It's a good question. Winders aren't cheap and I've had many questions from people asking just this question - Do I need one? Well, there are a few compelling reasons why you should purchase a winder for your automatic watch.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider buying a watch winder.
I once bought a Breitling Chronomat brand new from a jeweler in Australia. It ran perfectly ok for a few days then...stopped! On examination I found that the watch mechanism was somewhat gunged up with old and stale lubricant. The problem here was that the watch had obviously sat in the jewelers store for months on end without being wound at all. This in turn led to the lubricant sitting and gradually forming into a sort of thick mass, which obviously didn't do much for the mechanics of the watch. If the watch had been worn or even wound occasionally, the lubricant would have maintained its fluid nature and the watch would have been working fine. So in this case, not having a winder caused this problem.
Automatic watches are designed to be just that - automatic. So they are not designed to be continuously wound, day after day. Winding any watch causes stress and wear, but even more so on an automatic watch. Perpetuals should (in my opinion) never be allowed to stop running. Screw down crowns have a tendency to wear and will eventually be a source of leakage if you wear your watch in the water. So for automatic watches a winder is the perfect solution that will keep your watch in good working order throughout its life.
Everything you buy is available in different qualities, it doesn't just apply to watch winders. From the case material to the internal workings, you basically pay for what you like the look of and what it does. There are some very well priced examples of watch winders that perform the task in a satisfactory manner, and yet if you want to you can spend 10 times as much for a product that essentially performs the same task.
Having said that, the reason they are generally expensive is because of supply and demand. The demand for watch winders isn't quite the same as for say, a quartz watch, so in order to make a profit a higher than usual profit margin applies to these goods.
If you find that you cannot for some reason, wear your automatic wristwatch every day and you find yourself winding it on a frequent basis, then I would say it would be a reasonable investment, given that any high-grade timepiece is probably worth a fair amount of money. A client recently paid $500 to have his automatic watch serviced - something that would probably not have needed doing if the watch had been worn daily.
So personally I would not be without them, they eventually pay for themselves and keep my watches in good working order for years, without the need for unnecessary servicing and expense.
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