Silent Stepper Drive Makes A Nicer Watch Winder

Mechanical watches are great in that they never need batteries, but they are simultaneously less than great in that they will lose time if not worn or otherwise regularly agitated. The ridiculous solution to this is the watch winder, which automatically rotates your mechanical watches for you, while you’re not wearing them. This is probably the item you’ll miss the least once the apocalypse hits. [Kristopher] wanted a nice quiet watch winder for his bedside table, but existing solutions were either too loud or too expensive. As is often the case, hacking ensued.

[Kristopher] had decided that starting from scratch was too much hassle. The cheaper watch winders on the market had acceptable quality enclosures, but were simply too loud. [Kristopher] sourced a $40 unit from Amazon, and proceeded to gut the drivetrain. This was replaced with a Sparkfun stepper motor and a Trinamic SilentStepStick – an advanced stepper motor driver that uses several techniques to reduce noise during operation.

An Arduino Nano was substituted as the brains of the operation, communicating with the stepper driver and allowing the winder to be configured for different wind rates. [Kristopher] reports that the device operates near-silently, and the total cost came in well below that of a high-end luxury winder.

Mechanical watches don’t always get a lot of attention these days, but we’ve seen one built from the ground up before. As always, with tips – send ’em if you got ’em.

12 thoughts on “Silent Stepper Drive Makes A Nicer Watch Winder

  1. One interesting thing about wristwatches is the amount of drift that occurs when the watch is taken off at night. This is as a result of temperature changes. When worn, the human body tends to keep the temperature pretty constant. This is particularly noticeable in electronic units that are very stable when kept at a near constant temperature. Mechanical units should also display a discrepancy, but the general inaccuracy may mask this effect.

      1. If you’re looking for a small spindle, dental lab handpieces are quiet, high torque, and run 30-50k rpm. The brushless ones are nicest for low maintenance, but cost a bit more. They all use a standard size collet that works well, and there are various carbide cutters, grind stones, cut-off wheels, and polishers available cheaply.

  2. As a watchmaker, I feel the need to correct this- there are 2 types of all mechanical watches. Self winding automatics (that can wind when in motion, and slso usually hand wind as well), and manual wind watches.

    Watch winding machines like this only work on automatics that have an oscillating weight in them that winds on motion.

    This will not wind manual wind watches.

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