When looking for the best budget watch winders around you have to not only take into consideration price but how long the winder will last and of course how well it winds your watch. That last part might make you laugh if you have watched a winder working, but trust me, it is not as simple as it might seem.
All winders do not just simply rotate continuously, they often pause, only wind for a certain amount of time per day, alternate the direction of rotation, and much more. Keeping your watch properly wound is almost an art form. Many winders even allow you to control several of the actions of the winder so better suit your specific watch. Let’s take a look at a few.
The first one on my list is the CHIYODA Single Wooden Watch Winder which happens to currently be Amazon’s Choice for watch winders. I am not sure how they make their choice, but I put this winder on my list as more of a cautionary tale than a recommendation.
What I like about this winder is that it is indeed cheap, and it is pretty quiet as their ad states. It also runs off either batteries or AC power, has plenty of controls for adjustments of the winding pattern, has reasonably good hinges, comes in two finishes and looks pretty nice for the price.
What I don’t like is that these have an extremely high failure rate and have a ton of reviews where people could not contact the company for warranty service.
Disassembling the unit shows you why there are probably so many issues as the materials used are absolutely the lightest, cheapest, and smallest they could find to make the product functional long enough to get them off the shelves. Some of the wires looked like dental floss.
If you have to have the cheapest watch winder out there that usually works, this is it. But don’t be swayed by the high review count and Amazon putting their “Amazon’s Choice” tag on it, the winder is just not reliable and certainly is not one of the best budget watch winders you can get.
The next winder is somewhat of a surprise for me, the Versa Automatic Double Watch Winder in Black. I honestly expected this to be just like the winder above since it does two watches for just a little more money than the CHIYODA. I mean really, two Chinese winders at virtually the same price point, one that does one and one that does two watches? What came next blew me away and earned it a spot on the best budget watch winders list.
I have a Versa watch winder currently on my shelf that I bought seven years ago, and it has been running on that shelf the entire time. All of the other cheap winders I have bought before and after this one have failed, but this thing just won’t stop. To make it more interesting, after a few years this became my go-to recommendation to people who wanted a budget winder, and I have not had a single person tell me they were not pleased with the purchase. In fact, in five years of recommending this winder, only a couple of people have told me theirs quit and they replaced them with the same winder.
Now it isn’t all roses, as you would expect, there are some issues. Let’s start by how I think they made a winder that seems to work for so long, they made other sacrifices.
The plastic this thing is made from is pretty cheap and just dull and boring. It is probably the most drab winder in existence as they spent absolutely no effort on aesthetics. The door doesn’t really close so much as it just flips one direction or the other. The watch “pillows” are adjustable hard plastic things that would only be called pillows by someone who doesn’t actually know what a pillow is. It can not run off batteries like the others on this list so it can not be used as a travel watch winder. And the settings on the back are about as accurate as William Tell after a fifth of Scotch, blindfolded.
But here’s the thing, I bought it to wind my watches, not to look pretty or dance the jig, and as for the settings I don’t really care if it says 650 tpd and it actually is 738 tpd so long as my watch is wound and ready when I reach for it. And guess what? It is.
Maybe I got lucky, maybe you won’t, but if mine dies I will not hesitate even a minute replacing it with the same thing hoping I get another seven or more years out of a $60 winder. Another cool thing, they make the same winder in a four watch model although I have not tried it personally it seems to be the same thing.
In my opinion, this really is one of the best budget watch winders available.
Now we come to the entry-level of the serious watch winders, the Cub Single Automatic Watch Winder by Wolf. While a lot of people might not consider this a budget winder, I have to disagree. It is all about what your budget is, and coming in at under $200 for a Wolf winder is indeed a good deal.
Wolf was founded in 1834 and currently has main offices in the US, UK, and Hong Kong. This is not some fly by night factory in China that won’t be there next week when you need warranty work. Speaking of warranty, these offer two-year manufacturer warranties and from what I hear, they really stand behind their product well. I have been lucky enough to not need warranty services from Wolf. Wolf watch winders are the gold standard of winders.
Their products are made from very high-quality components, are reliable, and accurate. While virtually all winders estimate the number of turns per day, Wolf winders actually count them. They will also wind larger and heavier watches without getting noisy, or just failing to work at all like some of the cheap Chinese models do.
I also like the different colors this winder is available in, ensuring that no matter where you put it, or what decor you want it to match, there is something for you.
The downside here is that since the Cub series are Wolf’s entry-level winder, they are not adjustable and are preset to 900 tpd and bidirectional rotation. This means there may be a watch it does not wind correctly. Honestly, I have never met that watch, but it is completely possible.
My recommendation is that if you are like most people who don’t own watches that cost over a few hundred dollars each, try out the Versa winders. If on the other hand, you have some more expensive watches like higher-end Omega, Rolex, and Girard-Perregaux, go for the Wolf. Either one is one of the best budget watch winders you can get for the money.