My solution was a dedicated watch drawer. I was lucky in that the previous owner of our house had installed an insane closet system with a host of drawers that I never really found a good use for. After a couple of trips to the store and little bit of assembly, I had a pretty tidy watch storage system, the secret of which I will share with you today.
You will need:
2" high Custom Drawer Organizer Strips (I used these from The Container Store )
Non-slip drawer liner
Box cutter or matte knife
Steel ruler or straightedge
1.5" foam pipe insulation
Step 1: Get a Drawer
This part may be obvious, but the project pretty much falls apart without it. Once you find a suitable drawer and clear out all the old receipts, iPod ear buds, and broken sunglasses, you will need to break out your tape measure. The idea will be to create individual compartments for each watch, with extra space for straps and tools.
You will need 2" of depth and at least 3" clearance, maybe more for larger watches. Bear in mind that if your drawer is on rollers, these two measurements will probably not be the same.
The dimensions of each compartment should be about 2 x 3", but there is some wiggle room here. The watches in my collection have cases ranging from under 30mm to over 48mm, and I found that 2 x 2.75" provided ample space for all. I have owned watch boxes with compartments as small as 1.5" wide and they seemed to work just fine, even for the monster-sized, provided I put a smaller watch in between. If your collection ranges smaller or larger, adjust accordingly. The size of the watches in your collection and the size of your drawer may dictate slightly different dimensions. Finally, measure how much of the drawer is accessible when fully open.
Step 2: Make a Plan
You don't need to go nuts, but a little planning will save a lot of frustration. Figure out how many watches you need to store, how many other items you will need in there, and how they will all fit. Remember how I said to measure the accessible space when open? I had set up three rows of compartments in my drawer before I realized that with the third row in place, it would be impossible to reach anything behind it. Also note that the plastic dividers you are using are flexible. This is no problem at short lengths, but long lengths can move around in use so factor in some bracing.
My drawer was 22" wide, which made for two rows of ten 2" compartments. Behind that, long and narrow lengths would provide a place to store organize straps, and also provide support from the back of the drawer to the long dividers running horizontally along the front half. Once you know how many compartments you can fit, and in what length, you can calculate your materials. Buy a little extra as mistakes will be made, and plans may change.
Step 3: Get to Work
First cut and fit the liner. This will protect the buckles and clasps, prevent any clicking or rattling, and help keep everything in place.
Installation of the dividers is a snap, literally. You measure the length you need, score it using the matte knife against the steel ruler or straightedge, and snap it off. Done. Just remember to account for the thickness of the uprights.
The uprights are self adhesive. Because you measured carefully and planned ahead, you have no need to go back to the store for more, right? Yeah, go back to the store. They sell extras.
Your watch pillows will be the pipe insulation cut to size. This stuff is firm, soft to the touch, easily cut, and dirt cheap at your local big box hardware store. It also happens to be approximately wrist sized. If you have gorilla wrists, you may want to go bigger. Wear a watch on a steel bracelet to the store and test fit it on the pipe foam.
Step 4: Enjoy
Looks great! Now you can organize to your heart's content: by movement, purpose, lug width, etc. Just remember, the more space you have, the greater the temptation to fill it.