Some of you may have noticed that the old-time resources in this column are most useful for those doing vintage and/or restoration work. It only makes sense that older books would be useful for fixing older watches.
This month we feature four books that will help you find staffs and stems for vintage watches.
Sometimes you can just call up and order exactly what you need. Other times you find yourself hunting for parts. In yet another situation you find yourself making a part.
When it comes to staffs and stems sometimes it is easier to modify an existing part than it is to make a new one if you can find something really close. But how do you find something close?
ESA published two catalogs (one for staffs and one for stems) enumerating the dimensions for hundreds of staffs and stems readily available on the market. The listings are arranged by manufacturer and caliber, and by type and size. If you know the dimensions of the staff or stem you are looking for and haven’t been able to find it, these two books can help you find something close enough that you may be able to modify it for your watch with little effort.
Favorite also put out two smaller books for staffs and stems similarly organized.
I came across my copy of the ESA stem book from a fellow watchmaker several years ago. It was published as recently as 2001, so you can probably find a copy in your network of watchmakers. As usual, there are also copies available for loan in the AWCI library.
Many other resources also have lists of dimensions, including the Bestfit Encyclopedia of Watch Material and the Marshall Handy Manual. So when you can’t find a material house with the exact stem or staff, don’t forget to check for something very close. Perhaps they have the next best thing.