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Can Watch Winder Damage Watches?

Sep 3, 2020

There is a lot of discussion about watch winders and whether or not they are safe to use. Do watch winders damage the watch? Or should you not worry?

If you look on the web, you will likely find different answers. Some argue that winders will damage the watch whereas others mean that it will be no problem.

The correct answer to this question is that it depends. Good quality watch winders, in general, will not cause damage to your automatic watch. The watch winder movements keep the mainspring of the watch wound, just as it would if it was worn on the wrist. However, poor quality or incompatible winders may not be safe for the watch due to magnetization of the watch, constant engagement and excessive wear of the slip clutch.

Why Should You Use a Watch Winder?

An automatic watch is powered by a rotor inside the movement which rotates when you wear it and the gravity and movements cause it to rotate. If you wont wear an automatic watch, the rotor will not wind the movement. This means that the energy stored in the watch will eventually run out, causing the watch to stop.

A watch winder is a device in which you place your watch, which then rotates, in order to make the rotor spin, and provide energy to the movement.

A watch winder thus keeps automatic watches running when they are not in use, which thus prevents the need of having to set the watch every single time after you have not used it since it has run out of power.

Why Do Some People Think Watch Winders Damage Watches?

There are a couple of argument for watch winders damaging watches.

The key negative points about a watch winder here is:

l Magnetism

l Overwinding

The difference between low-quality watch winders and higher-quality, well-made watch winders is often that the more qualitative winders have more refined and well-made modes. 

Can a Winder Overwind a Watch?

A watch winder should not be able to overwind a watch, per se. Just as you should not be able to overwind your watch by winding it manually.

Watches have a slip-clutch in place which ensures the main spring does not get overwound.

So, the main spring is unlikely to be damaged through overwinding.

However, constant engagement of this slip-clutch through overwinding could lead to excessive wear and tear on the slip-clutch itself. This could cause damage to this part of the mechanism over time.

So, there is a risk of damage to the slip-clutch if consistent overwinding is happening.

However, so long as the correct watch winder is chosen for your specific brand, and you are turning it at the correct TPD and for the correct amount, this excessive engagement of the slip-clutch should not happen and no damage should be caused.

Can Watch Winders Magnetize Watches?

A potential issue that is commonly discussed when it comes to watch winders is magnetization. Some low-quality winders may actually have magnetic fields from the electric motor. Its no secret that magnetism and mechanical watches do not go together very well, because magnetism can cause the mainspring to stick, thus resulting in loss of accuracy.

The good news is that a good-quality watch winder from a reputable brand should include a shroud or shield (usually a steel frame) which absorbs the small magnetic fields and protects your watch from this magentization effect.

So if you purchase a high-quality winder, you should not have to worry about the watch winder magnetizing your watch.

Can an Incompatible Winder Damage My Watch?

Possibly, yes. If you choose a watch winder that is incompatible with your watch, you may be overwinding the watch, causing the slip-clutch to be engagement constantly. As discussed above, this could lead to excessive wear and tear of this part of the watch mechanisms.

How Do I Make Sure My Winder is Not Damaging My Watch?

It is important to make sure that the watch winder you choose is compatible with the watch or watches you have. Watch companies will assist in informing you the movements and turns required for your watch to be able to choose the correct watch winder. This available information shows how the watch companies believe a watch winder is a useful if not essential piece of kit.

If you use an incompatible watch winder, there is a risk that it could damage your watch, which we will talk about below.


To conclude, are watch winders safe?

Bad quality winders do exist. And you need to stay clear of these. They could be harmful to your watch due to the reasons weve discussed above:

l Inaccurate TPD leading to overwinding of the watch and excessive wear on the slip-clutch

l Magnetization of the watch from the motor and magnet

Dont be tempted by cheap imports or from companies that you have not researched.

However, a good-quality watch winder that is compatible with your watch should not damage your watch. And the consensus from the main watch brands and winder manufacturers is that watch winders are safe to use.

As long as you set the winder to an appropriate mode setting, and buy a qualitative winder, then yes, watch winders are safe, and you won’t have to worry about damaging your watch.

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