Hands-On with the JUVO A4 Watch Winder

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I’ll be the first to admit that I have never really considered buying a watch winder. That said, the utility of owning one is not lost on me. Though I personally enjoy the ritual of getting a watch started in the morning, I can understand why a collector cycling through many watches might want to simply keep his or her watches running.

But before we get to that, let’s get a common misconception out of the way. No, keeping your modern watch running just to prevent the lubricants from gunking up the movement is not a thing—at least, not anymore. Modern synthetic lubricants have been designed to avoid all that, so as long as the watch is properly oiled that’s not something you have to worry about.

A4 from JUVO.

So why would one want or, better yet, need a watch winder? As I wrote above, if you have a lot of watches and you want to keep them wound so that you don’t have to start them up, then that’s as good a reason as any. Also, if you have an extremely complicated watch like a perpetual calendar, which would require elaborate resetting after it has stopped, you might want to keep it on a winder to avoid that headache. And even if you’re not dropping tens of thousands of dollars on perpetual calendars, you may still have an army of vintage watches without quick-set dates that you may want to keep running. I know that the few watches I own without a quick-set date are a pain to adjust—so much so, in fact, that I often wear them with the wrong date (Zach likes to wait until the dates match on his Polerouter, but that’s no fun).

Now, not all watch winders are made equal. I’m always down for a deal, but the few budget winders I’ve encountered have been quite junky. The build is often underwhelming (the motors can be unreasonably loud), the settings are generally limited (more on this later), and sometimes they don’t even do a very good job at actually keeping your watch wound. More luxurious options don’t have these problems, but they’re not cheap, either.

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At Baselworld this year, we met with JUVO, a relatively young brand out of Austin producing some really cool watch winders that bridge the gap between the cheaper commodity winders peddled on Amazon and the upper-tier ones that run quite a bit of coin. Now, I’ll repeat that watch winders were never really on my radar, but I couldn’t help but be drawn to the ones being offered by JUVO. They sent us a unit to test drive at the office, and for the last four months I’ve had the A4 model quietly (and I do mean quietly) doing its thing by my desk. JUVO will be presenting at this year’s Wind^Up, so those of you attending will have a chance to check these out yourselves, but for those of you who cannot make it the show I wanted to offer my impressions now that I’ve had a chance to test drive this thing.

Built-in COB LED lights.

The A4 is a a sleek, four-watch tower measuring 7.5-inches long and wide, and about 20.5-inches tall. Three of the sides are high-gloss wood panels, and the fourth is a hinged glass door protecting (and displaying) the watches. Black metal trim accents the corners, and a glass plate on top of the unit is adorned with a small bit of inoffensive branding. Around back are a set of really old-school looking knobs, not unlike those one might find on Hi-Fi stereos. These control the winder settings. Overall, this thing is built like a tank. Every part feels solid and I can’t imagine any part of this unit breaking down anytime soon.Each of the winders operates independently and is programmed using a set of two knobs that control the rotation rate and direction. There are four rotation rates650, 900, 1,200, and 1,500 Turns-Per-Day (TPD)and three direction settings—clockwise, counter-clockwise, and bi-directional. Those four rates are the most common to all watch brands, with 650 being the rate for most standard timepieces (think ETA and Rolex). TPD rates matter because of the way a winder works. When set correctly, a watch winder shouldn’t wind your watch fully, but instead it should keep your watch wound roughly to the point it was at when it was placed on the winder. Setting a too high rate will result in your internal clutch slipping every time it hits its peak, which would cause needless stress on the mechanism. You can also set the directional turn of each winder. When the winder is done winding, the watch is always returned to the upright position.

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The watches sit on high-quality memory foam cushions with PU leather. They accept watches of various sizes.

What I like about the JUVO A4 in particular is that it feels very much like a piece of decorative furniture one would have in their home. I appreciate that it’s vertical and that it doesn’t take up needless counter-top space (for those of us in NYC, every little bit counts). The Japanese Mabuchi motors are silent, which can’t be said about the motors on the several cheap winders I’ve played with. I also really like the clever use of Chip-on-Board LED lights, which feature three levels of intensity controlled via another knob on the back of the winder. Having this feature turns the winder from simply a tool to a display piece that showcases your watches.

The winder uses a 110/240V AC power adapter.

The A4 is priced at $1,299. It’s not cheap, but when you compare it to the competition, namely from Orbita and Wolf, the A4 offers some significant savings and, in my opinion, superior aesthetics overall. If you don’t need a unit with four slots, the A3 (which has three winders) is priced at $999. There are also the Series M winders, which feature largely the same specs but with slightly different aesthetics at a lower price. The M3 sells for $799. Altogether, I think JUVO is offering a fine product here—one that punches well above its asking price given the specs and overall build quality of the unit. JUVO

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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