Watchwinders


Here is the follow-up video review to the original Barrington Watch Winder Review, so you guys can see the watch winder in action. Its a very nicely made piece of kit with great features, but you don’t need to read about it.. just watch the video!

Barrington Watch Winders is a British watch winder company founded in 2009 with the mandate of bringing an affordable watch winder to the masses that also looks good. I’ve handled several different brands of watch winders, and have noticed that there is a huge gap in the quality of entry level winders and good winders, with nothing in-between. Barrington seeks to fill that gap.

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The Barrington Single watch winder comes in a handsome high-gloss lacquered wood case, and in a variety of colors. I selected the Black one since it doesn’t stand out too much and won’t offend anyone, though some of their more colorful options do look kind of cool. Given their price, they would seem to directly compete with brands like Wolf Designs and Spin-R – at least their entry models.

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The Barrington logo is printed on the side of the case, and is nice and low-key, which is nice. Most of my other winders barely even have a visible logo which is nice and classy. Don’t need it printed all over like Louis Vuitton monogram, do we? 🙂 The watch winder is also lighter than it looks to me. The wood is not particularly thick, so it seems light. It also seems quite large considering there is only AA batteries inside it. Most logic PCBs I have seen for watch winders are quite small, so I’m not sure if the size was arbitrary or determined by necessity such as counter-balancing weight of the watch.

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The back is pretty straightforward as you can see. There is a battery compartment at the top where you can insert two AA batteries and run the winder without an AC adapter. The battery life can depend on various conditions such as the weight of the watch, the TPD (times per day) setting and the type of batteries, but I am told that you can expect a good pair of batteries to last a month under normal settings and watch weights. This isn’t spectacular but not bad for a couple of AA batteries, and it is certainly nice to have the option of going wireless.

I’m also told that it would be prudent to remove the batteries if you are using the AC adapter since the batteries may have slight parasitic draw while it is plugged in between cycles. You also have a choice of AC Adapter as well for European and North American buyers.

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Here’s where this winder shines above the rest in terms of features: The control panel. The Barrington Single Watch winder provides more programmable options than most winders in this price range and even above. Many winders will give only a single option of TPD or Direction, or sometimes they only offer a few choices, but Barrington goes the extra mile here to make sure that you can really tweak your winding experience. They offer TPD from 650 all the way to 1950, and clockwise, counter-clockwise as well as both for winding. This is a very nice set of features. They are adjusted by turning the click knobs that are mounted on a nice mirrored plate, which is quite attractive.

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In action, the winder is whisper quiet, probably among the quietest winders I’ve owned, and the LED only goes on when it is winding and turns off between cycles. I personally would have designed the LED to be constantly on when it is turned on, since you can always tell that it is winding by simply looking at the winder itself, but you can’t tell if its on between cycles without looking at the back, but that’s just one man’s opinion!

The cushion snaps into place using two flared plastic handles, which is similar to several other winders out there. The fabric used on the cushion is a faux carbon fiber, which looks modern and matches the design of the winders well IMO.

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Just wanted to show that they used the faux carbon fiber fabric inside the winder as well, which is sort of a nice touch.

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Here is the shot of the cushion that inserts into the winder. As you can see it has a spring loaded backpiece that compresses and clicks in if you are on the smaller side of the size spectrum. This is the normal sized model, and not the small cushion version. I didn’t measure my wrists before ordering but I probably should have as this model is ever so slightly too big for my watches and while they will still close around the cushion, it is VERY tight. I have a 17.5cm wrist (6.75″) so that could be used as a way to determine which winder size you need. Their website states 20.5cm as the smallest size for the regular sized winders so I am off by 3cm!

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Here is the cushion with my AP Royal Oak on it, super tight! But you can see how it fits. I could always adjust the deployant strap to a larger hole in order to make it fit the winder better, but this can’t be done easily with a bracelet watch. I tested out the winder with a variety of watches, some quite heavy and it seems to do very well. The motor doesn’t seems to strain, and its been quiet for the couple days I have had it running which is a good sign. I have seen some cheap watch winders work great right in the beginning especially if no watch is in it, and then they start grinding and struggling when you put something heavy like a Panerai in it… speaking of which:

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There she is in action with my Panerai PAM288 in it, doing a fine job of winding it. In summary, I think this is a solid buy especially if you’re looking for a wood finished winder in this price range, since there are very few, if any, wood finished winders in this price range. I can’t comment on the longevity of the winder, but Barrington claims ultra-quiet Japanese motors. I can attest to the ultra-quiet part and the Japanese make very good electric motors. The cushion isn’t my favourite, and I generally prefer fully soft cushions like those used in the Orbita Sparta winders, but it seems to do a decent job and has a wide range of fit. Keep in mind that you might need the small cushion winder if you have a wrist under 7″ around. I really like the multitude of programming options and the option to use AA batteries as well as AC power.

Specs:
· Measures just 11cm x 11cm x 15cm
· Can be operated either by AC mains or two AA batteries.
· Ultra-quiet Japanese motor
· Multiple rotation settings: clockwise, counterclockwise or alternating
· Multiple Turns Per day (TPD) settings from 650, 750, 850 or 1,000 to suit any weight of watch
· Adjustable cushion is suitable for watches with a strap/bracelet circumference of 20.5cm to 24cm (for watches with a smaller band see our Small Cushion winder here)
· LED light when operating
· Comes with British 3 pin power adapter as standard (European or US available on request)
MSRP: £99

See the complete line of Barrington single watch winders

I was thinking it was about time that I reviewed a Wolf Designs winder. I think the Wolf Designs winders are some of the best bang for buck winders out there and I know several people that have them. They are affordable, well-made, look great, and have good response and customer service from what I’ve heard. Their pricepoint makes them easily affordable and much better than the plastic stuff that is out there.

The Module 2.5 Single is a basic model with no cover to protect from dust. This is important to some people, and less important to others. The outside of the winder is a leatherette, with the inside portions made from “silk fabric”. While it doesn’t feel like silk to me, it is nice to the touch. The winder has a single control on the front allowing you to switch between A (Clockwise), B (Counter-Clockwise) & C (Bi-Directional). The winder is pre-set to 900 TPD, which is just the right amount for most single directional winding movements such as the Valjoux 7750.

There is also a green light on the metal front control. From Wolf Designs Website: “A green light indicates normal winder operation. A red light indicates either low battery power or that the drum is incorrectly turning.” The winder is interesting in that it runs through a cycle of charging up the mainspring, and then into a sleep cycle for 18 hours to allow the mainspring to unwind and discharge stored up energy, which is supposedly better for you watch. Operation is almost completely silent, but with the 18 hour sleep cycle, you can time it to be sleeping when you are!

The cuff locked in and can hold a watch with a strap size of up to 10″! That’s definately most people out there. The cuff compresses via a spring inside. When pushed in, the cuff clicks into place and holds the watch firmly. I have heard of some people having problems with the cuffs not staying in after a while with heavier watches, but that the Wolf Designs customer service fixed the problems quickly and easily when it happened.

There’s the butt-shot! As you can see, a compartment for D-Cell batteries as well as a jack for the AC Adapter. They recommend Lithium batteries as they last twice as long as Alkaline. The watch runs great with the AC Adapter and that’s what I use, however, with Batteries the winder can be put inside a safe as well and kept running, also a nice feature.

Overall its a good bang for buck winder with better-than-basic features and superior build quality. The interior structure of the winder is wood-framed, and the electronics do use fairly sohpisticated timing systems compared to basic winders. Wolf Designs sells these for $195 at regular price and occasionally a deal can be had.

I blogged about Orbita’s Customer Service before and how great it was, and one again, they are still coming through. Cheryl, who was the nice lady I dealt with before from Orbita, was the same one I dealt with last time when I emailed them about one of my motors failing. I emailed her again when my Uncle was interested in purchasing one of the Red Sparta Executive Winders on their website for $400, which is $600 off their MSRP price of $1000. It is a beautiful winder, with the same attention to detail as all Orbita products.

Unfortunately, since my uncle resides in Canada, the system would not let me check out. I emailed Cheryl, whom I had not spoken to in nearly 2 years, and she responded immediately with some questions, and then eventually finding a solution for us that worked, and they shipped it out here to Canada for us!

Again I have to thank Orbita for their hospitality in dealing with me and keeping me happy as a customer. It seems these days less and less companies manage to do this – Orbita is truly a gem to deal with.

After using several Rapport Cherry Double watchwinders for about a year, I figured it would be time to post a review finally of how these guys have held up. I ran 2 of them, and I gave one to my father about 1 1/2 years ago. I recently sold one of mine however so I only have 1 now. The reason for the sale was simply because I no longer needed to have six watches winding all the time. I now use a double Rapport and 2 Orbita Sparta deluxe winders. The photo below is of a Mahogany one.. the Cherry is a bit lighter.

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Noise
These winders are nearly silent. I did have a problem with one of them making a very slight ticking noise, to which I called their 1-800 number and spoke to a friend fellow there that handles the repairs. He immediately sent me 2 motors and told me to call him when they arrived and he would explain how to install them. The option of sending the winder back was also given to me, but that would have taken a long time and it was not broken.

The procedure was painless, and the winder was restored to its original quiet operation. One thing might need to be said here.. I am VERY picky about noise from a winder. Most people I have talked to tolerate a lot more noise than I do, so when I say a watchwinder is noisy, it is very slight.

I know Norman likes to talk up the Garinin winders as being silent, affordable and reliable, but I do not know how to compare the noise levels so I can’t compare. Maybe when I visit him in the spring!

Finish/Construction
First Class all the way! The Finishing on the Rapports comes very close to the Orbitas, which is just about perfect. My Orbitas have an inlaid design on them so there might be some sort of bias there, however the wood is solid, heavy and lacquered very nicely. The lacquering is smooth and done with care. The boxes are lined well, and the interior frames are of metal construction, same as Orbita.

The watches mount on pillows, like Orbita and Wolf Designs and Scatola, which is the only way I like it.

One small complaint would be the peice behind the pillow that covers the bottom of the cup holder should be made of foam rather than furry cardboard.. when i removed the peice to replace the motors, I realized that it was cardboard backing. This isn’t noticeable from using it, but now knowing that, I wish it were foamed, like the Orbitas. Seems more high-quality.

Usability/Function
The Rapports have limited controls for keeping the watches wound. The is simply an on-off switch, and a timed or constant mode. The timed mode runs at intervals (i’m not sure exactly what the timing is) and constant just keeps running. The winder alternates between clockwise and counter clockwise. The only problem I’ve had with it is that single directional movements (valjoux 7750) only last about 1 week on it if I do not wind them prior to putting them into the winder. If I fully wind the watch before placing it in the winder, then there is no problem – at least not after a few weeks.

Reliability
The winders have run faithfully (though with the slight noise problem), and I can’t complain that they don’t work. They were making a ticking sound about as loud as a wall clock in a quiet room at night. They have a 2 year warranty and the service from Rapport was exceptional. I actually dealt directly with windyourwatch.com as they were the Canadian distributors for the product. Motors are very heavy duty and the insides of the units are very nicely done.

Conclusion
The Rapport winder is a decent winder for the money. There aren’t a lot of winders out there that give you this level of finish and quality for the amount of money. However, the winder is not perfect, and I have heard some people say that the Official Time winders that have a similar design are a bit cheaper and better on ebay. The Official Time winders are about $50 cheaper, but come in strange colors.. a little less traditional (and less aesthetically pleasing) than the Rapports. But perhaps they are more reliable or run better. I have not tried them yet.

I would recommend Rapport to someone looking for a dual winder in the $350-$400 range, however, I would also say that you’d be better off getting an Orbita if you can spend the money.

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