My journey through the interesting (and necessary) world of watch winders continues. Here is another impressive and relatively reasonably priced watch winder from American based Orbita. By the way, please be sure to enter to win a similar Orbita watch winder of your own during the rest of January 2010 here. If you are reading this and the giveaway has ended, you should still take a good look at Orbita for your watch winder needs, and this Sparta 1 Tesla is a solid option. For the novices out there, recall that watch winders are a convenient companion for automatic watches – but have no effect on manually wound movements. This might seem obvious to most of my readers, but for newer watch lovers this is an important distinction.

The Sparta 1 Tesla features the same winding system as the Orbita Sparta 1 Mini that I reviewed here. But the style and packaging of the Tesla is more luxurious, as well as modular. While the Sparta 1 Mini was a smaller unit, the Sparta 1 Tesla is a bit larger and can be situated in either a portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) position. This means that by getting multiple Sparta 1 Tesla units you can stack them, or place them closely next to each other if you get more than one of them. This would be difficult to do with the Sparta 1 Mini – even though it is a smaller item. As such, the Sparta Tesla is sized at 7 inches tall, 5.2 inches deep, and 4 inches wide. It is substantial in weight at 2.7 pounds, but needs to be to prevent falling over and damaging your watch. By the way, the “1” part of the name refers to the fact that it winds one watch. Orbita places the number of watches any particular product is meant to winder in the name of the item.

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There are three different styles of the Sparta Tesla watch winder. Picture is my favorite with black piano finished sides and a rosewood veneer in the center. There is another version with a silver fiber glass material in the center, and one other with black hand-stitched textured leather. Each of the versions are pretty handsome and a fitting frame for most luxury watches. Prices are the same for each style in the Sparta 1 Tesla collection.

Using the Sparta 1 Tesla couldn’t be easier. You can tell from the video that it is very simple. It starts by attaching the A/C adapter to the rear of the unit and then into the wall. The unit is “turned on” by default, but has an off-switch for when you don’t want to use it. The winder does not need to be turned off to insert or remove watches (though this is necessary with cheap Asian made watch winders). Inserting a watch is done by first removing the foam brick pillow. Close your watch over it as you would your wrist and then insert it back into the winder cage. This cage is also removable from the unit if you wish to remove it for any reason. The entire cage locks into the main unit easily and securely. That is it. Nothing else is necessary.

How does the winder work? I discussed it in more detail when I reviewed the Sparta 1 Mini, but I will discuss again briefly. The system is really clever and uses very little power. While most watch winders are constantly using power when in motion, the Sparta 1 system sips power. The system is so efficient that is uses less power each month than a 75 watt light bulb would consume in a single day. A very “green” product indeed.

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As the system sips power it moves the winding carriage in small increment clockwise. After 10 minutes the cage is pushed far enough that the system releases it. A rotor shaped weight in the back of the cage uses natural momentum to move the cage back and forth until it stops. This perfectly simulates the movement required to wind your automatic watch, and funny enough is based on the same principle. Once the cage stops the process continues again. What is great is that the system is perfect no matter what direction the rotor in your watch needs to move to wind the movement.

The ease of use and elegance of the system is really what you are paying for. The motors in the Sparta systems have been thoroughly tested to last and last. Easy to use and easy to own there is little chance of you inadvertently breaking the system. I have even tested the Sparta 1 Tesla with my largest and heaviest watched and it performed perfectly.  The Sparta 1 Tesla retails for $295. That is a full $100 more than then Sparta 1 Mini, and you get a more impressive looking housing as well as more flexible display options. Both are good depending on your needs, but for the more serious watches, you want a more serious “home” for it to live in while not on your wrist. Even though these prices aren’t cheap theoretically speaking, they are bargains compared with much that is available from Europe, and Orbita is proudly USA made and reliable. Lots of people start with inferior Asian made watch winders by quickly graduate to the likes of Orbita once they realize the need and value.

See the full Sparta 1 Tesla collection at Orbita here.

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