Bennett Winch is an English leather-goods maker that recently set about to produce what it believes is the best-in-category watch storage roll of its type. “The Watch Roll” is the brand’s simple name for a not-so-simple category of wrist watch storage products. This version costs $785 USD but arrives with an experience that leave little to be desired.
“Watch rolls” tend to be a broad category of leather or fabric-based timepiece storage pouches that typically secure between three and six timepieces. Once the timepieces are secured in some form, the entire assemblage rolls up or has some rolling over wrapped around it. These make up a very large percentage of the watch storage containers — especially for travel or carrying purposes — used both by wristwatch consumers and timepiece industry professionals.
Even though I have hands-on experience with a great number of watch roll products, I by no means have tested them all. That Bennett Winch makes a high-quality watch roll is clear; that it is the best in category is a claim I’m not sure I can make. It really matters little, namely because $785 is still a pittance in the scheme of fancy wristwatch carrying, storage, and display accessories. Some watch storage and display cases (basically elaborate furniture) can cost tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Watch winders and desktop storage solutions can often cost into the thousands. Though it is certainly true that one can purchase a leather watch roll in the same general style as the stately Bennett Winch for not much more than $10. Even “name brand” watch rolls can come in at under $100. What then does this several times multiplier in cost deliver?
Details, mainly. I think the most viable use case scenario for the Bennett Winch Watch Roll is as a “presentation case.” If you are showing people watches (well, up to three of them) and don’t have something with your own brand’s name on it, then The Watch Roll is a very slick way of doing so. It looks well-made, and those in the know are familiar with the fact that Bennett Winch charges for what they do. The British company will be able to charge this much up until a competitor is able to come out with substantially the same thing for far less. I doubt that will happen anytime soon. There are just too many expensive little details here to make a copycat simple. This watch roll feels less like the mass-produced flimsy “hard rolls” you may have experienced in the past. It feels more like high-end leather luggage or similar products.
There are a few common problems with watch rolls of this style. All but one of them Bennett Winch overcame. I will cut to the one they did not overcome, and that is size. This isn’t an issue if you want to use The Watch Roll exclusively for presentation purposes (larger is more impressive — no pun intended), but for actual travel purposes, the size of the case is more than is necessary to keep three watches safe. This is a minor issue and is a trade-off given the theme with an otherwise really good watch storage and carrying product. Three problems The Watch Roll overcomes is instability in the closing mechanism, poor protection between watches, and poor long-term wear and tear resistance.
Bennett Winch produces two versions of the Watch Roll, the difference being the color of the smooth Tuscan leather. This is the black roll, while Bennett Winch also sells a brown version. Under the leather is said to be a strong Kevlar fabric lining which is the tough material that holds The Watch Roll together. That and the solid-feeling stitching make for a product that should age gracefully.
The distinctive hexagonal design of the Watch Roll is part of how it both closes securely and so that it can double as a presentation surface. The soft padded Alcantara lining is ideal to lay a watch down on (non-slip, as well), and it also wears very well on top of that. Given how the roll is made up of several flat sections, they roll flat forming a presentation tray, which gives the Watch Roll welcome added utility.
When you close the Watch Roll, the flat sections help the structure retain shape. This also means that you never have to feel like you are tugging it closed, or that deformation of the shape can make the button connection flimsy. Again, I say all this as it happens with other similar watch rolls. I’ve had some that don’t close properly on day one. Others close properly until you actually put watches in them. Bennett Winch designed the Watch Roll interior space to be more than ample for large watches and small ones — which no matter what don’t make the case and are more or less challenging to close.
When closed, Bennett Winch chose traditional-feeling brass buttons — three of them that secure the roll close like some vintage military jacket. Inside the roll is where a removable padded cylinder sits. You can fully remove it and it rests securely between grooves formed on either end of the roll.
The green interior is solid but gives just enough give to let the cylinder in and out without hassle. The cylinder comes with two sectional rings that add a padded buffer between your watches. This is a crucial component and, if you lose one, then you’ll immediately need to replace it with a poofy woman’s hair tie. That sectional piece protects watches from rubbing up next to each other. Many other watch rolls do not come with this protection and its unwise, in my opinion, to carry around watches that might slide and rub over one another; scratches will likely result. Bennett Winch’s Watch Roll is not the only company to have inter-watch padding, but they do offer their own unique hex-shaped rings which are the right size for the roll and are well-designed to keep the stored timepieces safe from unnecessary harm.
My experience has taught me that there is no perfect way to carry, store, or travel with watches. It depends on a number of things — especially, the watches you are seeking to keep secure. The size, material, strap-type, and age will have a big impact on how you carry your watches. This type of hard watch roll does a very good job of being safe storage for a large number of watch types. It isn’t the most compact option, but it does look good in the process. Bennett Winch’s Watch Roll lives up to its promise of delivering more than most others for the money, and also for being a finely made luxury product. You can find less expensive watch storage, but for a mixture of solid building quality, considered design, and current bragging rights, the Bennett Winch Watch Roll is a slick act to beat. Price is $785 USD. Learn more at the Bennett Winch website here.