Review of The Topper 1940 4.1 Winder System By Wolf Designs
By: John B. Holbrook, II
The fine folks at Toppers Jewelers recently sent me the new Topper 1940 4.1 Winder System By Wolf Designs for review - my first exposure to Wolf watch winders. The Topper 1940 4.1 is essentially a "private label" version of the Wolf 4.1. Here's a photo of the Topper 1940 4.1:
It's nearly identical to the non-private label counterpart Wolf Designs 4.1, but does feature a brushed finished face plate and controls which is a bit darker (I call it more of a gun metal finish) than the standard Wolf 4.1 winder. It also features the Topper Jewelers logo.
While the 4.1 winders may not have the aesthetic appeal of other winders with elaborate wood cases, the design of the 4.1 winders offers something the "pretty boys" don't - expandability. These winders have slots on all four sides which accept a plastic piece that can connect to another winder as you purchase additional unites. They also feature 5.5V AC adapter power cables which can be "daisy chained" together as you add additional winders - up to 12 can be run off a single outlet. By connecting them, they look and function as a single, multi-head winder all operating off of a single wall plug. This ability to expand as you add more watches to your collection is a huge benefit for collectors. Multi-head winders are often very expensive and force you to buy for both your present and future winder needs. With this system, you only buy what you need, when you need it.
The Topper 1940 4.1/Wolf Designs 4.1 winders have several upgraded features over the previous generation Wolf Designs 4.0, the most significant of which being the control system. Here's a photo of the control panel on the Wolf Designs 4.0 system:
The controls here are less than intuitive, and the four enumerated buttons are not labeled as to their function. If you're like me, once you get a winder set up with whatever watch it's going to keep wound, you don't often change those settings. So I personally would never remember what each of these buttons actually do, and would likely be forced to break out the manual to make any changes to the settings in every case. Now compare that to the control panel on the Topper 1940 4.1 winder:
The knobs are clearly marked - the knob on the left controls the direction of winder rotation, while the knob on the right powers the unit on and off. The +/- buttons are also self-explanatory, used in conjunction with the LED display. The 4.1 system provides far more control over the turns per day which the winder can be set to than did the previous 4.0 system. While the 4.0 system had essentially only four settings (300,600, 900 turns per day, or continuous) the 4.1 system can be adjusted in increments of 50 turns anywhere from 300 to 1200 turns per day. It should be noted that from an expandability perspective, the Wolf 4.0 and 4.1 winders are compatible with one another. If you have some 4.0 winders, you can add 4.1 winders and enjoy the same modular expansion and daisy chaining of the power cables.
Here's a photo of the Topper 1940 4.1 with the observation dust cover removed, and the cuff (larger and improved over the 4.0 winder) which holds the watch in place within the winder also removed. I was impressed with how quiet the 4.1 winder ran - even with the dust cover removed, the winder was nearly silent when running. The only question mark in my mind is how do these winders run over the long haul? According to Rob Caplan of Topper Jewelers, they've carried the Wolf 4.0 line since 2009 and don't often seen problems with the winder motors.
In addition to the written photo review, I've prepared a video segment on the Topper 1940 4.1 Winder System:
The Topper 1940 4.1 Winder System By Wolf Designs has a retail price of just $199.00 on the Topper Jewelers website. But members of the WATCH TALK FORUMS community can receive a 10% discount on this winder (and all stackable winders on the Topper website) using the promo code "Holbrook" at checkout. To be honest, I've never found a quality watch winder at this low of a price point. So for Topper to be able to provide the Topper 1940 4.1 Winder System By Wolf Designs is an unprecedented value which will no doubt be a tremendous boon to the online watch enthusiast community. Perhaps the biggest objection I've seen from watch enthusiasts to using a winder (which I find to be an invaluable convenience) is cost. Thanks to Topper, Call up Rob a Topper Jewelers and give him a big "thank you!"
**Photos & Text Copyright 2012 WATCH TALK FORUMS INC. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS