Cataloging Watch Parts

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  • #48094
    • Topics Started: 6
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    Hi everyone. While starting my new adventure in watch repair, I find myself adding more and more parts to my inventory. Is there a standard system to cataloging all these small parts? I’m thinking this is a common problem for many business owners. Right now I’m having to order new parts from my distributor and am not utilizing the parts I have on hand and where they are when I need them.
    Thank you for all your help.

    Bob Tascione
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Hi Yerigh,
    Yes there are quite a few systems out there that have been developed over the years. Bestfit, C&E Marshall, Quick Fit, Swartchild, Elgin, Waltham, Seiko, etc. etc. Having one or a few of these systems with their cabinets is helpful as you can add your extra parts to them for future repairs. All of their indexing and cross referencing methods are easy to follow. Having these systems isn’t necessary though. Although I do try to keep the systems that I have stocked with parts if I have them, I’ve found that over the years I would acquire parts and movements sold in lots which were more or less dumped in boxes. It was easier to store and index these parts by just designating different drawers in cabinets that I have (any cabinet will do) to one particular make. One (or more) drawer might be for ETA another for Font, A.S., Illinois, Seiko, etc. I then place parts into rectangular and or square clear plastic containers (square and rectangular fit better into drawers than circular containers) and each can be labeled depending on model, grade, caliber, or whatever works best for you. I then use file index cards and pencil rather than ink so that I can add or subtract parts to or from my inventory by erasing and rewriting what I’ve used or extras that I’ve purchased. I usually put a small code on each container such as A.S.22a which just refers to a specific location on the index card with all of the info about what is in that container on the card rather than on the clear box. This way I don’t cover the entire box with writing which blocks my view of the contents. I learned that one the hard way as always. In this way I’m able to quickly view an index card for say Elgin and or look through the containers and see exactly what I have in inventory. It’s also very helpful to purchase books like the Bestfit Catalogs and Illustrated Manual of American Watch Movements for cross referencing and for additional information. An example would be… if you have an Elgin staff #861 you can add “see page 15 AWM” for more detailed info. This way you don’t have to write it all out. The more referencing and cross referencing books or manuals you have on hand the better. It’s not perfect but I can usually determine if I have the part and then easily find it!
    Many people set up their own spread sheet systems and can keep track of inventory right on their computer. This seems like a great way to go. Also there is or was at least one watch parts indexing software system out there that can be purchased from material houses. This is probably also a great way to go but I must confess I haven’t gone that route and really know little about that system.
    If I’ve in any way given you the impression that all my stuff is super organized then I’m sorry. I am and it is far from organized! I still have lots of material in boxes that needs to be categorized that I just don’t or can’t seem to get around to. Although using this simple system is much quicker for me than using the Bestfit and other proven systems that I mentioned, I just seem to be too lazy to finish it!
    Hope this helps Yerigh,

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yerighCataloging Watch Parts