Watch winder – A decorative as well as useful accessory

08. Jun 2022
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Nowadays, mechanical watches are much more than just timepieces. The fascination of complex technology in the smallest of spaces and the enthusiasm for a functional as well as attractive piece of jewellery with the highest aesthetic standards have often made them sought-after collector’s items. Also because of the variety of interesting objects, enthusiastic collectors and wearers often own more than just one watch with a classic, mechanical interior.


This development, the watch as a piece of jewellery, and certainly several of them, entered our society with the idea of a colourful plastic watch. With it, the Swiss watch industry succeeded in making the possession of several watches and the constant changing of them, the focus of consumers. If these watches were then mostly mechanical, the owner quickly got into the embarrassment of not being able to spontaneously switch back and forth between the models, because the watch of choice had mostly stopped in the meantime.

In-house assembly
Dial of the Opus Perpetual with a perpetual calendar
Watch holders in three sizes for different wrist sizes

Until then, watch winders were only used in watchmakers’ workshops to check the automatic wristwatches repaired there. But now, in a modified form, they are also interesting for home use. From then on, private users could keep their mechanical watches, which were of course only automatic, permanently in motion and thus ready for use. Changing the watch no longer required time-consuming adjustments of the various displays. The more different displays the watch had, the greater the positive effect of the watch winder. The perfect example of this is a perpetual calendar with the day, date, month, moon phase and leap year displays. This usually takes several minutes to be perfectly adjusted again, now it could be taken off the watch winder and immediately “wrapped” around the arm.


Another positive effect of the watch winder is that the said wristwatch is permanently being moved. Thus, the wheels in the bearings rotate constantly, successfully eliminating the danger of “gumming up”. Of course, it must be said here that lubricants have improved permanently over the past decades and this “gumming up” no longer has the same significance as in the past.


There will certainly also be some critics who prefer the lubrication problems to a constantly running movement. However, one must also take into account here that the materials and thus also the wear of automatic watch movements have been significantly improved in recent years and thus the additional burden can be subordinated to the practical advantages (as described above).

In the meantime, there are various suppliers in the most diverse price regions who offer watch winders for home use. When buying a watch winder, however, you should pay close attention to the quality and origin. After all, a watch winder that does not fulfil its purpose 100% is no fun, makes no sense and does not do justice to the watches it is supposed to “look after”.


Under the name “Rotalis”, the Erwin Sattler manufactory offers watch winders in a wide variety of models, sizes and price ranges. Very important: all models are manufactured according to the strict principles of unconditional quality in terms of technology and appearance under the premise “Made in Germany” in Gräfelfing near Munich.


The technical details and special functions of the watch winders from Sattler are explained in detail below:


The controls of the watch winders simulate the wearing of the respective watch. This is done by dividing the daily 24-hour function time of the watch winder into a 16-hour active phase and an 8-hour rest phase. Here, the necessary rotor revolutions of the movement per day are optimally distributed over the active phase. The advantage of this is that the movement of the watch is usually adapted to the wearer and thus to this rhythm, so that the watch can continue to work precisely.


Speaking of the active phase, the revolutions required by the respective watch movement are distributed by the watch winder’s control system during this period in such a way that the mainspring is ideally tensioned and no additional wear can occur due to too many revolutions. Now the question arises how the watch owner can find out the number of revolutions …. This is where another special feature of the Erwin Sattler Rotalis models comes into play: the integrated database.


The company is the only one in the world to have a register of over 12,000 registered watch models with the exact number of revolutions and directions of rotation specified by the manufacturer. Thus, it is not necessary to know the number of revolutions and the direction of rotation of the respective model, but only the name of the wristwatch model.


Perfect implementation also means that each individual watch winder unit can be individually programmed with the corresponding number of revolutions. It is therefore only logical and consistent that each unit has its own motor (of course “Made in Germany”) for the drive.


The watch winders are programmed and controlled via Wifi; a Wifi-capable device must be connected to the watch winder in order to control both the winders and the LED lighting.


After each winding interval, the watch holders always remain exactly aligned at 12.00 o’clock, which is good for the aesthetics in the rest position.


Incidentally, there are 3 different sizes of watch holders for the Erwin Sattler watch winders. This is the only way to ensure that watches with different strap lengths have a firm and secure place in the respective Rotalis.


Whether large or small, whether three or 60 winders, every Rotalis that comes out of the Gräfelfing factory has an in-house production depth of over 90%!


Two more details on the side, with regard to the increasingly important security in the private sector. The large Erwin Sattler objects with watch winders, such as the Troja 20 or the Rotalis 24, can be opened by the individually programmed fingerprint scanner and can also be connected to the in-house alarm system!

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