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Watch Parts

by J.Peter

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I was reading in my January Horological Tiimes today about workshop organization and parts inventory management. I have seen some very cluttered watchmaker workshops. Often the watchmaker’s bench is completely covered with old parts and movements except for the 10 – 16 square inches directly in front of them where they work on their current project. Usually in these shops there is a 70 year old watchmaker who knows just where everything is. I know some parts supply houses are run in this same fashion.

I don’t operate in this fashion. I throw 80% of my old parts away because, well they’re broken, that’s why I removed them from the watch. I do keep old Rolex parts sorted by caliber for performing statistical analysis which helps me provide better estimates to my customers. I also keep many old quartz movements around for scavenging for battery clamps and screws should I need one, but they are organized in a single drawer by make and caliber.

My biggest issue is this. I keep spare parts stock for Rolex calibers and for a few ETA calibers which I see all the time, namely the 7750, 2824, 2892, and 2000. Any other parts I have are a result of previous watchmakers who worked in my shop. I recently went through our two parts cabinets and organized all the parts either by Bestfit number or by caliber and manufacturers number so that I can quickly check the cabinet before ordering the part to see if I have it in stock. Prior to this I probably ordered several parts which we already had in stock.

The fact is material houses are in the business of storing, organizing, and selling parts. I am in the business of repairing watches. It makes much more sense for them to keep the inventory and for me to order it when I need it. I have been faced with the temptation of buying parts cabinets in the past and I caved once, I bought a cabinet of beautiful blued steel and gilt hands, the quality of the material was so good I couldn’t resist. The problem is there is no index, so if I want hands I have to measure every single pair until I find the ones I need. It is way easier and faster to call up a parts house and order hands. I won’t buy another parts cabinet unless I know it is full of rare and valuable parts for which there is a great demand and it comes with an index.

On bench organization: I try and leave my bench completely clean every night, this way it remains clutter free. It may seem silly to put away a watch and tools which I am going to use again the following day but it allows me to clean off my bench so it doesn’t get dusty and maintain order in my workshop. I guess this may be a result of my Swiss-esque training.

4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] a little bit taking care to make the rest look perfect. And, then there is the issue of parts. When parts aren’t available what does one do? Not replace worn parts, make new ones, use generic, or turn down the [...]

  2. [...] a little bit taking care to make the rest look perfect. And, then there is the issue of parts. When parts aren’t available what does one do? Not replace worn parts, make new ones, use generic, or turn down the [...]

  3. [...] frustrated because we can’t always get the parts we need. Read more about parts here, here, and [...]

  4. [...] Watch Parts [...]

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