Watch Winder Keeps Your Timepieces Ticking

Mechanical watches are triumphs of engineering on a tiny scale. Capable of keeping time by capturing the energy of the user’s own movements, they never need batteries changed. Unfortunately, they quickly lose time when not worn for a few days. To solve that problem, [sblantipodi] built a smart watch winder.

The overall build consists of six individual winder units. Each one has an ESP8266EX D1 Mini microcontroller, hooked up to a 28BYJ48 stepper motor with a ULN2003 motor driver. There’s also an OLED screen for status information. When commanded, the stepper motor turns, rotating a watch case to wind the timepieces.¬†Control is via voice command, thanks to a Google Home Mini and a Raspberry Pi running Home Assistant. Watches can be wound individually, or all together, depending on the command given.

It’s a device that would serve any collector well, and could come in handy for watchmakers to wind customer watches waiting for pickup. Other similar builds have used special silent drives to ensure the device doesn’t disturb sleep when used on a bedside table. Video after the break.

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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.

Zenith’s New Watch Oscillator Is Making Waves

Swiss watchmaker Zenith has created what many mechanical watch fanatics are calling the biggest improvement to mechanical watch accuracy since the invention of the balance spring in 1675. The Caliber ZO 342 is a new type of harmonic oscillator that runs at 15 Hz, which is almost four times the speed of most watches. The coolest part? It’s fabricated out of silicon using Deep Reactive Ion Etching (DRIE), and it single-handedly replaces about 30 components.

Before explaining how Zenith’s oscillator works and why this is such exciting news, it’s important to understand why the balance spring and balance wheel were such a big step forward when they were the newest thing. The system was invented by [Christiaan Huygens], a Dutch mathematician and scientist. [Huygens] had previously invented the pendulum clock, which is widely accepted as the first precision timepiece.

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