Way back in 2013, I showed the world how to make cheap and easy watch drawers using plastic dividers and 1" pipe insulation. It has become one of my most popular posts and photos of that drawer have ended up all over the Internet. Given that success, there is only one reasonable thing to do: a sequel!
The original drawers were in a custom closet system installed in our home by a previous owner. It was pretty cool, but not very portable. This became a problem after we moved into another home late last year. The closets in the new house were simply incompatible with watch storage. Suddenly, I found myself with a sizable watch collection and no place to put it. How would I protect my watches? How was I supposed to choose a watch in the morning? Where was going to put my extra straps? It was an intolerable state of affairs for The Time Bum.
I decided to take my storage solution to the next level. Built-in units were not going to work in this particular application. The closets were too small, and the existing wire-framed Elfa shelving, while awesome for clothing and shoes, was not really suited for my watch system. I needed a reasonably compact, free-standing storage unit with drawers about 2' wide and 3-4" deep. Of course, it also had to be cheap. With those parameters in mind, I went to the only logical source: Ikea.
After much measuring, deliberation, and careful consultation with my interior design consultant (Mrs. Time Bum), I chose the Alex Drawer Unit on Casters. This simple unit is 26 3/8" x 18 7/8" deep x 26" tall with six drawers and sells for $119. For watch storage purposes, the key measurements are inside the drawers. Each is 23 1/2" x 16 1/2" with 2 1/4" deep sides, but the upper three have only 2 3/4" of clearance whereas the lower three have 3 3/4", which is perfect for even the largest diver's watches.
I flirted with the idea of filling the drawers with pick-and-pluck foam and hollowing individual compartments, but this would require about 1/4" between each. In the interest of maximizing space, I stuck with my tried and true method of plastic dividers, which significantly shaved the gap in between compartments. It also allowed me to reuse many of the parts from the old drawers. As before, I lined the bottom with a non-slip mat, created a series of compartments using 2" Custom Drawer Organizer Strips from The Container Store, and cut the pipe foam for watch cushions.
I was able to squeeze 11 compartments into a row. When the drawers are pulled completely out to their stops, each drawer accommodates up to 4 rows. For those counting at home, that's 44 compartments in three drawers for a total capacity of 132 watches - and three more shallow drawers for straps, tools, or even smaller watches. I don't need quite that much space (yet) but it is nice to know that it is there. Best of all, if I need to move my collection again, I can do so easily. It even has wheels.
Is this the perfect storage solution? Not yet. I'm thinking some LED lights in the drawers would be a nice upgrade, and I'm still tinkering with the configuration of the strap drawers, but I have got every watch item I own in one place still have room to grow. It's not perfect yet, but it will be.