Orbita Tourbillon Watch Winder Reviewed (Verdict: Seriously, You Bought a Watch Winder?)

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The Orbita Tourbillon is a watch winding machine, for those too busy to keep a watch wound on their own. I thought it was a joke but it is apparently a very real thousand-dollar product—three grand if you get the triple-barreled version.

Watch Report has one:

In addition to keeping your watches wound, the Orbita Tourbillon will also to rotate them in such a way as to offset the negative effects of gravity. Just as the tourbillon complication is designed to rotate a watch’s escapement in order to counteract the forces of gravity and keep the movement functioning more regularly, with every turn, the Orbita Tourbillon positions your watches at a 30° offset from the previous turn. In other words, rather than rotating 360°, the barrel is rotated 390° which means that every 12 turns, the watch has had the opportunity to rest at a slightly different angle, averaging out the tiny variations in accuracy caused by gravitational forces over time.

I keep putting my plastic Casio watch on there and I can really tell a difference in the way the LCD display hangs in the albedo offset. I think it has realigned the matrix of the liquid crystal lattice.

Review of the Orbita Tourbillon Watch Winder [WatchReport.com]

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16 Responses to Orbita Tourbillon Watch Winder Reviewed (Verdict: Seriously, You Bought a Watch Winder?)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes it does sound ridiculous but you have to understand watch collectors. Guys spend tens of thousands on a single watch to add to their collection. These watches are automatic and wind themselves from the motion of the wearer’s arm. So for the guy who has 10, $20k watches he’s not going to want to have to wind and set the time everytime he wants to wear a different watch. And so the overprices watch winder was born.

  2. djs52 says:

    It’s not (quite) the ridiculous pseudoscience that it sound like. Automatic (self-winding, by means of a weight) mechanical (i.e., clockwork) watches run down in a couple of days if not worn. If you have several watches, this means that you have to keep resetting and winding up your watches — and some don’t even have a crown on the side for winding. So there’s a market for watch winders which move the watch around to keep it wound up.

    The thing about gravity comes from trying to make mechanical watches as accurate as possible — they run at slightly different rates depending on which way up they are, so are sometimes calibrated to an individual person’s lifestyle (e.g., a computer user spends most of their time with the watch horizontal). One way of overcoming this is the tourbillon which continuously rotates the watch’s timing mechanism to even out the variations in the watch’s position. It seems that this product lets the watch rest in different positions after each winding rotation in order to have a similar effect, and hopefully maintain some semblance of accuracy.

    And this is why we all wear quartz watches :-)

  3. haineux says:

    There are plenty of good hundred-dollar watch winders. I wish I had one, because every time I want to wear my nice Swatch IRONY automatic skeleton silver watch, I have to find some WD-40 to unstick the crown, then set the time, then shake the darn watch for about 5 minutes to get it partially wound. Then again, I’d have to plug such a thing in, and that’s a few watts right there.

    Tourbillion movements in watches counteract the minute effects of gravity. If you spend your day with your arm out flat (typing), a regular watch will run at a different speed than if you spend it with your arm hanging down (meeting clients?). Over the course of a year, this could mean a difference of 5 – 10 seconds. So instead, the tourbillion spins the escapement around, reducing the error, at a mere $10k – $100k extra per watch. It’s also an incredibly cool thing to watch when you are bored. (Gee, could that be the real reason? DING DING DING DING)

    Calling this thing a “tourbillion” is somewhat facetious, but if you’re going to spend $100k for a watch, why not spend $1k for the winder, and this one looks really cool.

  4. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    Not everyone wears an electric watch. I have a drawer full of mechanicals, and I happen to be wearing the timepiece pictured on that winder. Position errors are one of the really fascinating aspects of mechanical timekeeping. In George Daniels’ book Watchmaking at least 70 of the 400 pages deal with the effects of temperature, friction, gravity, geometry, surface finish, elasticity and arc of motion on the rate of a watch. It’s written with such clarity that it could stand alone as a text on materials, mechanics and microfabrication. Daniels invented the famous Coaxial Escapement to reduce the rate variation of the escapement that is caused by the locking and impulse functions being performed by the same parts. After 30 years he licensed it to Swatch Group for use in Omega watches.

  5. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    The tourbillon escapement is accurately described by commenters above. It was invented for pocket watches, which typically sat in a vest pocket in one position all day and were prone to changes of rate when held at a different position. This is not a problem with wrist watches, which when worn move through a variety of positions during teh day, averaging out the rate errors. Tourbillon escapements in wrist watches have no practical purpose, and are produced for the sake of appearance only.

  6. bigfatdummy says:

    I have about 25 or so mechanical watches. I find I wear my favorite, (tag heuer, aquaracer) 90% of the time because its such a pain to set the time each time I swap watches. I need something like this to do all my watches at once.

  7. adamrice says:

    There is a great irony in that this winder has a digital clock on it.

  8. thermidorthelobster says:

    I do love the expensive watch ads that bang on about how pilots and stupidly rich people wear these things because they’re so incredibly accurate.

    Unless you’re navigating with a sextant, how many people actually need a watch that’s accurate to anything more than a few seconds each day; let alone a fraction of a second? Ah, the joys of marketing.

  9. Narual says:

    @Adamrice — Probably syncs with an atomic clock so you can set the watch accurately before you put it on the winder.

    And god, I feel like a redneck typing that… hay, bobby-jo, look out the winder, billy-bob’s lookin for ya

  10. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    In defense of watch nerds, over the centuries they have contributed some very worthwhile things to our civilization. Marine navigation. Railroad schedules that work without collisions between trains. Uh… that dropping ball thing in Times Square on 12/31… Okay, I’m all out of examples.

  11. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    After seeing this high tech digital watch winder I want to build a Steampunk one. I have a dozen surplus 20rpm brass clock motors that would work. An oak base and brass hardware, of course. And a riveted leather drive belt. It would have to gave a gauge or meter of some kind. And of course a big NE30 neon bulb as an on/off indicator, a knife switch and a flyball governor to regulate the speed. NOW you’re talking.

  12. MountainMan says:

    Also in defense of us watch nerds…

    We spend from $2,000 on up for good quality automatic watches. Whether that’s a good use of money for collecting something is relative and a different discussion. The point is (and the previous postings missed the point) is that by keeping automatic watches wound, it keeps them intermally lubricated and in better condition. This keeps maintenance costs down. It’s much like changing the oil in your car – I’m sure you all perform that maintenance.

    Most people think that winders are just a fancy device to avoid having to reset the watches. If that were the only function, I would probably agree that a winder is a bit over the top.

    Regarding whether to spend $100 per “head” or $1,000 (as in the case of the Orbita Tourbillon), less axpensive winders can actually do more damage than not using one at all. Manufacturers of automatic watches specify the ideal number of turns per day and direction (clockwise or counterclockwise) to accurately wind their watches. The more expensive winders are programmable and can be set up to the manufacturer’s specs. It’s all about protecting the investment.

    To be fair, I have to poke some fun at this. The Orbita watch database specifies that my Chronoswiss Regulateur Automatique should be wound counterclockwise at between 650-900 turns per day. By what if God forbit I want to WEAR it? I don’t count the number of times and in which directon my arms moves while I’m at work… I quess I just risk it when I wear a watch.

  13. mark says:

    I’ve always thought it would make a good hacking project to make a multiple watch winder. I have a bunch of automatic watches but every time I look for an 8 barrel winder the cheapest I can find is a couple of grand. Which is kinda nuts. It seems like a fairly simple drive chain plus a stepper motor could bring the whole project in around $150. That or a giant washing machine size one that has one giant barrel all the watches get strapped in. That would be awesome.

  14. TharkLord says:

    This is an interesting item, but…
    it looks alot like a rock tumber with a watch stuck on one end.

    http://scientificsonline.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_3053494

    Hmmm… My watch all wound up and shiny rocks to show my friends. Cool.

  15. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    A few seconds a day of timekeeping error may seem insignificant, but it’s cumulative. 10 seconds in 24 hours may seem sufficiently accurate for all purposes, but after a month you’re off by 5 minutes.

  16. Halloween Jack says:

    WATCH NERRRRRRRRRRRRRDS!

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