Seiko Watch
  • March 5, 2022
  • Watch Gonzo
  • 0

Some funny, not-so-funny and conflicting bits & pieces of Modding Philosophy

  • It all starts with respect. Respect the watch you’ll mod for what it is before modding Honour its rights to be treated fairly and honestly.
  • Modding is not only for those watches in which you don’t find the perfect look. It is to make a watch look your preferred way, irrespective of whether its design has won an award or not.
  • Modifications are not always about technical improvements. Most of the times, it’s just about being different from the rest.
  • Customise to broaden your visions. Not to make your modded watch look like a fake.
  • What you (and sometimes, others) see in your mod is a reflection of yourself.
  • We humans create the mods. Then we question about the authenticity of modded watches.
  • You may paint your watch pink or cover it in leather or chicken feather as you wish. None holds the rights to call you wrong. Maybe tasteless or tasteful – at the most – but never morally culpable.


Foraying into the world of watch customization

SeikoThis is the stage where the entire process appears unbelievably complicated, time-consuming – stress-inducing, too! That applies both mentally and physically.

Trust us, as you move on, you’ll find it changing into quite the opposite. Really, the opposite!

Watch collectors and connoisseurs out there – most of them – have undergone a watch-modding phase, sooner or later in their years-long quest for exotic timekeeping devices. Some took it as an offer – a chance – to breakdown and rebuild anew a dream watch; with or without crossing parameters while some never went beyond changing the bezel insert. Surprisingly, they number almost equal!

The larger collective hovers in the vast mid-range and there are quite a few surprises to achieve here.

So you’ll find a blacked-out Rolex cohabiting with a Kraken-dialled Seiko or a Flieger watch on a leather bracelet as much as a dress watch hung from a neck-chain. However, all those must never be tried till the warranty holds! It turns void when you mod a watch.

Always remember: Don’t try to build something dramatically different from what’s offered by the manufacturer. Better buy the one that complies with your wants/needs or something closer to what you want. Watch modding practiced irresponsibly by a reasonably intelligent person with fairly good taste is an unforgiving act no watch lover (even them not watch lovers) shall tolerate or endorse. A terrible modding is the sign of profound, intellectual laziness.

Modds like putting a tachymeter scale in a dress watch or a Roman-numbered dial in a diver are absolutely ridiculous; similar other weird modifications in every way imaginable are a man and his intelligence parting fast. Young people almost always believe that unusual is good; they must become aware of the kinds of modding that ruin an otherwise solid grounding or a solid value. You can’t back that up with any other reason than your own ignorance.

Alright, rant done! That much of pre-mod professing will be enough to set you on the journey towards a land of reasonable la-la-s.

Modding is no miracle

Still, if done really well, the results are nothing less than miraculous. Especially with Seiko, given there are a vast range of aftermarket parts available. Whether an amateur; a novice or a seasoned modder, every watch fanatic, when it comes to customise a piece, no other watches than a Seiko – especially the SKX line – represents the prime real estate for watch modders better. That’s because the flexibility this range of Seiko diver timepieces offer makes your Seiko to get (ahead) with the times or come as a throwback to an age long gone by.

Why mod yours Seiko?

Modding doesn’t just enhance the visual aspects of your Seiko, it lets you own something that’s distinctly your own. While the brand and its movements are big things to watch connoisseurs, the pride of owning a piece with distinct qualities is much, much greater.

Modding, if done correctly, increases the value of your watch; not just Seiko, but any watch; no matter how famous or obscure it is. Whether you just change the crystal from acrylic to sapphire or change an entry-level movement to a higher-grade, higher-beat movement – you will also increase its value; more than just adding decorated parts to it.

However, the value will increase tenfold if the modded parts also bear the brand name of the manufacturer – for now, it’s SEIKO – inscribed.

Know how and what you can modify in your Seiko

Modding your Seiko – especially the SKX – can include anything from changing the hands to a different style to changing the date wheel and the rotor or maybe even adding anti-reflective and water-resisting coats. All these alterations, albeit positive, do not alter the value of your SKX too significantly, however; if you can afford, replace the visible metal parts with solid gold, titanium or platinum and see the value of your SKX skyrocket in no time, provided it works as a Seiko is expected to post-modifications.

The modifications fall under three distinct categories:

  • As homage: To the Marine Master, the Submariner and even, the Fifty Fathoms. What you’d be commonly replacing for the purpose is the dial, the bezel, the hands and maybe, the crown and case back.
  • As a mash-up: You can take different components/elements from different watches and put them up together. The only thing you need to be aware of is: Your modded Seiko should not look like a single poetry with every line written by a different poet. Let’s try it here instead. It’s less expensive than trying on a watch.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (Shakespeare)

Ethereal minstrel! Pilgrim of the sky! (Wordsworth)

Summer, oft pitched’st here thy golden tent, (Blake)

And all thy heart lies open unto me. (Tennyson)

Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Even if it does, it doesn’t rhyme, despite all being written on the theme of summer. Neither shall your watch! You got to choose aftermarket parts that do not conflict with each other or with the watch and create instead an enviable mix of refinement, elegance and style.

  • As a personalized piece: You’ll inscribe your watch’s case, case back or dial with some memorable quote or a few words that’ll describe the memory or you may also put that on the rotor or on the bridges. However, most will need professional help to get those inscribed on the metal pieces. Even replacing a solid case-back with a transparent one with initials on it is personalization!

Give your imagination a freehand: The rules of thumb

  • Find parts with the right specs.

Out of the many reasons, Seiko also stands out among the rest with the availability of matching, aftermarket parts for which, you don’t need to run from pillar to post. Whether you want to show your national pride or sport the colours of your favourite foot ball team, finding matching parts for your Seiko watch modding is the last thing you need to worry about.

  • Don’t rush a mod job

Go slow but not unnecessarily slow. That will make you lose your focus! Just a moment’s distraction is enough to throw hours-long efforts out of the window. Stay double- even triple – careful if your modding involves the mechanisms. The crystal, bezel; the crown or the case-backs are comparatively easier to mod; same with the strap or the bracelet! Nevertheless, unless everything fits hand-to-glove, you’re in for big trouble, sooner or later.

  • For Grail-Watch/homage modifications

One of the current trends – you got to find parts that will bring you that expensive look. When you want your Seiko to look like a Rolex Submariner or an AP Royal Oak or the Patek Philippe Nautilus, using cheap copies of the original bezels, glasses, bracelets, dials, hands etc are discouraged. The SeikOak or the SeikoNaut must look as close as possible to the real things.

  • For Open Heart/Skeleton dial mods (trending since 2021 and still), choose dials that are more than just holes cut out in them. Additionally, you also might need to change the hands to suit the new look
  • Pilot and field watch mods bring a very instrument kind of look to your Seiko and this modification will enhance the legibility of your watch. It should also be fitted with a large-sized crown (for easy operability with glove-clad hands), NATO straps and a compass bezel. Alternatively, it can also be a leather/steel strap/bracelet and a world time bezel for the pilot As for the case, you’ll get them aftermarket in a wide range of colours including black, which will make your watch undergo also a stealth mod. In that case, choose black lume for the hands and hour indices.

On to the modding

Subtle and classic modding involves a simple shuffle of dial elements, colours and hands with or without changing the colour and finish of the case; or a changed bezel (or insert); crystal or crown or bracelet/strap. You might even alter all of them if that’s what you think you need to make the watch hit the right notes. Then it won’t be qualified as a subtle mod; it will tend more towards the heavier side.

For heavy modifications (everything except for the movement), you’ll require studying available components and their designs deeper. A heavily modified watch with incorrectly matched components is a disaster; even if they are Rolex hands or crystals or the dial.

Nothing matters much if uniformity and consonance are lost.

Get your hands on the tools; we are going to see some action. Try them first with any watch that has stopped working. An SKX that has gone defunct is a rare find.

Out of the tool list we presented last time, pick the case-back removers (both types), case holder, the crystal presser, hands-remover, hands-setter, dust blower, wooden picks, tweezers, pin-removal tool and screwdrivers.

Gloves/Finger Cots are the extra material you’ll need here and a reasonably big, dust-free workspace. You’ll need enough room to keep the loose parts in your view. It saves a lot of time as well.

Generic Seiko SKX mods to start with

  1. Strap/bracelet changing: Assuming you’ve read about the tools and their uses last time, take the appropriate tool and compress the flanges on the existing strap. Pull it out gently. Do the reverse and put the new strap/bracelet
  2. Case back opening/changing: Pick the case opener wrench to securely hold to the grooves and turn. The movement is now exposed but this isn’t the right time for the real fun. Use a case holder for the purpose.
  3. Removing Crown and Stem: The crown transfers its inputs to the watch mechanism through a stem, both of which you are going to remove. The winding stem comprises many different surfaces (cylindrical pivots, a square end, cut out for engaging posts to engage), so you need to be careful. They all are all integral to the watches normal functioning. Its threaded section is where the crown attaches. The other end is square and interlocks with the winding and setting mechanisms. The crownand stem release is a small lever, just to the side, that must be pressed gently while the crown is pulled free. Push on the lever with a sharpened peg wood to easily remove the crown and stem. The little lever normally moves out when you move the crown to the neutral position to reveal the tiny circular indent, which you depress to remove the stem.
  4. Removing the movement from the case: Nudge the movement gently with a peg wood and take it out of the case. Now, you are free to go whichever way you want to. You may change the hands, dial, crystal; crown and case back from this point on.
  5. Change the hands: Use the hand removal tool to pull them out. Put the hour hand in first and set it to 12. Hold it down with tweezers and apply the minute hand — also to 12H. Now, apply the seconds-hand.
  6. Change the dial: Use a flathead screwdriver to lift the existing dial from the plastic bracket and align the new dial’s legs with the holes on the plastic bracket. Fix firmly.
  7. Replace the crystal: Use a crystal removal tool to gently punch out the stock crystal. Apply the new crystal, and level it with gentle pressure into the case. The crystal gasket should be flush with the case or sit just below the top of the case. It should not stick out from the case. Once you have your crystal gasket installed you can find what size crystal you need.
  8. Change the bezel: The bezel staying just snapped-on to the case, you need to simply pry it off. Take a watch case knife; insert the blade all the way into the notch at 12 o’clock between the bezel and the case and apply some force. This will pry the bezel off. If you don’t have the finger strength to carry this out, a crystal press can help you do this with ease.Install the new bezel simply by pressing it onto the case. Put the case flat on the surface. Press one side of the bezel in first and then press the rest in. Check if the click spring between the bezel and the case is in place before you press the new bezel in. If done correctly, it should be possible now to rotate the bezel.If you’re just changing the bezel insert, just peel off the adhesive tape at the back of the insert; align the 12 o’clock of the insert with that of the bezel and stick the insert onto it. Work the whole circle to make sure the insert is applied firmly onto the bezel. To take the older one off prior putting in the new one, use a sharp blade or a scalpel. Place its tip between the bezel and the insert and gently work the blade back and forth to separate the insert from the bezel, held together by adhesive. Slowly work your way around the insert until it is fully separated. Clean remnants of the old adhesive before putting in the new insert.

9. Put back the movement into the case: Press the movement firmly into the case. Take care that it is aligned properly with the case.

10. Return the crown and the stem to their places: Gently push the other end of the lever with a screw driver and play Step III in reverse. Make sure the gasket stays in place.

11. Put the case-back on: Apparently, this is simple but in case you’ve stretched even slightly the seal (O-ring) between the case back and the case, change to a new one. Else, there’s a high chance that water resistance will suffer.

Conclusion: Mod tender, mod sweet

Seiko watches are versatile when it comes to modding. It is very easy to make them look different – especially those from the SKX series – and more interesting than what they are in reality. All you need for that is good aftermarket parts, lubricants and tools and a fair bit of patience and dexterity. Now, if you’re wondering why there are no mentions of lubricant and sealing grease in this article, stay tuned for we will soon bring you entire chapters on those and their uses in the watch-universe.

Keep dropping in to leave your replies below. State which one of the above mentioned you’d like to go for the most and also, for what?