What is your favorite piece of jewelry and why?
I’m a watch person. A lot of people do not consider watches as jewelry, although I would beg to differ, especially if you have a gold or platinum watch. I like them because they are functional pieces of jewelry.
How have watches changed since you got into the business?
Watches have changed drastically since I started. I got into the business in the ’80s, around the time when battery watches were becoming popular. Back then, people were wowed by every new quartz innovation that was coming out. Today, it’s going back the other way, and people now want better-looking mechanical watches.
Aren’t there different types of mechanical watches?
Yes, there are. The first type you might recognize as the watch your father or grandfather owned. You have to wind the watch manually every day to keep the proper time. Inside, there is a spring that is wound, just like in a wind-up toy, and it runs for a certain time period, usually 24–36 hours.
The second type is called “self-winding” or what is more commonly known as an “automatic” watch. These watches have a mechanical rotor that spins and winds your watch as you move around. The theory is that as long as you are wearing the watch, the spring will stay wound.
When you set it down, the spring inside keeps functioning for approximately 36–48 hours, depending on the make and model. Theoretically, you can take off your watch each night, put it back on in the morning, and it will still have the correct time.
If you have an automatic watch and you don’t wear it for a couple of days, it will probably need to be wound and the time reset.
So, is there a way to keep an automatic watch running all the time?
Well, years ago the industry came out with watch winders. This is a battery- or plug-in-powered mechanical box with a mechanism that slowly moves your watch, thereby keeping the spring wound and your watch on time.
What do you think about watch winders?
I often explain watch winders like this: In the winter, when it’s cold, you turn on your car so that it’s warm when you get in. Why not just leave your car running all the time, so that it’s warm and ready for whenever you are ready to use it?
Sounds a little silly, right? We understand that if your car is always running, it’s not good for the vehicle because you’re putting wear and tear on the engine. Well, watch winders follow that same theory.
You may not wear your automatic watch for a week, a month, even six months, but it’s being wound the whole time. Because it’s winding, it’s running, and a watch that’s running is being subjected to wear and tear because it has no downtime. You’re putting “mileage” on your watch without the benefits of using your watch. All to save a little time from having to reset the watch? For me, it’s not worth it.
The only time I think a watch winder is mandatory is if you have an ultra-expensive, complicated watch. You know, those watches that tell you the lunar phases or the position of the stars and planets. If that watch stops, you’ll need a Ph.D. to reset it or have to send the watch to the manufacturer. When you have a watch like that, then a watch winder is almost mandatory to keep it in working order.
About the Author
Stephen Thornton is the Marketing Assistant at The Provident Loan Society.