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Maybe a dumb question, but is there a benefit, besides having to reset, to keeping a watch on a winder? Does it increase accuracy or lifespan?
Debatable, many watch enthusiasts claim it's damaging as the watch mechanism works harder for longer, others say it's good for the watch as it avoids the lubricants from drying out when the watch is stopped for long periods. The main benefit is to maintain the time and date while the watch is off your wrist.
Not a dumb question. With modern watches come modern lubricants that don't dry out even with minimal wear and movement. IF you get a winder that doesn't grossly overwind (recommendations on tpd, turns per day, vary by watch movement), it will serve two purposes:
1) to avoid having to reset the date and time everytime you wear an automatic for the first time in a few days and, subsequently:
2) to avoid wear and tear on the crown from resetting the time and date. The crown is almost always the weakest part of an automatic, especially if it's a screw-down crown. I think almost all of the debate now comes to whether a winder is necessary or not, as opposed to whether a winder will do damage or not.
And just to add some concerns: inside these winders the watch is put vertical (crown right, left, up, down). These 4 positions usually are with most frictions on all movements that use escapement wheel. This is due to the balance wheel really balanced out only in dial up or dial down position.
That's why it's possible that if a watch is stored vertical in a winder all time, there maybe an excessive wear especially on that one position on the balance wheel axis. This means that top & bottom pins on the balance wheel axis may wear out prematurely.
Practically it's desirable to have a healthy mix between daily wear (all positions), storage in box (dial up) and keeping in winder (vertical).
Winders damage watches. Unless you have a watch with a complication that is difficult to set (perpetual calendar, equation of time ...). You should avoid to use a winder. Any watch maker would tell you that. Why run your car engine over night when your car is in a car park? You will only achieve one thing: add some wear and tear to your engine which will end up costing you in maintenance.
If you don't wear your watch, let it wind down and even stop. When you want to wear it again, wind it up, set time and date and you are ready. And no, the crown or stem won't break unlike what others are saying.
So, as every serious watch repairer will tell you, if you don't have a highly complicated watch, do not use a winder. (Unless your watch maker wants to see you more often for very expensive servicing)
I've done this with a few of my watches (Omega Speedmaster and Seamaster and GO Senator Navigator PanoDate)...let them wind down and sit for a few months...If you don't wear them often and keep it in this wound down state, it seems like the lubrication in the watches start to gunk up and when you want to wear them again, they start to lose time. All the watches had to go in for service after letting them sit. This is the reason I bought my winders....All my watches are safely running and keeping good time.
Winders are to watches as balanced cables are headphones. Which is to say, their primary function is to improve the financial circumstances of their creators and purveyors.
Everything else “they” tell you about them is folklore.
"Winders damage watches." False. So you're saying if you wear your watch daily (Human watch winder) then you're damaging your watch?
"Any watch maker would tell you that." Maybe some will tell you that, but others will say it won't hurt and will be your choice to do so.
The only practical reason is if you have a perpetual calendar. Setting those can be quite the pain in the arse, so you want to keep it running. Anything less than that, say an annual calendar or a moonphase, can be slightly annoying to reset depending on the watch but is usually pretty simple.
Some people like them for style or display purposes.
As far as damage, most manufacturers provide specs on the number of rations per hour/day to prevent constant over winding, which can theoretically damage some older watches. Most modern automatic movements are constructed in such a way that’s incredibly difficult to ever damage them in such a manner.
Hands down the the funniest thing I’ve ever seen was a YouTube watch reviewer who had an omega speedmaster on a winder. It’s a manual wind watch.