Orbita Siena Rotorwind Watch Winder – Review

By Jonathan Spira on 25 August 2012
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Orbita Siena Watch Winder

While automatic or self-winding wristwatches first made their appearance in the 1920s, self-winding pocket watches were a development of the late eighteenth century. Self-winding pocket watches were ultimately less successful, in part because one’s arm moves far more than one’s torso in the course of everyday activities, but perhaps more so because wristwatches eventually became the norm.

Today, most wristwatches derive their power from batteries, but there are still many automatic wristwatches available, particularly at the higher end of the market.  Because it is important to keep these watches wound and running, especially in the case of older mechanical watches where their lubricants are said to congeal from lack of use, the watch winder was developed.

Few gadgets are less well known than the watch winder, which stores the watch and moves it in a pattern that approximates wearing it on one’s wrist.

Watch winder mechanism

A watch winder is particularly important for watches with complications, such as perpetual calendars or moon phases (or both), such as my Glashütte Original Senator Perpetual Calendar. Keeping a watch in a watch winder when not in use not only keeps it wound and lubricated but, since the watch keeps running, makes it unnecessary to reset these items.

When I asked my friend Tom Plucinsky, manager of corporate communications at BMW of North America and long-time watch collector, which watch winder I should consider, he had one word: Orbita.

Orbita, it turns out, has given a lot of thought to the topic. In 2001, the company’s founder, Chuck Agnoff, developed a system he calls Rotorwind, which uses gravity to provide the energy necessary to wind a watch, mimicking how gravity is employed when the watch is on the wrist.  Using a low-current drive motor that gets power for a few seconds every 10 or 15 minutes, the system oscillates the watch with a series of swings that are triggered by a single half revolution of the motor.  This means it only uses battery power for a few seconds, resulting in longer battery life.  In 2008, Agnoff designed a high-energy lithium cell storage battery that the company guarantees will provide power for a minimum of five years.  Other than eventually having to change the battery, the winding mechanism is essentially maintenance free and uses solid-state controls.

Click here to continue to Page 2Using the Orbita Siena Rotorwind Watch Winder

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