WHERE TO START?
If you’re reading this, you’re probably just like me. A watch enthusiast, maybe collector, that’s been lurking around the mod forums for a while just waiting for the right time to jump in. You probably have a lot of questions, even fears, about dabbling in watch modding. After all, we always assumed horology was something passed down from master to apprentice, a craft that took years to perfect. And it absolutely is. Working among the intricacies of a movement is not unlike navigating the complexities of a living organism. It’s surgical, precise, and requires years of intense training. That said, with a little bit of self-educating and guidance, a great deal of work can be done all on your own.
First, a disclaimer. I don’t claim to be a watch or even a modding expert. I’m just an amateur enthusiast hoping to provide a little more structure and clarity around this subject. The information I share here is solely based on my personal modding experience and research. I write this in hopes you’ll share it with others and help advance this wonderful hobby.
Modding has unearthed a form of artistic expression I never knew I had and deepened my appreciation and understanding of watches. Never mind the fact that it helps me to disconnect from my devices and get out of my own head for a while. The point being, if there’s something in here you don’t agree with or is patently wrong, please don’t skewer me but do say something! I love a healthy discussion and I’m always eager to learn more.
One more disclaimer before moving forward. Although many watches can be modified, including the venerable Rolex, for the sake of this article we’ll focus only on Seikos for the following reasons: 1) I know more about them 2) they make up the foundation of the modding community and supplier market and 3) I appreciate how accessible their watches are given their level of quality and reliability.
For years, I was a bit uncomfortable expressing my love of watches outside my fellow watch enthusiasts. It felt pretentious, privileged, and extravagant. But modding is a craft and art and for whatever reason, that makes it easier for me to talk about and even easier for others to enjoy and respect. Because it’s a Seiko, almost anyone can afford to tap into their product lineup. For as little as $70-ish dollars, one can purchase a Seiko with timeless good looks and a bulletproof automatic movement. Seiko has been pumping out a ridiculous selection of watches for god knows how long with styles ranging from the psychedelic to the subdued. Of course, prices can quickly run up from there depending on the model or mods you want to perform. All of these factors make Seiko a great watch to get you started on your modding adventure (or addiction).
WHAT WATCH TO MOD?
My advice for any beginner modder is to start with a “cheap” Seiko first, like the Seiko SNK series. A quick search on eBay, Amazon, or r/watchexchange will net you plenty of opportunities to jump into this under-appreciated, yet prolific timepiece. For many, the SNK will be their first foray into automatic watches. Measuring 37mm x 11mm, it fits a wide array of wrists and features Seiko’s workhorse movement, the 7s26, behind a really cool exhibition caseback. For the money, it’s hard to find a better deal. I know it’s tempting to jump into the more sexy and illustrious Seikos like the SKX, Turtle, or Samurai but it’s so important to hone your skills first. You’ll feel less awful when you inevitably break something on your SNK and you’ll likely spend less money in the long run.
In fact, before buying any parts, I recommend practicing by disassembling and reassembling your SNK until you know the steps and techniques inside and out. The Seiko SRPD line is another popular beginner’s watch and it’s easy to understand why. As a pseudo-divers watch, it offers more functionality in a more attractive package albeit at twice the price.
So, that covers the “why” and “what” we mod. Our next post will delve deeper into mod design and the tools needed for modding. I hope you stay tuned to this space, as we’ll cover other topics by other contributors over time. As always, thank you for your support.
Secondhand Mods, CEO