One of the most frequently asked questions is "Do I need an automatic watch winder?". We answered this question more generally in a previous blog post but we wanted to revisit this question with some more detail this time. The short answer is, it is not an absolute necessity, but may help keep your watch running smoothly and always ready to wear.
When you purchase a watch the watch, it probably has been sitting in the display for some period of time without being wound. This is fine for a short period, but watches that sit too long without any movement may have issues with the lubrication clumping or moving out of the where it was originally intended. The use of newer synthetic oils has helped in this aspect, but it is still something that can happen even with the newer, more advanced lubricants. Watch makers will agree, that even the finest, most accurate time pieces will not perform to its ability when it has been sitting in a non-running condition for long periods of time. All automatic watches require regular maintenance and in our experience, using a watch winder daily does not cause a watch to be more frequently serviced than without. The more common problems we see that require repair are from damaging the watch while setting the time or winding the watch. All automatic watches are meant to be wound manually or automatically, but manual winding does put undue stress on the mechanism as it is not designed to be used frequently. We have seen stripped threads from pushing the crown onto the threads and forcing it to screw when not properly aligned, bent or broken crown stems from daily stress, worn gaskets compromising the water resistance, and stripped gears from setting date while the watch was between 10pm-2am. Some of these issues are simple to fix but some things like water damage can be very costly. All of these issues can be avoided by using a watch winder, so we recommend using one for this reason alone.
Another factor for needing a watch winder is for convenience. Some watches have very complicated movements that may require a lot of time to setup every time it is worn. Even the automatic watches without complicated movements, it can be burdensome to change dates and figure out if it's on AM or PM every time you wear the watch. Personally, there have been numerous times when I have run out of the house with a watch with the intention of setting the time later and forgetting. In the most embarrassing example, someone mentioned the time on my watch was wrong. Another example of a situation a watch winder could have prevented.
Using a watch winder, it is also easy to gauge when you need service. If you have had a watch in a winder for years and the time is always correct and then one day the time is off it can be an indicator that it's time to get the watch serviced. Some watches can even be damaged if the date is changed between 10pm-2am. The chance of damaging or causing wear to a watch is much higher when setting the time manually so using a watch winder can help with this problem.
In the end, all automatic watches require maintenance. It is an automatic watch with moving parts that will eventually wear and need to be replaced. Fear of putting undue stress on a watch, in some cases, can cause a watch to be serviced sooner than it needs to be. We have seen watches run for 10 years without service and some need to be serviced in a few months after purchase. We recommend using a watch winder to keep your watch running smoothly and getting your watch serviced at the regularly scheduled intervals or when your watch starts to gain or lose more than 5 minutes a month.