Repairing a watch winder

Repairing a watch winder

Watch winders, especially those that are very cheap and not from reputable brands, sometimes stop working! If you’ve ever had a watch winder that’s broken, or stopped turning, you will understand the frustration that this can cause and have probably wondered how to repair a watch winder.

Not all is lost in this situation. You might be able to do some repairs yourself. Repairing a watch winder is not as difficult as you might first think. You can pick up replacement parts very cheap and, once you’ve diagnosed the problem, repairing the watch winder yourself can be a very cost-effective method to get your watches turning again!

So, if you have a watch winder that’s not working, read on to find out how to repair the winder.

Why might you repair a watch winder?

Watch winders can be very expensive. So, if your winder has stopped working, buying a whole new winder may not be possible and certainly not the best use of your money.

Some exclusive watch winders are only made for a certain period and may no longer be available. So, you might have a winder that’s no longer available to buy. But, you might have a real affinity for it (it might have been given to you) and want to keep it.

Therefore, at least trying to fix it might be a better option than to throw it away and get a different one.

Also, some people just really enjoy repairing things. So they’ll like the challenge and the toil of diagnosing the problem, taking the device apart, replacing the parts, and putting it back together and seeing it work like new.

In addition, repairing a watch winder is a more sustainable choice, and stops you getting caught up in the throw-away culture that pervades the consumer world.

Why you might not want to repair your winder

You do need to be careful if you’re planning on repairing your own winder. Some watch winders come with a warranty that mean they can be sent back to the manufacturer for repair at now cost.

So, always always check if your winder is still within this warranty. Any repairs that you attempt to make on the winder could invalidate this warranty, so always check this first.

How to tell if your watch winder needs repairing

There are a few signs that could tell you that your watch winder is broken and needs repairing. Below, we outline some of the more common problems you might find with your watch winder.

Watch winder is turning too slowly

If your watch winder cushions are starting to turn much slower than before, this could be a sign that the motor is starting to get worn out.

However, be aware that a much heavier watch could cause the winder to turn slower. So, if you’ve recently changed the watch that’s being used on the winder, this could be the cause of a slow-turning winder and might mean you need to upgrade the winder to something more suited to a big, heavy watch.

Starting to make a much louder noise

Most good-quality watch winder motors are very quiet or almost silent. However, after long periods of constant use, you might experience the motors starting to become louder.

They might be making a grinding sound, or have a laboured whirring noise. These are all signs that the motor might be close to wearing out or breaking.

Not keeping the watch charged (watch is losing time)

If you find that your watch is not keeping its charge, especially after spending time on the watch winder, this could be a sign that the watch winder, or the motor, is starting to run down.

This is usually a symptom of the motor starting to turn more slowly, although this could be very subtle and you might not notice it. However, you are far more likely to notice the watch losing time.

The cushions stop turning completely

Now, if the watch cushions have stopped turning completely, there is a good chance that something has broken inside the watch winder. It’s likely that one of the following two scenarios is true for your winder:

  • You can still heat the motor turning but the cushions are not turning
  • The motor is silent and not turning. 

Below, we’ll talk about what the likely issues are in these two situations and what you can do about this.

How to check if the watch winder is broken

There are a few steps you should take if your watch winder appears to be broken. Firstly, you need to test the different power sources. 

So, first remove the batteries and plug the winder in to the mains and test to see if it works when plugged in.

Then unplug the winder and insert working charged batteries and test the winder using just the batteries.

This should tell you if the fault is actually with the motors, or if the fault lies with the power cord or batteries.

What to do if the winder is broken

So, assuming the fault is inside the winder, there are a couple of different things likely to be broken inside the winder:

Broken belt drives

If you can still hear the motor running but the watch cushions are no longer turning, there’s a high likelihood that it’s the belt drives that are broken. These can be replaced easily and cheaply

Broken motor

Now, if you can’t hear the motor running and the cushions aren’t turning, then the fault is likely to be with the whole motor itself. Again, this can also be replaced without having to replace the whole watch winder

In both of these scenarios, you can buy replacement parts and fit them yourself.

Where to buy the watch winder replacement parts

For the motors, we’d recommend contacting the original supplier or manufacturer of your watch winder. Most will allow you to order just the motor. This ensures it’s the correct motor for your winder.

However, note that, if you go solo and look for a motor on your own, you may be able to find one that performs better (is quieter) than the manufacturer-supplied one. In this case, be sure to ask the manufacturer for the specifications of the motor and look for one that has the same spec. Typically, you’ll need to check the rating (kW of the motor), the rotations per minute (RPM) and the shaft output length. 

You can find motors for watch winder on Alibaba or ebay.

Mabuchi motors for watch winders are really popular. Most mid-level winders have these in them.

Nichibo motors may be a better option, as they are a little quieter than the mabuchi ones. These motors have been used specifically in a watch winder (12V AC, 12 mm output shaft length, 2100 rpm).

For replacement drive belts for watch winders, you can find some on amazon. However, you should measure the drive belts that are broken (diameter) and make sure you order the correct size rubber drive belts. Note, these are sometimes called O-rings, so be sure to search for both.

If you can’t find the replacement parts for a watch winder, another good option is to look on a second-hand marketplace for the same model of winder that you can use for replacement parts. Typically, you can pay up to 70% less for a second-hand watch winder, so you should be able to find a good deal (assuming you can find the right make and model, of course).

What tools will you need to repair your watch winder

You may also need to buy a small set of flat-head rt cross-head type screwdrivers to help you remove the side and back panels of the winder. You can get a small set of these at a fairly good price. You could specifically opt for watchmakers screwdrivers, which could help you deal with ant very small screws in the winder box.

Steps to fix the watch winder

Now, you’ve diagnosed the problem, you’ve got the tools and the replacement parts. Then next stage is to get your hands dirty and start the repair.

  1. Check that the winder is no longer under warranty (you should have already done this bit).
  2. Unplug the winder completely and remove batteries.
  3. Carefully remove the watch winder sides or back. Depending on the winder brand, you may be able to unscrew the side or back panels using your screwdriver. However, you may need to pop off the panels using a flat implement. For some brands, you may get inside the winder through the internal watch holder, instead of the external side or back panels.
  4. Once opened, you should now be able to see the watch winder motors and electric parts.
  5. If you need to replace the motor:
    • You will need to completely unattach the motor or motors
    • Replace the old motor with a new one and solder it into place.
    • You may need to cut the shaft to size if the one you’ve bought is the wrong length
    • Replace the back/sides or internal winder bed
  6. If you need to replace the drive belt(s):
    • Unscrew the motors to see the gears and rubber belt drives
    • Replace the belt drives with the new one(s) and re-screw the motor together
    • Replace the back/sides or internal winder bed

What if I can’t do it myself

If you are not confident of fixing this yourself, or you can’t find the right replacement parts there are other options.

You could look for a local service that can fix the watch winder for you. Or you could send the winder off to a professional watch winder repair service. A good example of this is the repair service provided by Aevitas. They can service your watch winder or they can fix it directly if you have a specific issue. We’d recommend you getting in touch with them here first to discuss the best repair option available to you.

Or, maybe it’s time to upgrade to a better quality winder that will last. In that case, search this site for recommended winders that should suit all needs.