Hello and welcome, if you’re reading this blog article the chances are you have recently purchased an automatic watch and you have heard of this mysterious contraption known as the automatic watch winder, and you are here to understand what it is, how it works, and how it can keep your automatic watch running flawlessly.

Well, look no further as in this comprehensive article we will discover – The History of the watch winder, How a watch winder functions, and 4 reasons why you potentially need one.

The History of the watch winder


In order to explain how the watch winder came to be, it is first important to explain a brief history of the automatic watch, and the man who invented both automatic watch and watch winder John Hardwood.

John Hardwood was born 1893 in Bolton, Lancashire. During the first world war he served as an armoury staff sergeant. After his service he went on to work as an apprentice watch maker with Hirst Brothers and Co of Oldham.

In 1922 on the Isle Of Man he discovered that the main issues he was facing that was impacting the reliability of the watches he was repairing, were mainly focused around Dust and Moisture finding their way into the watch movement.

 It is because of this that he began working on a different kind of winding and hand-setting mechanism, without the need for an opening in the watch case for the winding stem.

One day he came up with this revolutionary idea of a self-winding mechanism while observing children playing on a see-saw, As he watched them play, he was able to envisage how the accumulated kinetic energy of tension on the spring of a wristwatch was similar to the children’s motion on the see – saw.

After a number of experiments, he was able to put together a prototype of a self-winding wristwatch from the remnants and parts of a discarded pocket watch, There was no winding crown and the way the hands were set was by rotating a milled bezel, which was also used to wind the mechanism. A coloured dot, appeared in the dial aperture above the “6” to show that the mechanism was running correctly.

John Hardwood then travelled to Switzerland, as it was there, he thought he would have the best chance of making his invention a reality. 1ST September 1924 the Swiss Confederation in Berne awarded him Patent No. 10 65 83 for his invention, the first self-winding wristwatch -The HARDWOOD Automatic.

Which relied upon what’s known as a hammer movement with pawls and clockwork and a pivoted oscillating weight that moved to and from through an arc of 270° hitting buffer springs on both sides.

The HARWOOD Automatic was presented at the Basel Trade Fair in 1926, originally marketed towards men it quickly became evident however that the ladies of the time liked this new timepiece immensely and with an ever-faster paced lifestyle wanted to make use of this new invention also.

In 1928 John Hardwood set up the Harwood Self-Winding Watch Company with the purpose of marketing the watches in the UK However in September 1931, the company failed as a result of not having sufficient funding to withstand the effects of the Great Depression.

The Hardwood Automatic

John Hardwoods mechanism would come under threat from none other than Rolex as there appeared to be some confusion about who had actually invented the automatic watch first.

However, in 1956 Rolex apologised to Hardwood acknowledging fully that he was in fact the inventor, and went on to issue a portrait of John Hardwood in future publications.

Even though John Hardwood invented the automatic watch, Rolex improved upon his original design with the rotor movement with its 360° unidirectional winding, This rotor movement was first used in the Rolex Oyster Perpetuals.

Creation Of The Watch Winder

Now we finally come around to the creation of the watch winder itself, which was initially invented by you guessed it … John Harwood.

He done this so potential customers could see that his automatic movement did indeed work. This first ever watch winder held a total of twelve watches, and after some time, jewellery stores started displaying automatic watches on this new invention to show the quality of the newest automatic watches to customers in their storefronts.

How A Watch Winder Works

In a nutshell a watch winder functions by rotating your watch in various different directions, with a given number of turns per day (TPD), for a set period of time.

There will also be a set number of pauses programmed in at certain intervals. The length of the pauses can also be programmed. These movements allow the automatic mechanism within the watch to oscillate in various directions, as a result the weights inside the mechanism begin to store up energy, this in turn is used to keep the gears turning.

The mechanism is designed with a slipping clutch that prevents the mainspring from being overwound, mainspring is fully wound.

4 REASONS Why you Potentially Need A Watch Winder

Whether or not you actually need a watch winder is a bit of a contested topic in the watch enthusiast community, however I believe there are more arguments in favour of the use of watch winders than against.

Below I have made a comprehensive analysis of the potential Pro’s & Con’s,  so you can make your own mind up whether a watch winder is best suited for your induvial needs.

Firstly, I’m going to start by saying, if you own a singular automatic watch that you wear regularly, say every day or every other day, you probably don’t need a watch winder in regards to keeping the watch ticking when you’re not using it, as most modern automatic watches have a power reserve between 30 to 40 hours.

You could also get away with alternating between 2 automatic watches as the power reserve probably will keep one watch ticking over while you wear the other.

However, below are 4 scenarios where an automatic watch will definitely come in useful –

1) If you have multiple automatic watches and want to keep them all in a constant ready state so you can just grab one out of your rotation and go without the hassle of winding it up and setting the date and time.

2) There are some watches that come with so many complications by which I mean, any function on a watch other than the display of the time, for example Moonphase or a Perpetual calendar. In this case it would definitely be in your interest to keep these wound as it would take a lot of time and effort to reset these right before you were about to leave the house.

3) Whether you have one watch or several a watch winder can also be a secure way to display your expensive timepieces and keep them out of harm’s way, while simultaneously being able to admire them from across the room in all their glory. Some larger watch winders even have compartments for accessories, such as jewellery or pens


4) There are also options available where the watch winders themselves are built directly into a safe, this way you can keep all your valuables together in one secure place and simultaneously keep your watches wound, this option however is by far the most expensive way of doing things and will only suit the needs of certain individuals.

So, in summery watch winders are by no means an absolute necessity of watch ownership. However in my opinion they do serve their purpose even if you only have one watch, as it keeps the watch displayed securely, and if you so desired you could make the watch winder a real centre piece of your desk or living space depending on the size of you winder and quantity of watches.

If your interested in picking up a winder you can checkout our selection by Clicking  HERE

If you would like help and advice from a trusted knowledgeable source, I would suggest heading over to the WATCHUSEEK community forums by clicking > HERE

 Over on the  WATCHUSEEK community forums, many watch enthusiasts will be able to give you help and advice on a range of topics, and point you in the right direction. 


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