Watch Guides

Explained: How Does A Watch Winder Work?


Confused about how a watch winder works? This guide explains how to use a watch winder and makes one good.

How does an automatic watch winder work? 

Do watch collectors really need one? 

Can my mechanical watch be overwound by this watch winder?

If you are looking for answers to these questions, this article is for you!

Today, we will answer how can a watch winder wind your watch and some of the most frequently asked questions about these devices. 

We will also share with you a guide on how to look for the best watch winder for your automatic watches.

Read more in our easy-to-understand guide!

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What Is A Watch Winder?

Winders are devices used for automatic watches to remain wound and keep the watch running even if not worn for days. It also assists our timepieces in maintaining the time, date, and other functions on set. Watch winders are often designed to look like a box or a container.

It is an essential tool for enthusiasts with more than one watch in their personal collection to keep their watch constantly winding.

The internal rotor in our automatic watches moves whenever we wear them, which keeps the mainspring wound. When we aren’t using our wristwatches, this rotor will stop moving, making the mainspring exhaust its power reserve until the watch stops functioning.

These watch winders work only for mechanical watches with automatic movements. If the wristwatch is manual-wound, these devices cannot keep the watch wound. This also applies to a quartz watch.

How Does A Watch Winder Box Work?

A watch winder works by imitating the watch’s movement when worn on your wrist. 

This oscillating motion keeps the mainspring of our mechanical watches wound and always ready to wear anytime without having to manually wind them.

However, cheap watch winders on the market today constantly and continuously move. And more often, they only move in one direction. 

If this is the case with your watch winder, this may put a lot of stress on the internal movement of the wristwatch.

A quality watch winder can allow you to adjust and preset the direction of rotation, number of turns per day (TPD), speed, and even where to stop and move again.

How To Properly Use Your Watch Winder

How does a watch winder work
  1. Because your winder will not wind a watch that has totally stopped, begin by manually winding your watch by turning the crown 15 to 20 times.
  2. Carefully place your watch securely in the winder, making sure that it is fully seated in the holder.

    Then adjust turns per day (TPD) settings to their lowest setting and select bi-directional rotation mode.
  3. Turn the winder on. Over the next 48 hours or so, check your watch periodically to see if it is still keeping accurate time.

    In general, automatic watches have approximately 40 hours of power reserve from the time they have been wound.

    If the time is still correct after two days, this is the right setting for you and you don’t need to do any more experimenting.
  4. However, if the time is wrong, increase to the next TPD setting and repeat the above process.
  5. If the time is correct after two days, you have found the right setting.
  6. If the time is wrong, set the watch winder to rotate clockwise only and repeat the procedure.
  7. If the time is still correct after two days, this is your proper setting.
  8. If the time is incorrect, set it to rotate counter-clockwise only and repeat the procedure.

Is It Better To Use A Watch Winder Or Not?

To be fair, the answer to this question depends on the watches you have and your own preference.

If you have multiple automatic watches in your personal collection that you don’t wear every day, having an automatic watch winder is great and convenient if you don’t want to manually set your watch every time it stops. 

It is perfect for men with a busy lifestyle.

Also, you might need a watch winder if you own timepieces with more complex movements, such as the annual or perpetual calendar and moon phase complications. 

Setting up these functions after the watch has run out of power source can be time-consuming and difficult.

This also applies if you own a few vintage watches that do not have quick-set date functionality.

On the contrary, if you only have one wristwatch to wear every day, you won’t probably need a watch winder. 

Winding it with natural human wrist movement can save money while keeping your watch running.

Do You Leave Watch Winders On All The Time?

Automatic watch winders with directional settings and highly programmable turns per day function are generally safe to be left longer while winding your mechanical watch.

Additionally, most modern automatic watches operate and require more time in winding as they have longer power reserves that demand more movements per day to be fully wound.

But if your watch winder is incapable of those functions, it is best to manually wound your watch by wearing it on your wrist.

Can You Overwind A Watch In A Watch Winder?

This depends on the watch winder that you use. 

Most automatic watches have a slip-clutch or slipping bridle to prevent overwinding. That is also why you can leave your automatic watch inside the watch winder for a few days.

However, your watch shouldn’t be inside the watch winder for several weeks.

If a watch winder keeps a wristwatch fully wound at all times without stopping, the slip-clutch on its movement will continually engage and may wear over time.

Watch Winder Buying Guide: What To Look For

How does a watch winder work

If you need the service and convenience offered by watch winders, here are the things to look for and some tips for buying a reliable device for your watch collection.


Always look for the quality of the watch winder more than its design and showmanship. 

Most watch winders on the market are low in quality, making them easier to break and prone to damage.

A quality watch winder is built with fine materials, making them more durable and can last long for years. 

Their motor is also shielded to prevent magnetizing the watch’s inner movement, which sometimes causes a wristwatch to work inaccurately.


As we mentioned earlier, choosing a watch winder with good programmability could help to prevent your watch from overwinding.

A good watch winder allows you to set the turns per day (TDP) function, which is essential as not all automatic watches have the same TDP for their mainspring to remain wound.

Unfortunately, some watch winders, especially the cheaper ones, do not offer this function which could result in some watches not being wound enough to work properly or the slipping bridle being engaged too much, causing them to wear down easily.


Choose a watch winder that has position-aware features. With this function, when the winder is in the resting phase, it goes back to the preset position instead of some random and awkward position.

This is an excellent feature for people who like to display their watch collections for everyone to see.


Of course, materials used in watch winders are an important thing to consider if you want a new winder.

In choosing a device, always carefully inspect the materials used on the watch winder. If it is made with low-quality wood or plastics, it will most likely wear down faster and lose shape over time.

The materials used in the external body of the watch winder are also a good indicator of its inside and the quality of its motor.


Watch winders that have good quality are not only durable and made to work efficiently, they also come in elegant designs without compromising their overall performance as a winding device.

A well-designed watch winder will have watch holders (a cushion pillow or a spring-loaded mechanism) that are meticulously assembled to secure your timepieces without unnecessary stretching to avoid deformation.


The noise in the watch winders motor is the first sign that you have bought a device that could not last long. 

This means that the watch winder is not finely crafted and made in mass production for their manufacturers to earn profit.

Noisy motors of watch winders are irritating for most of the people who have used them. 

You can commonly hear this complaint from people who buy a cheaper device without researching or knowing its quality.


Some watch winders are battery-operated, and some must always be plugged in. Choosing between the two basically depends on your preference.

The good thing about having a battery-operated watch winder is that you can place it anywhere you want to display your watches. 

However, in plug-in watch winders, you don’t have to worry about frequent battery changes in winding your watch to fill up the power reserve.

Types Of Watch Winders

How does a watch winder work

Not all watch winders are created in the same way. 

Although all of them are winding devices for an automatic watch, they offer different features. 

To know the best watch winder for you, here are the different types of winders in the market.

Single vs Multi Watch Winders

Watch winders come in different sizes. 

So before buying a watch, you must consider the number of your timepiece collection. You must know how many wristwatches you have and how many have automatic movement.

The more watches a watch winder can wind, the more expensive it is. So if you only have at least two automatic watches in your collection, you can opt for a single watch winder.

But if you have numerous watches that need to be wound simultaneously, having a double watch winder or even a multi-slotted watch makes sense.

Corded vs Battery Powered Watch Winders

Corded watch winders are best for people who want to make sure that their watches are properly wound and always ready to wear anytime they need them. 

It is also great for people who want to avoid the annoying task of changing the battery every now and then.

The only problem with corded watch winders or models that run on AC power is that they should be used near a power outlet.

On the other hand, battery-powered watch winders can be used whenever you like. 

You can even securely store your watches in a safe, knowing they will stay powered and wound for the next time you would want to use them on your wrist.

Do I Need A Watch Winder?

Having a watch winder is a matter of choice for watch collectors because it also depends on their own watch collection.

Again, if you only own one watch with automatic movement in your collection, you probably don’t need a watch winder. You can just manually wind it by using it every day.

But if you really need one to keep most watches in your collections at full power and keep the correct time whenever you need them, always remember the guidelines on what to look for in a watch winder.

Ethan Hunt is the executive editor of, a luxury lifestyle website. With a background in education, he has a keen interest in educating readers on the finer things in life, particularly in the realm of fashion and luxury style. His love for these topics has led him to pursue a career in editorial work and he continues to share his knowledge with readers around the world.

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