Walter Shillington is an avid collector of mechanical watches. His reviews focus on inexpensive but often intriguing Chinese timepieces.
I’m one of those strange fellows who waste their money buying multiple copies of stuff they don’t really need. In my case, I’m passionate about watches. And since I don’t have a large income, my collection is composed of relatively inexpensive items.
Once I'd accumulated a number of automatic watches, I began to search for a watch winder. I soon discovered that the price gap between the cheapest and the most expensive winder is shockingly extreme. The cost of a unit capable of holding one timepiece varies from between 35 and 1,200 dollars. I decided to purchase the winder that best reflected the value of my watch collection—the cheapest.
I purchased the Diplomat Men’s Single Black Watch Winder 31-40001 from the Amazon website. At present, this item sells for thirty-five dollars.
The Diplomat 31-40001 winder is a small and shiny black plastic unit. It weighs 390 grams (13.75 ounces) and measures 150 cm (5.9 inches) in length. The device is slightly oblong, its width measuring 130 cm by 140 cm.
An input is provided to allow the insertion of the power plug from a lightweight ac adapter. The adapter provides 4VDC. At the top of the winder, a switch allows you to turn the unit off or chose between clockwise and counter-clockwise motion. Diplomat advises the ac adapter should be removed from its power outlet when the unit is not in use.
A clear plastic cover can be flipped up, allowing access to the interior of the winder. Inside is a removable insert to which one timepiece can be strapped. This unit is intended to keep an automatic watch correctly wound. The company notes that its built-in smart IC Timer and directional controls ensure this device is suitable for a wide variety of automatic watches.
To set up the watch winder, I flipped open the clear plastic top and pulled out the insert. The insert is composed of two plastic blocks, one of which fits inside the other. A hidden spring forces the two blocks apart. The device includes an adapter, which allows larger watches to be fitted to the insert.
I fastened the ends of my watch strap together and, squeezing the two blocks tightly, wrapped my watch around the insert. Once I released pressure, the spring forced the blocks apart, securing my watch in place.
The next step was to insert my watch into the socket of the watch winder. Once I’d flipped the plastic cover down, I plugged in the unit’s AC adapter. A switch at the top of the winder is labeled Clockwise, Counterclockwise, and Off. I moved it to the clockwise position.
I’d expected the unit to shake the watch senseless, but all it did was slowly and quietly turn the insert in a clockwise motion. Bored senseless, I retreated downstairs to play a computer game.
By the next morning, my watch had stopped. I reset the time, slipped my timepiece back into the winder, and changed the rotation switch to the counter-clockwise position. That proved to be the proper orientation for this particular watch.
The Diplomat watch winder is lazy, working slowly and only rotating one hour in four. That, however, is sufficient to keep a watch wound. It also ensures the electric motor and gears that run the unit are not overworked and prevent the device from over-winding an automatic watch.
The diplomat, when rotating, is fairly quiet, but if you are a light sleeper, it would be best not to set up the winder in your bedroom.
After nine weeks of constant use, this unit became slightly noisier as it rotated. On the tenth week, it failed. I contacted support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My customer Support was provided by the vendor, who is based in Los Angeles. He immediately diagnosed the fault as a problem with the motor or its control circuitry and offered two options for warranty service.
One was the standard option for equipment in this price range. I could send the unit—at my expense—to their service center in LA. It would be repaired or replaced and returned to me at their expense.
He noted that the motor changeover was fairly simple to implement. If I were willing to perform the repair myself, he would supply the necessary parts. Wary of the cost of sending the broken winder to their service center, I chose the second option.
Nineteen days later, the repair kit arrived. It consisted of a tiny circuit board and two electric motors. According to the service representative, the motor was more likely to be at fault than the circuit board. I assume the second motor was a spare part, included to allow me to quickly fix the watch winder if it should fail again.
There was no obvious method to access the motor compartment, so I queried customer support. He composed a short video, displaying how to remove the cover, and emailed it back. Fifteen minutes later, the watch winder was repaired and operating.
Over the last two years, the Diplomat Watch Winder has been used mainly as an aid to accuracy and power reserve tests. It runs approximately five days each month and has worked well.
Chinese companies tend to concentrate on providing visually appealing and function-packed products at a modest price. This low cost, unfortunately, often results in poor reliability and durability. Diplomat attempts to cope with this problem by providing better than expected customer support.
I cannot recommend a product that fails within three months of its purchase. Having said that, the only winder available at Amazon anywhere near the Diplomat’s price point is the Ivation precision watch winder. Other devices of this sort start at close to three times the price of the Diplomat.
If you own a collection of expensive watches and enjoy a healthy budget, I recommend you read over the reviews of more expensively priced winders and chose from one of them. Odds are they will operate, trouble free, far longer than the Diplomat.
If your budget is modest and you don’t want to purchase a winder that costs more than your entire watch collection, take a chance on the Diplomat. You may end up replacing a motor, but—looking at the bright side—this will teach you a new skill!
Diplomat Single Watch Winder
Walter Shillington (author) from Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada on November 25, 2017:
They are very pricy. To be honest, however, the only time I use mine is when I'm testing a watch for accuracy.
Jim Rees on November 25, 2017:
As my mechanical watch collection grows, so does my need for a watch winder. The high costs of these simple devices anger me to the point that I am going to build my own.