the effort and new resourse.

But I stopped reading at the math part. :huh

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:02 pm 
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Ah, but what's the effect and relationship of temperature, humidity, the seasons, and meteoric rain showers have on the tpd, rest period, and power reserve, huh? And how about equatorial positional effect? After all, some toilets flush clockwise, and some anti-clockwise depending on which side of the equator you're on, right? :?:

Otherwise really nice guide Prof! :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:58 am 
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Great job Roff.

A toilet... that flushes? What? Where? When? Huh?


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 7:26 am 
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Great post Roff. Just to add my little tip, if you have a winder that does more TPD than you need simply put it on a timeswitch. I sat and calculated how many TPD I needed as a minimum and then set my 24 hour timeswitch to switch the winder on and off to compensate, it now has 2 or 3 periods per 24 hours where it stops completely for a couple of hours.

Since doing this I've found my watches seem to run more accurately over all, purely coincidental I think as I can't see what bearing reducing the 'over winding' would have.

Incidentally Breitling UK's vintage watchmaker has told me there is absolutely no problem with keeping a vintage Chrono-Matic on the winder too.

Stef

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Last edited by Stefan Tapp on Sun Oct 24, 2010 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 8:09 am 
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Good Stuff 2 Know!

Thanks!!!

Best Regards,

Enezdez

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:26 am 
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Brilliant Roff, great post! Bet you'll still be answering the same old questions tho! :D

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 11:25 am 
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Thanks for taking the time Roff. I always enjoy learning something new, particularly concerning watches and I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Great stuff :thumbsup:

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 11:47 am 
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Stefan Tapp wrote:
Great post Roff. Just to add my little tip, if you have a winder that does more TPD than you need simply put it on a timeswitch. I sat and calculated how many TPD I needed as a minimum and then set my 24 hour timeswitch to switch the winder on and off to compensate, it now has 2 or 3 periods per 24 hours where it stops completely for a couple of hours.

Since doing this I've found my watches seem to run more accurately over all, purely coincidental I think as I can't see what bearing reducing the 'over winding' would have.

Incidentally Breitling UK's vintage watchmaker has told me there is absolutely no problem with keeping a vintage Chrono-Matic on the winder too.

Stef

:yeahthat I also worked out what I needed (TPD) and used a timer to compensate. I also feel that if set to be off over night it will replicate how a watch on the wrist would be. I.E. off the wrist at night or else not moved much throughout sleep!!!

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:10 am 
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A brilliant resource Prof.

Thanks for taking the time and effort to put this together.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:46 pm 
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Great post Roff and some excellent information here. Thank you for taking the time to write this up and sharing with us. :uhmmm: Now to decide on which one and how many motors. Oh well another excuse to appease my growing WIS affliction. :boingb:

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:58 am 
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Great post Roff. Good stuff and an awesome resource for the multitude of winder questions. I bet this thread will get some good "copy and paste" action.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:18 am 
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Great post...

But what about the ones that only give you a time its spinning.. not tpd ?

Are they any good?

Here is the specs on the one I have scoped out on ebay... Little concern it would run all night?

Mode A (Counter-clockwise):
The turning plates will rotate counter-clockwise for 6 minutes and then pause for 30 minutes. (repeat)

Mode B (Clockwise): The turning plates will rotate clockwise for 6 minutes and then pause for 30 minutes. (repeat)

Mode C (Automatic):
The turning plates will rotate counter-clockwise for 20 minutes and then pause for 10 minutes; winds clockwise for 20 minutes and then pause for 10 minutes. (repeat)


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