We invite you to enjoy another great watch winder review from Howard Chan.
This is a slightly unusual review in that it’s for a variety of winders rather than a single piece. That’s because the Rotobox from “Underwood (London)” is a cross between an expandable winder and the more traditional ‘jewelry box’ style winder. The unit itself is completely removable and can be placed into a wide variety of cases from single framed leather boxes to large wooden units housing twenty or more modules.
Underwood as a brand came out an Italian leather company from the early 20th century. Confusingly, they sport the word ‘London’ as part of the name which appears bracketed after ‘Underwood’ but are actually still headquartered in Florence.
What Underwood have done here is to try and merge the best of two worlds – modular, stackable winders favoured by people who are hedging their bets on the final size of their collection; and fixed space display cabinets preferred by those looking to show off their collection.
The real question is how well they have pulled off this balance, and the best place to start is with the winding unit itself – the actual Rotobox. There aren’t many style points here, but that’s because the box is a generic shape, cut to fit into a variety of display cabinets. That being said, there is still a functionally attractive appeal. The unit is available, in its simplest form, with just a window at the front.
The motor itself has solid credentials. It is apparently used by NASA on their remote control devices, which bodes well for its longevity. More importantly, it consumes little power and is impressively quiet.
Like all good winders this has the option of both batteries or mains power (1.5V and regular alkaline C batteries). The battery compartment itself is somewhat hidden away, accessible only by turning the winder over and putting firm pressure on the underside section to slide it forward.
However, it is definitely worth using the battery option. Due to the low power consumption of the motor, a regular set of Alkaline C batteries will keep this spinning for a good 12 months. When plugged it, the batteries automatically cut out.
There’s a lot to be admired about the overall mechanics of the Rotobox. However, we here at Watch Winders Int have a couple of complaints too. At this price range (expect to pay around $700 USD for a single unit) we feel justified in questioning the design choice of a constantly flashing LED. The green flicker every 7 seconds may indicate the unit is working when not in motion, but it is also distracting from the overall appearance and doesn’t fit with the style.
Our other gripe is with the lack of winding choices. On their site, Underwood position this as a strength, claiming that their “watch winder features a precise winding cycle”. Precision is always good, especially in the world of watches, but many buyers will be looking for more choice in terms of winding direction and Turns Per Day. The out-of-the-box setting is for 10mins turning one way, then 10mins the other, followed by a 5hr 40min rest. That provides 1hr 20mins of winding per day.
For those keen on the Rotobox and looking for more choice in the winding cycle there is a plug-in USB device available to re-program the motor. It is not, however, provided as standard and therefore comes at an additional cost. Which leads back to the price issue. Plenty of winders feature nose-bleed inducingly high prices, but most also try to include the maximum number of options in terms of turn cycles and rest periods.
That being said, there is still much to be admired here. The build quality is of the highest order and the noise level is incredibly low. However, it’s the modular aspect that works best here and is Underwood’s biggest triumph. No other manufacturer competes in this sphere of high end display cases and interchangeable winder units. With their functional cubic winder and wide array of beautiful display cabinets the Rotobox really sets the standard.
R.R.P = (USD) $694 (single unit)
More info at www.underwood-london.com
To learn more about watch-winders from all over the world please visit Howard’s highly informative website www.watchwindersinternational.com.