Like athletes, automatic watches need regular workouts to keep them in good working order. A watch winder is therefore like an essential piece of equipment at the gym: it keeps your watches in good shape. But a beautiful timepiece deserves a beautiful winder, so it shouldn’t look like a piece of workout equipment. Swiss watch winder company RDI, makes sure its RDI watch winders also serve as decorative objects in their own right, crafted by hand and designed for display.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, keeping automatic watches constantly moving avoids unnecessary wear on the movement. Every time a watch is unscrewed to be wound and reset, it erodes the screw threads and wears down the gaskets that make it water resistant. A winder prevents you from having to constantly rewind and reset the watch because it keeps it in a programmed cycle of motion. This ensures the rotor keeps the mainspring coiled, but not too tightly. A winder also helps prevent oil from pooling when the watch winds down; as long as a watch is running, the oil is being evenly distributed throughout the movement. A winder, therefore, keeps it properly lubricated. A good one has a variable rotation setting, as not all automatic watch rotors wind in the same direction. It should also periodically cycle into a rest mode, as if the watch were actually being worn. A winder should also be relatively noise free - you don’t want to hear it grinding away while you’re sleeping or watching TV.
The latest collection of RDI watch winders is the Mémoire, and it answers all of these requirements. In addition to fulfilling the technical specifications of the high-end watch winder – it has 16 program options that have been determined appropriate for different models of watches – the Mémoire is a technical achievement in the decorative sense. The case is finished with inlaid petrified wood. Part vegetable and part mineral, petrified wood is fossilized wood that is formed by the combination of water, ash, and minerals such as iron, copper, and manganese. Every specimen is unique, with its own pattern formation. Before they are used in RDI Mémoire winders, the thin layers of wood are polished to perfection, bringing out a rich palette of colors, using a technology that is proprietary to RDI. Options include black, sand, green, occasionally with some blue, and sometimes with inlaid gems.
The sides and top are surrounded by columns of soft black metal. The front is covered in leather, under a glass door. “Each is a unique piece, finished by hand, and functions as a beautiful objet d’art,” says Charles Kaeser, CEO of RDI. “We don’t need to hide them in a cupboard. They can take their place in a dressing room, bedroom, living room or office, as a genuine work of art on display.” RDI watch winders have even been used as decorative displays in retail stores. In essence, the Mémoire is like a fine watch, combining technical prowess with the art of hand finishing. And because the winders are modular, they can be stacked or arranged together to accommodate more than one timepiece and create interesting display arrangements. They are attached together using rings that click to the top of the winder legs and allow other units to rest on top. It runs on AA batteries.
RDI was established in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2006 by the Kaeser family, which also makes cases, and creates automata for pharmaceutical laboratories. “We take great pride in the reliability of our winders,” says Kaeser. “They are crafted to the exacting standards required by the Swiss-made label, and they are among the most silent on the market.”
The Memoire retails for approximately $6,500, which represents the mid-range in terms of pricing for RDI. The Horizon line runs about $627, and the Safe Lift – a tower with four winders in one and a decorative gold gear train on the front – will run you about $156,000. rdi-remontoirs.ch
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