What would Elvis Presley be if he was a watch accessory? A gyroscopic watch winder of course.
Watch winders seem to be quite a hotly debated topic. On the one end of the scale, people swear by them for keeping their automatic watches ready to grab and go. Others, however, are convinced that they put unnecessary strain on a movement and increase their likelihood to fail. Whether you like them or hate them, there’s no denying this one is striking.
This is the Piguet & Son Astronomia X1. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “there’s a winder just like this for less than £100 on AliExpress!” (maybe you were thinking of cheeseburgers, but now you are). Before you head on over to our favourite supplier of all things cheap and cheerful – there’s some stuff worth mentioning.
I spoke to Paul Piguet about his winder, and the supplier on AliExpress is illegally using this design. They are in the process of suing them as we speak. I’ve not handled one of those cheaper copies, but it’s always good to think “you get what you pay for”. Is the construction going to be up to scratch? Unlikely. Will it last? I’ve had my fair share of cheap winders that packed up in a short amount of time.
I’m not going to lie, with an RRP of €799 / ~£685, but with a current introductory half-price offer making it €399 / £340, this is not cheap. It’s definitely a luxury item. Let’s check it out to see if it’s worth it.
The video review
- Dimensions: 18cm from bottom to the top of the glass dome, radius 12cm
- Weight: 1055g
- Warranty: 1 year
- Price: €799 / ~£685, current introductory half-price offer making it €399 / £340
- Buy here: https://piguetandson.com/products/astronomia
No doubt about it, the gyroscopic movement of this winder is unique. It’s also tremendously well built, with a steel base and thick glass dome. It has a weightiness to it of just over 1kg that provides a perception of quality.
Just like a fine Swiss Made watch, this winder is handmade in Switzerland.
The design is fairly minimalist, which I really like – it’s not over-complicated or extravagant. Instead, it’s simple but done really well. Such as the way the edge of the glass lines up perfectly with the outer edge of the base, and the notch at the rear for the plug socket and mode selector switch. The switch provides a hefty, chunky clunk when you’re switching it, which feels nice and sturdy.
The inner gyroscope element is available in gold or silver; and again, is sturdy, well machined polished metal. It’s all powered by a motor hidden in the base which is connected to the bottom of the innermost ring to set the motion in play.
There are three main elements to the gyroscopic winder. First, the outer skeleton, which is completely stationary. Then, within that, are two inner circles each connected to its parent via alternating axes. It’s these inner two which are the gyrators; the two hips of Elvis Presley, if you will.
Finally, the actual holder of the watch clips into the inner disc. If your watch is on a strap, then you won’t have an issue, but if you have a gigantic wrist and your watch is on a bracelet, it might flop around a bit. This clip is pleasantly minimal in design like the rest of the winder and feels like decent quality plastic. My bracelets are sized to my 7” wrist, and it’s a little bit tight, but the arms flex so it fits just about. I’d say that you’d be safe in the range of 7.5″ – 6.5” wrist size. Two holders are provided, and my initial thought was that they were different sizes, but I was wrong – they’re both the same size. That doesn’t make much sense to me, but there you go.
I’m pleased to report that the winder is not noisy, it can be placed in a bedroom without any problem. It also has some rubber feet so it won’t scratch the surface it’s on.
There are three different modes:
- Clockwise rotation for 2 minutes, stop for 8 minutes, loop
- Counterclockwise rotation for 2 minutes, stop for 8 minutes, loop
- Clockwise rotation for one minute, counterclockwise rotation for one minute, stop for 8 minutes, loop
It’s good that it has three modes, but I feel this is probably the only place that it could be improved. It would be good to have had more control over the revolutions as per other winders in this price range. Also, it’s such a joy to watch when it’s running, it’s such a shame that it only goes for 2 minutes then nothing for 8.
A big plus, but such a simple thing, is the fact that it’s powered by a USB cable. So many winders are unnecessarily mains powered or have their own specific plug. This obviously comes with a suitable USB transformer plug-top for your country, but it’s good to know that it can plug into any phone charger or multi-USB adapter and it’ll work. It’ll even run off a battery pack.
Paul Piguet also offers worldwide, free tracked delivery with FedEx so the shipping process should be safe and fast.
It’s a joy to watch, and a joy to use. There are only two things to be aware of: firstly, the level of controls may leave some wanting. But, on the flip-side, you can’t deny it’s simple to operate. Secondly, if you want it for a watch on a bracelet, make sure it’ll fit; you’ll be safe if your wrist is between 6.5″ to 7.5″. Of course, if you plan on using this winder with a watch that has a leather strap, then it won’t be an issue.
Apart from that, Piguet & Son Astronomia X1 Gyro Watch Winder is pretty special. I’m happy just watching it gyrate over and over, and it feels great in the hands. It’s definitely got my vote at the introductory 50% offer. At full price, it’s a bit more of a struggle for me personally to justify the price, but if you want a luxury watch winder and don’t mind splashing the cash, then it’s still worth it.