Recently, while continuing down the road of my pilot watch obsession, I stumbled upon a company called PJS Watches. They offer a variety of watches in quartz and automatic but my eye was specifically drawn to their Pilot series Ref 201 and 202. At ~$250 after shipping, the 201 and 202 are faithful homages to the standard pilot watches issued to German pilots in WWII.
Watch rolls are making a strong rise in the watch community for travel, quick transport and storage. While I love the look of a watch roll, I just couldn’t justify spending over $100. So I set out to make my own for as cheap as possible. Disclaimer:I am not a tailor and I don’t pretend to be. Be prepared to see some rough stitching.
Most of the watch rolls you’ll see available are leather, hence the high price tags. I didn’t have any leather around but I did have some old canvas I used for painting. I cut out a section about 17″ wide and folded the bottom section at about 4″. This gives enough space to protect the watches but leaves enough sticking out so you can identify them. Next I measured out the width of the pockets. The good thing about a watch roll is the tolerances are pretty forgiving so you can make your widths fairly large to accommodate even the largest of watches. I made mine about 2.75″ wide for each space.
I marked my roll with a black pen so the lines would stand out, but using seamstress chalk or other marking chalk would be a good idea so there won’t be any visible lines. You should end up with about five spaces for watches and one accessory spot for straps or tools. You can vary the measurements to get six watches to fit but I like having the space for a tool or strap in the roll. I would definitely recommend using a sewing machine on this as stitching this by hand would take quite some time. If you don’t have access to a sewing machine, start scouring garage and estate sales! You can usually pick a decent one up for around $50.
I used a green thread as a contrast to show my stitch lines on this project but if I were to make another one I would definitely seek out some matching thread. I wanted to use a heavy stitch for strength but not so heavy that it got in the way. After tackling the individual pockets, I folded the edges over to clean them up a bit. The nice part about folding the bottom of the canvas is you don’t have to make a stitch line and it makes it a bit more uniform.
What you’re left with is a rudimentary watch roll that may not look top notch but is every bit as functional. The canvas is a decent protective material that won’t leave marks on the watches and won’t fray or rip easily. With that being said, I’m not sure I would be comfortable tossing this roll into a suitcase with all of my watches touching each other.
The total cost of this project including the thread was around $15. Though the amount of canvas you get for $10 could make five or six of these rolls. This roll won’t win any design awards but the functionality was what I was looking for.