Unitasker Wednesday: The watch winder

I’m not much of a watch fan. I stopped wearing them when I started carrying around my cell phone, like a good portion of the population. But what if you still have a watch, even though you don’t wear it? What can you do to keep your watch wound? Enter the Wolf Designs Watch Winder. Feel free to skip the winding of your watch with this amazing product that doubles as a display case!

Now, when you are not wearing your watch, you can let everyone know you own a watch by displaying it and winding it at the same time! Simply set the machine to turn the winding mechanism forward or backward based on the direction of your watch’s wind.

What would one pay for such a product? If you guessed $300, then you were right! From the product description:

This single watch winder/rotator module 1.5 in black leather is crafted by Wolf Designs. Their name is synonymous with quality and you can be assured that your watches will be kept wound in style!

Style can not be sacrificed when it comes to keeping a watch wound. Think about that when shopping for your next watch winder!

Thanks to reader Marie for bringing this unitasker to our attention.

**Each week, the Unitasker Wednesday column humorously pokes fun at the unnecessary, single-use items that manage to find their way into our homes.

39 Comments for “Unitasker Wednesday: The watch winder”

  1. posted by DarthBob on

    While I ordinarily agree with your unitasker assessments, one thing I’ll say about this one is that it’s primarily aimed at collectors of fine watches.

  2. posted by Bob Bobmore on

    I enjoy your unitasker humor, but in this case, the item isn’t unnecessary. Fine watches (in the multi-thousand dollar range) don’t get worn every day, and keeping them wound preserves their expensive and complicated mechanisms. A good watch winder is expensive, but uses a computer chip to ensure the watch isn’t overwound.

  3. posted by tp on

    I agree with the two comments. If you have a self-winding watch, you actually need something like this.

  4. posted by Lucy on

    I agree as well — this is aimed at people who have high-end watches which need physical movement to keep working (e.g. the watches harness the natural movement of an arm to store energy to run the watch, instead of a simple battery). The complexity of the internal workings require appropriate maintainence, which includes making sure the watches are consistently wound. These winders can be used when the watch is taken off at night, or if a watch is not worn over a weekend/for an extended period of time.

    These watches are not like a typical quartz movement watch (which you can leave in a drawer for weeks without any change in timekeeping).

    Although this wouldn’t be useful for the majority of watch wearers, there is a strong minority who would find this unitasker necessary.

  5. posted by Nick on

    I thought the recurring theme with the unitaskers is not that they’re useless, it’s just that most people should never need them for anything. For those of us with simple, battery-powered or otherwise non-windable watches, the thought of putting our watches in one of these is funny.

  6. posted by Monica Ricci on

    Even though I’m an organizer and declutter queen myself, I have to agree with the other commenters. I have a friend who is a Watch Guy. He owns several very nice (read: expensive) watches, and it is important, apparently to keep a fine (read: expensive) watch wound when you’re not wearing it. So as much as I don’t dig most unitaskers, this one, like the melon baller I blogged about recently, is one worth the space and money IF you’re a collector of fine watches.

  7. posted by Amelia on

    Sorry to say, I agree too. My grandpa collected watches and gave them to my dad when he passed away. My dad now has a very small but sentimental collection of watches (mostly that need to be wound) and does not currently display them. Although $300 is out of my price range, displaying something special to you is always a nice idea.

  8. posted by JW on

    Why would you need more than one watch, anyway?

  9. posted by ns on

    i have to reset my watch time and date if i don’t wear it once every 48 hours. this uni-tasker saves a lot of time and hassle. nb, i have seen them for *much* cheaper elsewhere.

  10. posted by Some Dude on

    I’m going to agree with the common theme, I have a couple of nice automatic watches that I don’t wear daily and they’re always stopped.

    I thought the unitasker wednesday thing was to make fun of silly redundant products, not niche products.

  11. posted by Erin Doland on

    This product isn’t for automatic “self winding” movement watches. (It doesn’t rotate the watch.) It only turns the little dial on watches that have to be wound.

  12. posted by Anne on

    Yep, cell phone took care of all the watches I had (too many), they were an accessory to my outfit…so to answer JW, that is why you have more than one watch. πŸ™‚
    I cleared a large area on my dresser.
    I guess I am cheap, cause all my watches had batteries, hadn’t had a wind watch since I was a kid with my first Timex, that I wound til it broke!
    The only redeeming thing about this box (to ME) would be if you had inherited an old watch that was pretty, and nice to display, but the box is very much not something I would want to display.

  13. posted by jocelyn on

    did anyone else think of Forgetting Sarah Marshall after the second line?

  14. posted by anon on

    @Erin, I really don’t know what you mean. This winder rotates automatic watches so the counterweight spins and winds the watch. It’s a watch winder, and it winds watches by rotating them.

  15. posted by Erin Doland on

    @anon — Matt picked this item because it doesn’t spin (no counterweights, no rotations). We are under the impression that it only turns the dial (little clamps moving the dial front or back). If it does spin, then the website makes it _really_ difficult to know that.

  16. posted by infmom on

    I collect watches, and more of mine wind up than have batteries. One treasured watch belonged to my grandfather, who left it to my father, who left it to me. It’s a self-winding watch with a date window, and if the watch stops, it’s old enough that you can’t just pull the stem out halfway to reset the date, you have to run the hands clear round the dial enough times to get the date set properly again. That’s an incredible nuisance and I can’t believe it isn’t hard on the watch.

    Vintage self-winding watches need to be kept wound, and the best way to do it is to keep them in motion. Thus, the invention of the rotational watch winder. Obviously the rotational watch winders are very useful, while this one (which just grabs the stem and winds the watch) is for rich, extraordinarily lazy people. πŸ™‚

    Now, having said that, there’s no need to pay $300 for a rotational watch winder unless you’ve got plenty of money to blow. They can be had for less than $100 if you keep your eyes open, and it’s well worth the cost to keep a fine (or treasured) watch in good shape.

  17. posted by comboman on

    Since it is both a display case AND and watch winder, it’s not really a uni-tasker; it’s a bi-tasker.

  18. posted by Fred on

    I call fail on this. Single and multi watch winders are not a superfluous purchase if you own nice automatic watches.
    They rotate the watch case, thus keeping the rotor moving and mainspring wound, as well as making sure that the lubrication does not settle and dry out.
    As an aside, I don’t understand all the bashing I see against quality watches and antique timepieces. A cell phone is functional, but they are ugly lumps that are best when silent and hidden. Plus, I’m not pulling out my phone to check the time while riding a motorcycle.

  19. posted by JD on

    For $300, this definitely rotates the watch to keep it wound. (The item is even called a “winder/rotator module” on Amazon, for pete’s sake.) I only know of one watch winder on the market that will actually spin the crown to keep a manually-wound (as opposed to automatic) watch wound up without overwinding: the Sempre 1 from Orbita, and it goes for $2600.

  20. posted by consumer_q on

    I keep these on top of my wine refrigerator. πŸ˜‰

    Really though, as other people have mentioned, if you are a collector then these are required (kinda like a wine refrigerator).

  21. posted by Jenna Rocca on

    Some people have to have a watch winder if they have more than one watch. Also it is nice to have something that is a “unitaster” also operate in one’s decor, so it might as well be pretty.

  22. posted by Peter on

    I have to agree with many of the commenters here. While I am a huge supporter, leader, and follower of the uncluttered lifestyle, I don’t believe a watch winder is all that unreasonable.

    I think that many of Unclutterer’s fine readers would agree with me when I say that there’s a big difference between a watch winder and items like the strawberry huller, the s’more machine, and, my personal favorite, the spinning ice cream cone.

    Watch winders are for watch lovers. So, if a fine timepiece isn’t your thing, I guess I could see why this would be a unitasker wednesday post. In my personal opinion, a watch winder that keeps the movement constant in a fine, expensive timepiece is okay in my book. A larger watch winder that keeps ten watches in movement? (btw, they do exist) Well, that’s a bit much. One very, very nice watch is something I am a supporter of. Even if I could just check the time on a computer, my iPhone, or by asking someone on the street.

    When the time comes that my personal finances are in check and I have all my ducks in order, I plan on purchasing a beautiful rose gold Panerai. So you will, in fact, see one of these in my room…next to, in the spirit of everything Unclutterer, nothing.

  23. posted by Mer on

    What I wanna know is, what happened to Extreme Minimalist Monday??? I loved that feature.

  24. posted by anon on

    @Erin, the counterweight is inside each watch body. With manually wound watches, there are basically two types: the “automatic” ones (with the counterweight in the body), and hand-wound watches (wound by turning the crown – the little thing you pull out to adjust the time). This is for the former. I have never seen or heard of a device that will clamp and turn a watch crown. First, crowns are often unidirectional. Second, crowns frequently screw down or are recessed. Third, crowns aren’t always in the same place.

    Anyway, this thing turns back and forth. Only the round portion that holds the watch turns. Pretty standard design.

  25. posted by Isaac on

    I think for most of us out there, this thing is just…odd. I’ve never heard of a watch winder, and can’t imagine needing one. Oh, and I do collect watches πŸ™‚ I guess not the very expensive ones, however, that need their own watch winder case.

  26. posted by spark on


    This might help:


    “The 2.0 Module simulates wearing a watch, allowing it to wind and unwind.”

    The one you have linked is apparently the 1.5 Module, but I’m guessing it works in the same fashion.

    Regardless of how it operates, it is certainly a unitasker.

    I don’t understand why a person would own so many watches that he couldn’t wear the same one enough to keep it wound in the first place. That sounds like clutter for sure.

    But to each his own, I suppose. We all seem to have some clutter somewhere in our lives that we could do without.

  27. posted by spark on

    Oh, (sorry for posting twice) but I also miss the Extreme Minimalist Monday features. I’m with Mer on that, what happened to them?

  28. posted by Daniel on

    Mechanical watches will always be more expensive to run than a battery watch; it costs over a hundred dollars to properly overhaul them every 4 or 5 years. It’s a good reason not to start.

    Still, I’d rather have a fine watch I can pass down to my kids than a disposable cell phone. πŸ™‚

    @infmom, watches usually advance the date if you wind the clock back and forth between 11pm and 1am. That should save on wear and tear.

  29. posted by infmom on

    @Daniel, depends on the watchmaker. Ours is a brilliant lady who doesn’t charge quite $100 yet. But even if it were over $100, several of my watches are fine quality and it’s worth every cent.

  30. posted by a on

    @Erin Doland, you are incorrect in your understanding of this product, it _is_ for winding automatic watches (it rotates the watch to keep the rotor moving) it does _not_ keep manual wind watches wound. Wolf Designs only sell winders for Automatic watches.

    Keeping a manual wind watch powered is much more complicated and the one* product (by orbita) that I am aware does this is many times more expensive

    * http://www.orbita.ch/e_produkte_details.asp?id=5

  31. posted by Michael G on

    I am a watch guy, but have limited my automatic watches (the ones wound by the body’s motion) to two that I actually wear so that I don’t have to get one of these winders, which do seem over the top. The watches do actually last longer, and need service left often if they are kept usually running to keep the oils from clumping up and separating as they do when not run often enough.

    I do have to chuckle though about how this looks to anyone outside watch geekdom. The display / winder is a bit much. And I certainly understand those of you who have decided to go without watches altogether.

    In our digiital, throw-away age though, I do enjoy having a little remnant of the ingenuity that went into things that were built to last; that took real craftsmanship to create and that, properly maintained, can be passed on to your kids (like in pulp fiction)

  32. posted by Super Old Guy on

    I bought one of these but my sundial wouldn’t fit inside.

    So you buy an expensive device to wind up an expensive watch that you can’t be bothered to wear or take care of your self?

    Unless you’re missing both of your thumbs this is as useless as a watch you don’t use. “I appreciate this fine timepiece so much that I can’t be bothered to wind it up”.

  33. posted by a on

    @super old guy, It is not being lazy, it is being practical. Those of us with many watches, especially those with multiple complications (perpetual calender, moon phases, etc) like to be able to pick out a watch at any time and wear it with out having to worry about having to set it correctly each time, remember most watches only have a power reserve of 2-3 days, which in the case of a number of complications can be very time consuming. Add into the mix that not all automatic wind watches can be manually wound, a winder becomes essential.

    Do I consider having multiple watches clutter, not really, all my watches get worn in rotation and depending on occasion and when you consider that all 12 can be stored in a display box that measures 356 x d: 210 x h: 86 mm and a winder 102 x dia: 102 x d: 140 mm. Ok well maybe the winder takes up a little more space than I would like… πŸ™‚

  34. posted by nakre on

    What an unnecessary piece if equipment, just as unnecessary as a wrist worn watch. Unclutter your life, buy a gold chain instead of an expensive watch to buy these silly man-toyz to show of in your “sports room”.

  35. posted by Bob Bobmore on

    Super Old Guy clearly doesn’t have a fine watch. The stem does not wind the watch, it only sets the time. The only way to wind a watch like this is to wear it, or have a winder that simulates the motion of wearing it.

    As for not wearing the watch enough to keep it wound, who would wear a $7K watch every day? Washing the dishes, mowing the lawn, etc. You don’t wear a pearl necklace to aerobics class, right? Same idea.

  36. posted by Andy on

    I’m an amateur watchmaker, so I’d like to weigh in on this unitasker.

    Many posters here said that this is useful because keeping a watch would is necessary to maintain the delicate mechanical movement. This is false. The best way to keep a movement in good shape is to let it wind down and keep it some place cool and dry (and dark, to preserve the dial). I have worked on 100 year old watches that still ran despite having sat in a shoebox for decades. If the watch runs, it will wear down the parts–wear on the automatic winder is common and is related directly to how much the watch moves whether worn or in a winder. As for the arguments that the oil needs to be moved around, that applies to cars, but not watches. The volume of oil in a watch is miniscule and is kept in place by capillary action. Movement neither helps nor hurts.

    These winders are useful for “complicated” watches with things like perpetual calendars (they know the month and day) or moonphase. They are hard to set, so keeping them running if you’re not wearing them for a few days is very convenient.

    But using a winder will wear down the watch faster than letting it sit.


  37. posted by Rob Lewis on

    Some have questioned why we need watches at all, especially these throwback mechanical ones. As an electronics and computer guy, I confess to a love of the beauty and precision of all those delicately orchestrated moving parts. As someone observed: mechanical watches have the unique quality of pathos: they’re never going to be as accurate and trouble-free as a digital watch, but it’s touching on some level to see them try SO HARD.
    For a fascinating story on the critical importance of accurate timekeeping for ocean navigation in a pre-electronic era, see the great book Longitude.

  38. posted by Angela on

    I have a watch winder, and it would be more of a nuisance to change the time and deal with taking it into get repaired. The watch winder gives me the option to wear different watches or not to wear one at all without worrying about my watch movement.

  39. posted by Alan on

    I agree with the previous comments. If you have a self-winding watch, you actually need something like this.

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