And we’re back! If you haven’t already, please read Part I of our Introduction to Modding series, here. This week, we’ll briefly touch upon choosing a design for your mod and what tools you really need to get started. As before, this article is based on my own opinions and experience but I think serves as a good primer for anyone interested in modding their first watches.
Ok, so you’ve decided to take the blue pill and go down the rabbit hole. What next? By now you’ve probably spent an unreasonable amount of time perusing supplier pages getting worked up by all the bezel inserts and dial options. Needless to say, it can be overwhelming and at times, paralyzing to land on a design for your watch. This often results in us defaulting to a look we’re familiar and comfortable with (usually a Rolex, Omega, or even another Seiko). All of which is fine. We will still applaud and upvote you if that’s the route you choose. However, I advise you to take your time before plunking down a few hundred dollars on your parts. You’ll be amazed by how quickly your tastes will change as you become more familiar with the mods out there and the designers behind them. You’ll find new depths to your own creativity which may take you in completely different and more rewarding directions
Just buy the cheap watch kit. I know you’ve been debating with yourself whether or not to spring for the expensive tools. Don’t. Not now at least. As far as you know, you could hate this hobby. You don’t know “frustrating” until you’ve tried to install a set of hands or seat a crystal evenly and that’s after you’ve waited over a month for them to arrive. Because of this, many people quit halfway into their first mod and the last thing you want is a few hundred dollars in tools on your desk reminding you of your failures. Here’s the kit I started out with. Over time, I’ve upgraded some tools with better ones but for most mods, this will suffice. The one tool I do think is worth upgrading immediately to is a screw-down crystal press for the reasons I’ve written about here. The most underrated tool in your arsenal undoubtedly is Rodico. This putty-like material is not only extremely effective at keeping your parts free of dust (there’s a reason watches are made in hermetically sealed clean rooms) but it’s a great way to handle watch parts, as well. I’ve completely done away with tweezers in favor of a little ball of Rodico on the tip of a toothpick, a technique I stole from my favorite watch modder, @lume_shot. Lastly, get the loupe. I don’t care how good your eyesight is, everyone gets humbled by the level of precision and fine motor skills needed to manipulate watch parts. This is no more apparent when installing your first set of hands. You’ll wonder in amazement how any human could possibly affix these wafer-thin metallic flakes on something the size of a pinhead. The loupe will also help you identify and remove all the microscopic dust particles that statically cling to your parts.
Because I don’t consider myself an expert modder and because it’s boring to write/read about, I defer to the YouTubers. For the best modding practices and techniques look no further than Eric from @Lume_Shot. Eric has nearly been my singular source for all things mod related. He provides high-quality, in-depth tutorials for virtually every mod job you can perform. Do yourself a favor and watch them half a dozen times before you start your own mod. Also, visit his page for the tutorials but stay for his watch reviews. He’s a true enthusiast through and through. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on Eric’s channel, here are a few others worth visiting: Four_forty_four PM, Darak Watch, and Minit Watch. All great resources.
As a community, the modding culture still feels like it’s in its infancy which is exciting but can be difficult to get your bearings. I hope this piece helps provide some structure for people interested in pursuing this art. My best advice is to take your time and don’t rush or force anything (unless you’re trying to pop out a crystal). This is a game of millimeters and requires Buddha-like patience. I don’t meditate but I imagine modding is as close to achieving zen as I’ll get. I hope you achieve yours and good luck with your build.
CEO, Secondhand Mods