Collecting watches can be a rewarding pastime, not to mention a great way to stay accessorised to the nines, but every owner of automatic (self-winding) watches soon finds out that if you don’t keep them moving, they'll slow down and stop.
This is where watch winders come to the rescue. These boxes can act as storage solutions and display cases, but above all else, they rotate periodically to keep your watch’s power reserve topped up.
That way, no matter how long it is since you last wore a certain automatic watch, the winder will ensure it is topped up, at the right time, and ready to be worn.
A watch winder should feature a considered design that will serve to highlight your investment and suit your interiors.
Some watch winders can cost less than £50, while others, in the case of the beautiful Rapport Optima Time Capsule (opens in new tab), can be as expensive as the watches they contain.
For the best meeting between form, function and competitive pricing, our top pick comes from Wolf, in the form of their Cub Single Watch Winder.
Elsewhere, there are options for large collections (the 8-capacity Wolf Roadster) small spaces (the diminutive Perpetua II) and more besides to suit all kinds of collectors.
Are you travelling? Then you can still keep your watches in impeccable style with our best watch rolls and cases. Watch rolls won't keep your watches ticking, but they will protect them from scratches and damage.
If you're looking for specific watch-buying advice, then you should read T3's guide on the best watches under £1000 and the 5 best watches to invest in right now.
The best watch winders you can buy today:
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If you're looking for a single watch winder that exudes class and luxury, then I think the Cub by Wolf is your best option. It feels like a meticulously engineered piece of kit, with a sharp, faux-leather design.
It features a fine Saffiano finish and has a glass cover to keep dust off your pride and joy. The Cub comes in a number of colour options too, but my favourite is this stunning dark-green colourway. The watch winder is finished with chrome hardware and has a single winding setting.
Obviously, the Cub is the entry-level model of Wolf's range, with space for just one timepiece, so if you want a watch winder with a larger capacity then you'll have to look elsewhere in Wolf's range, or at the other options below.
The Barrington Single Winder is another favourite of mine. It's made from MDF but with an incredibly smooth gloss finish, the Barrington Single Winder is perfect if you own one automatic watch or if you're short on space. Inside is a Japanese motor which rotates almost silently, and is powered by either a mains plug or two AA batteries.
There are settings for the direction of rotation, as well as the number of turns per day. Knowing which setting is incredibly easy thanks to the Barrington Watch Database (opens in new tab), which suggests the best setting for your watch model.
There are seven colours to choose from, meaning it shouldn't have a problem fitting into your room, and, at a price of £125, I think it's tremendous value for money. Check out all the colours available on Barrington's website (opens in new tab).
If you're looking for a modern watch winder, this contemporary design from Rapport is beautifully created from carbon fibre and brushed aluminium. It features two bevelled glass panels on the upper lid, which is complemented with a luxurious grey velvet interior.
The watches are placed on luxe soft leather watch holders, each of which can be individually controlled for each individual watch's needs. The motor runs virtually silent and can be powered through the battery backup too. At 305 x 185 x 160mm, it's large, but not too imposing.
This is the best watch winder if you have a larger watch collection. It's designed to suit varied collections too – the sprung watch holders can carry all types of watches, from dinky to oversized, and it’s also able to simultaneously wind two watches on different settings – with pre-programmed sleep phases and intermittent rotations, no less.
It’s smart in more ways than one, too, with its faux leather casing and chrome hardware looking simple and sleek, and a glass front panel that allows you to keep an eye on things while showing off your favourite watches.
Wolf is one of our favourite watch winder brands too, and well respected, so I know this is a reliable and well-designed product.
If you've got a large watch collection, or like to wear a different watch every day of the week, then you need a serious watch winder. This Wolf Viceroy has space to store and maintain the precision of six watches. It's made from rich faux leather, which is great if you're vegan, with a glass cover and silk lining.
It can perform up to 1,200 turns per day and has a start delay of up to 72 hours so you can set it ahead of time. Each watch winder can be programmed individually, so it can suit all different watch needs. You can also keep everything secure with the integrated lock and key, although, the front is made from glass, so it's probably not that secure.
A leather-bound watch winder-meets-jewellery box might be enticing, but if a three grand price tag takes it out of the realms of accessibility, consider this dinky version instead. A testament to the old adage that good things come in small packages, it’s ideal if a single watch winder is all you need, with its practical small footprint and high-end-looking lacquered box made from solid walnut.
The low-voltage motor keeps things moving constantly and quietly on a choice of timed or fast modes, by DC adapter or batteries, making for a superbly versatile winder.
The only reason I'm not a fan of this watch is that the lid is opaque, which means you can't see your watch when it's in your winder. I personally like my watch to be on display, but if you prefer something a little more discreet, or have a vintage watch that might fade in the sun, then this is a great option.
With winders for three watches and storage for five more, this really is a winder for the watch obsessive. Those of us not blessed with arms like Mr Tickle are never going to be able to wear eight watches at once, so this is a great way to keep a good-sized collection in steady rotation and ready to go.
The whisper-quiet operation is really impressive and it's really easy to set up with the correct rotation settings. It features a handy protective delay start function to guard against over-winding, and winders are solid enough to handle even the heaviest, oversized, luxury watches.
Yes, we appreciate that spending over £2,000 / $2,300 on a device purely to keep your watch wound up is a bit excessive, but would you just look at this winder from Rapport?! The London Optima Time Capsule shares its mechanical design with the luxury watches it will no doubt contain, complete with metal cogs nestled behind a beautiful cylindrical glass.
With stainless steel controls which look like they come from a vintage record player, the Optima Time Capsule offers multiple winding modes for different watches. Quite simply, it's stunning, and is the perfect addition to an uber-luxe dressing room.
If you’re the kind of collector for whom presentation is everything, you’ll likely want to go all out when it comes to finding something that your prized watches will be spending a lot of time in. Luckily for all of us, that doesn’t always mean going all out on price, and while this wooden watch box looks like it could have been plucked from the window of an upmarket jeweller, it comes in at just shy of £100 / $120.
Despite its low cost, it comes complete with a silent motor, easy operation and an impressive array of settings. I think it's superb value – just don't expect the same level of luxury you'll get from Wolf or Rapport.
While most people associate automatic watches with the likes of Rolex, there are many self-winding timepieces which cost significantly less. You've got the likes of Seiko, Hamilton, Tissot, and many microbrands. It makes sense that buyers of these watches may want a winding case which is more affordable than something from Rapport or Wolf, i.e. not something that costs more than the watch itself.
This wooden winder and display case from Uten has a compact design, but offers space for two watches to be wound simultaneously. The winder rotates for two minutes, pauses for six minutes, then rotates in the opposite direction for two minutes. It's just a shame this doesn't have more rotation settings, but you can't complain when the winder is this affordable.
Stackers is a company that creates stackable jewellery and watch boxes, and also now offers a stylish watch winder. Borrowing a similar design as its other products, which I really like, the cuboid watch winder holds a single timepiece and is available in black or brown (although stock levels are low at the time of writing).
The winder can be plugged into the mains or powered with AA batteries. A pair of control knobs on the front let you set how the winder works. It turns your watch 600 times per day, and has three rotation settings to pick from (clockwise, anticlockwise or bi-directional). The level of quietness is also very impressive – so it shouldn't disturb you if kept in the bedroom.
For those on a tighter budget, this watch winder by Jane Choi and available on Amazon represents amazing value for money, at just £25/$28. The watch winder can hold a single timepiece on an adjustable pillow, and unlike some other options, it includes a protective display window to ward off dust.
The winder can be powered using the included mains plug or with a pair of AA batteries. The winder turns in one direction for two minutes, then pauses for six minutes before turning in the opposite direction for two minutes.
Finally, a watch winder for those who definitely aren't on a tight budget. This carbon fibre winder by Aevitas has space for six watches and is controlled by a touchscreen display. Each winder is powered by a smooth and quiet brushless motor, and the display can be used to set a different rotation mode for each of the six winders.
Mains powered and with optional LED lighting, the winder box has a display window for protecting your watches from dust, and I really find the separate storage drawer at the top useful, as it can be used for other items like jewellery or watches that don't require rotation.
How we test the best watch winders
When we review a watch winder the process is fairly simple. First, we assess the watch winder's design, whether it looks good, what materials it's made from and whether it feels robust and well-made. This is an important consideration, because ultimately a watch winder is a luxury purchase, and if you want it to display your pride and joy then you'll want it to be attractive.
Then we'll look at how practical it is, whether the watch cushion feels secure and how easy it is to dial in the correct settings.
Finally, we'll look at how the watch winder operates, how quiet it is, how long the batteries last, whether it's smooth and what functions it offers.
Got your watch winder sorted? Now check out the best watches to invest in.