While we have only featured a few different watch winders (here and here), there is no doubt that they are (or should be) a popular purchase for those with burgeoning mechanical watch collections. While our previous forays into reviewing winders have definitely been focused on the more affordable end of the spectrum, it was late last year that we ran across the Benson Black Series Watch Winders, which brought some nice design (and a few tricks) to the table. We have spent some time with one, and now we will share our thoughts.
This could be as simple as this: the Benson Black Series Watch Winder kept my watches wound. End of review. But that would not be terribly informative, would it? While we were sent a 4-place winder for the review, there are also 2-, 6-, and 8-slot variants, in either a black finish (as we had), white, or carbon fiber. Whichever you pick, you will get a quality finish to the wood construction of the case, stainless steel feet, and the inclusion of a USB charging port at the rear, next to where you plug the power adapter in. The USB charging port is a nice little add-on, giving some phone-charging ability to the winder.
The main reason for the power consumption on the Benson Black Series Watch Winder is, of course, to wind the watches. This comes courtesy of Mabuchi motors, which (from my limited exposure) seem to have a rather solid reputation in the world of watch winders for reliability and quietness. I can attest to that as well – the Benson Black Series Watch Winder was practically silent. This is probably helped along by the case construction, but whatever the reason, the silence will be appreciated by any who might be putting the winder in their bedroom. Would not do to have a noisy electric motor going on and off all night long!
To control what those motors do, you have a backlit, touchscreen panel found under the top lid of the Benson Black Series Watch Winder. With this, you can control (independently) the rotation direction (clockwise, counterclockwise, or bi-directional) as well as the number of turns per day (from 600 to 2100, in 300 TPD increments). This means you can fine-tune each slot to what a particular watch may need. Just pulled something out of the watch box and need to get the power reserve fully filled? Then you can use the speed winding mode, which goes clockwise for 30 minutes, counterclockwise for 30 minutes, then pauses for 15. This cycle will repeat 6 times, and then the winder will drop back to whatever the regular program is for that slot.
Taking a watch out of the Benson Black Series Watch Winder for the day? Then you’ll want to stop that slot, easily done via the control panel as well (cycle to the one you want, and press the stop button; pressing it again will start it back up). Need to pick out a watch at night? Well, lucky you, the case has an LED light you can turn on, which does a nice job of lighting up the case, and even acting as a subtle nightlight for the room (if so desired). With this LED, I would not have minded if you were able to dim it a level or two, or even have an option to temporarily turn on a UV LED before shutting it off, so you can have some nice glow coming from the dials in the dark. Yes, the white LEDs will give some lume charge, but a quick hit from a UV LED as the light turns off could be pretty sweet.
As you might notice from the photos of the Benson Black Series Watch Winder, that top section that houses the control panel also has another three slots for watches. This is a handy storage space for, well, additional watches, those that you might not want to constantly wind (perhaps of a vintage nature), or those that do not require winding, like some quartz pieces as we have pictured here. If I was doing any redesign on this case, I might actually scrap the watch slots, and instead make this a large pocket, so the top of the winder could be used almost like a valet – dump your wallet and change there, and then pick it up when you grab a watch for the day. If that was done, I’d also want a USB port in there as well, so the phone could be tucked away as well, and still be charged up.
All in all, I rather liked having the Benson Black Series Watch Winder working away, keeping my watches on time. The furniture-grade looks certainly help it along with blending in to wherever you put it, and the near-silent motors assist in keeping any fussing down about the watches being out and on display. Were there a couple of design suggestions I had? Sure, but those are not due to any shortcomings of the Benson Black Series Watch Winder itself, but more dreaming about what a v2 of the series might be like. As it is, the 4-slot Benson Black Series Watch Winder we reviewed was a treat, and at around $550 (after converting the € 599 price and taking out VAT) is definitely an affordable luxury. For the other winders in the range, they start at $350 (or €399 incl. VAT) for the 2 slot, and top out at $875 ( €999 incl. VAT) for the 8-slot. For me, the 4-slot Benson Black Series Watch Winder is right in the sweet spot of functionality, size, and price. benson-watchwinders.com
Tech Specs from Benson Watch Winders
- Models; for 2, 4, 6 and 8 automatic watches (4 models/sizes)
- Storage capacity for other watches
- Colors: black, carbon and white
- Material: wood (12 layers of paint)
- Stainless steel feet
- Mabuchi motors
- Specially developed gearing system
- Touchscreen controller
- Adjustable TPD (turns per day)
- Winding directions; CW, CC and alternate
- Adjustable watch holders for big and small wrists (ladies and gents)
- LED light
- Power winding function
- USB connection (to charge mobile phone or other devices)
- Soft-close cover
- 2 year warranty