Watch roll vs watch winder: what's the difference?

Two types of watch storage, but which is best for you?

watch roll vs watch winder
(Image credit: Bennett Winch / Aevitas)

If you've just started a watch collection you'll probably be looking at ways to store your precious pieces. Hours of research will come down to two options – one of the best watch rolls or one of the best watch winders.

Both are great options, although one will be better depending on what you're planning to do with your watches. Luckily, we're here to help you decide which watch storage solution is best for you, with an in-depth article that will look at their design, levels of protection, and use cases.

So, without further ado, these are the differences between a watch roll and watch winder.

Watch roll

(Image credit: Bennett Winch)

Watch roll vs watch winder: use

The first difference between these two types of watch storage is how they're used. Watch rolls are primarily designed for travel, they're small, compact and offer enough protection for your watches when they're thrown into a suitcase.

Of course, watch rolls can also be used to store your watches at home, and will stop them banging together in your sock drawer.

Watch winders are, on the other hand, designed primarily for use at home. Winders contain a small motor which rotates your watch at set intervals. This keeps the power reserve topped up and your watch ticking away, keeping time and ready for you to pick it up and put it on at a moment's notice.

Dulwich watch winder

(Image credit: Dulwich)

Watch roll vs watch winder: design and protection

Watch winders, with a few exceptions, tend to be rectangular boxes with your watch sitting around a cushion on the vertical face of the winder. There are several size options, with winders capable of accommodating one, two, three, four, or even 10+ watches.

There are also some watch winders which are works of art and engineering in their own right, such as the Rapport London Optima Time Capsule Watch Winder, which is crafted from chrome-plated aluminium and panelled with glass.

Most watch winders are quite large, so you won't want to take them travelling with you, but they're designed to look great sitting on a desk, bedside table or vanity table.

As previously mentioned, your watch is placed around a cushion which clips into the winder. They'll protect your watch from dust and stop it from getting bashed around on your dresser (which it might do if it was loose).

Watch rolls come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the most common is a leather or canvas wrap. These contains pouches for around five watches. You place your watches inside the pouches, then wrap them up and tie the watch roll together with a drawstring.

This is a fairly primitive method of watch storage, and we certainly wouldn't recommend it for expensive or vintage timepieces, as the pouches do keep watches separate and stop them from scratching together, but other than that offer very little protection.

If you want more protection when travelling, then you'll probably want to consider a watch case, which has a hard shell and space for around three or four watches. These are usually clad in leather for more luxurious options, or plastic for a more affordable travel solution.

Watch roll

(Image credit: Bamford)

Watch roll vs watch winder: verdict

Whether you buy a watch roll or watch winder really depends on what you're planning on using it for. If you're travelling then you'll want a watch roll or case, as they're compact and offer great protection. They're also useful for home storage, as long as you don't mind having to wind your automatic watches before putting them on. 

Watch winders on the other hand will keep your automatic watches perfectly in-sync and ready for you to wear at a moment's notice, they're ideal if you have multiple automatic watches in your collection and want the display them proudly at home.

Interested in more? Check out some of our other luxury watches content:

Best watch roll: protect your watches with these rolls and cases

5 reasons you should own a watch roll

Best watch winders: keep your timepiece ticking away

How to clean a luxury watch: 3 easy steps to keep your timepiece gleaming

Best watches for men: T3's ultimate guide to watches

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.

With contributions from