We’re still getting 365 and a quarter days per year, and yet 2021 was over too fast. Probably because we’re all preoccupied with Seiko modding, huh? But one thing that’s going faster than the time passing by is the growth of the modding community, and that’s not just counting the Namoki modfam, but the community at large.

More and more people are getting interested in this niche hobby of ours - getting curious enough to try out watch modding for themselves. And with more people in the game, we’re sure to see even more modding trends in the future.

But before we get all excited to see what the future holds, let’s first look back at the notable Seiko modding trends from last year that we think will still be popular this year. Read on to see if your favorite design trend made it to the list!

 

Rolex Homage Mods

Rolex continued to be a big influence on Seiko modding, as we saw with the numerous Submariner, Yachtmaster, GMT-Master and Explorer homages last year. These are widely recognized looks and are easy to pull off with plenty of parts available from different suppliers.

Perhaps Rolex was right to call the Sub, the “Reference Among Diver’s Watches.” The design is timeless. Perpetual. A black insert with white indices to match the black dial with white markers; ‘Mercedes’ hands, so called for the 3 spoked design on the hour hand; and a stainless steel body and bracelet.

 

Nothing Subpar about this Sub mod. Source:  @four_forty_four_pm

 

This watch will be the face of Rolex for decades to come, and many mods will be made as homage to it for just as long. It's stirred a bit of controversy, creating a Rolex out of a Seiko, and yet the mod prevails.

 

A Seiko Yachtmaster mashup. Source: @marcleong

 

We’ve also seen a lot of YM mods, referencing the Yachtmaster. You’ll recognize it by the matte insert with embossed and polished indices which frankly looks great with anything you pair it with. We loved seeing them in two tone mods, especially the black and gold two tone which was popularized by Lumeshot in this video. It was also commonly paired with a ‘Meteormaster’ dial for a watch that looks absolutely out of this world.

 

Change to a black and red insert and you got yourself a coke mod. Source: @reinhard_durst

 

The original GMT-Master look. Source: @_luxurious_ae

 

Then we have the Soda mods. You’ve seen them; the black and red Coke mods and blue and red Pepsi mods. These looks reference that of the GMT-Master watches which popularized the “insert as another timezone” concept that was a godsend for frequent business flyers and commercial pilots in the 50’s. The half-half color of the insert on the Rolex watches was quite a new look when they released too, which never stopped being popular even today.

 

Ready for adventure! Source: @moty0817

 

Lastly, we have watches built to match the concept of the Perpetual Explorer. Though much simpler in looks than the last 3 models we talked about, the Explorer undoubtedly has its own charm making it another popular modding reference. A black dial on a polished stainless steel body with a matching pilot bezel and you’ve got yourself a Seiko Explorer. And though it was meant to be a tool watch, you’d have no problem wearing this to semi-formal events.

 

Grail Watch Mods

A grail watch is something very expensive or very hard to find. For many people, this description matches the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus, two different watches from different watch brands that are spiritual brothers under the legendary designer Gerald Genta.

 

 

Head-turning designs, these two. Source: Fratello Watches

 

These watches turned horology on its head with unusual looks that captured the imagination of many enthusiasts and collectors. These days, they have captured the imaginations of watch modders as well.

Toward the latter half of 2021, cases that reference the AP Royal Oak and PP Nautilus entered the market and gave way to the majestic #Seikoaks and #Seikonauts. While this does not give people the satisfaction of owning the actual grail watch, we think they are worthy placeholders for the time being.

 

Instantly recognizable shapes. Source: Gear Patrol

 

The Royal Oak is of course known for putting the screws right on its bezel, making for a bold and bizarre look that only Genta could have pulled off. The case is also sharply edged, giving the watch an overall very industrial look. The long slender indices on its waffle dial adds to its premium presence. The crown looks like an actual nut and bolt, but don’t worry as you won’t need a wrench to adjust the time. 

 

Skeleton Royal Oak 

 

Its Seiko mod counterpart sees it with a Seiko waffle dial as an homage to the original, but you will have also seen it with open or skeleton dials, borrowing from the Openwork Royal Oak. Needless to say, the Seiko modding community understood the assignment.

 

The porthole look is one that's easy to recognize. Source: Chrono24

 

The Nautilus is another fascinating piece of haute horlogerie, being the world’s costliest steel watch of its time, beating out the golden watches of its luxury brand peers. It also has an unusual shape for the bezel, a roundish square with a beveled edge. It has a hinge on the left side as you open the watch from the front, and the watch overall looks like a ship’s porthole.

 

Looking good with green! Source: @hommeindo

 

In November 2021 we released the Nautilus-SKX conversion case which allowed modders to create their own Seikonauts from SKX007 parts. While it maintains the iconic bezel shape of the original Nautilus, our released case accepted round dials for more flexibility. Modders used all manner of dials in this case, and they somehow all look good!

 

Open Heart / Skeleton Dial Mods

Dials are the face of the watch, and somehow, they look good with holes in them. This is another modding trend from 2021 that we’d love to see more of this year. 

An open heart dial has a hole punched in it, usually on the 9H marker where you can see the rhythmically spinning balance wheel, akin to the beating heart of humans. Meanwhile, the skeleton dial is a more open dial that shows even more of the movement while having its own patterns and design.

 

A peek into the engine. Source: Millenary Watches

 

Make no mistake, the concept is not new and has been used by brands for decades. While there is not one watch that we can attribute the popularity of this design idea to, we can say that open heart and skeleton dials have exited the fad phase and will be here to stay. And seeing it slowly make its way into the modding niche is exciting to say the least!

 

Would you rather get black or white? Source: @awfulcustoms

 

namokiMODS first released a skeleton dial in partnership with @awfulcustoms as part of the Namoki X collaboration platform. The dial design was inspired by the Royal Oak and the Zenith Defy, taking the form of the Skeleton Snowflake Stealth and Light dials. Two metal layers form the shape of a snow crystal, making up the dial that is perfect for the NH35, NH38, NH70, and their Seiko OEM counterparts.

 

Skeleton dials and hands. Source: @thewatchmanmy

 

After a few weeks, we released another skeleton dial to match the facade of the NH70 / 71 / 72. The hole patterns are designed to showcase as much of the movement as possible while adding style, and it also features hour markers as a color accent.

We are seeing plenty of other skeleton dial designs being shared by the community, and we can’t wait to see what other wacky designs will appear in the future!

 

Pilot and Field Watch Mods

Pilot and field watches were very instrumental watch designs that came out during World War I. Before these types of watches were made, men carried watches in their pockets, as wristwatches were mainly seen as feminine. But since they needed to keep their hands free to operate the controls of the plane they are piloting, or to handle their firearms, they would strap the watch to their wrists with DIY straps.

 

A beautiful square pilot, the Cartier Santos is. Source: Quill and Pad

 

It is during this time that wristwatches finally became in style for men, starting with the first pilot watch and also one of the first male-specific wristwatches, the Cartier Santos. For the infantry, Bulova created the A-11 and A-17 field watches that helped greatly with coordinating missions and objectives.

It’s quite easy to mod pilot and field watches, as you need only follow these guidelines:

  • The dial and hands must be legible. Large hour markers and indices are necessary to tell the time at a glance during crucial moments while in the field or in the air.
  • The markers must be lumed which is important for night operation.
  • The crown must be large. Remember that pilots and infantrymen wore gloves, which is why the crown must be larger for them to be able to wind it.
  • NATO or Leather straps are essential to the Pilot and Field watch look. It is sturdy and dries out quickly from exposure to water and sweat. 
  • Typically, this watch would have a sterile bezel with no insert. But a GMT style insert can also work for a pilot watch.

Pilot mod with an onion case. Source: @suretimemods


Today, pilot and field watches largely look the same, just updated with modern functions and finishes that suit the needs of a contemporary man much better. Modders understand this quite well, and we’ve seen very classy mods that still stay true to the spirit of the pilot or field watch. You can even pair it with a steel bracelet and it would look good enough to wear to a semi-formal event.

 

 Khaki is the most fitting color in a field watch isn't it?

 

If you want to try a field watch mod with the color to match the theme, check out our Khaki field watch case bundle that already comes with a crystal, crown and caseback in matching olive green color. Just pick your dial and movement and you’re good to go!

All Black / Stealth Mods

‘Vantablack’ is the blackest material we know today. It absorbs more than 99% of light being shone on it which makes anything it is painted with to look like a silhouette, a void in the shape of something. If we look at something with vantablack, our brains get confused and can’t understand what it is seeing.

And we guarantee that if vantablack mod parts become available, they will fly off the digital shelves. 

Just like with any article of clothing, black looks good on watches. A black watch will match almost any attire, and the color black can be matched with any other color and it is almost guaranteed to look good. You can still add a pop of color and it will still be considered a stealth build - it can be the seconds hand being the only color red in your watch, or a gold chapter ring to break the monotony.

 

Source: @redsdesign_official

 

Black on black is also a great aesthetic, as seen in the rise of murdered out watch mods shared on Instagram. These watches are sexy. From the dial, to the insert, to the case and bracelet, each piece of the watch can be blacked out and it will still look good. Some modders even try to push the envelope and use sterile black dials with no markers at all - just a plain black slate with a date window. At this point, it’s hard to call it a watch with all the missing markers, but you still have to give props for their willingness to do the extreme!

 

If you can't get enough of black... Source: @watchfindr

 

Heck, we know how crazy people are about black mods that we released parts with black lume! It’s a new type of lume application that looks black in the light and still faintly glows in the dark. It’s not as bright as normal lume, but that’s the compromise you have to accept if you’re going for a truly stealthy look.

 

Wrap Up

And those are the big and notable modding trends of last year that we think will stay for 2022. Of course, there are a lot of trends that did not make it to this list, like square cases, Titanium mods or Meteormaster builds, but this does not mean these smaller design trends have gone unnoticed. In fact, we think there are going to be a lot more viral builds this year, and you know we’ll be here to support them.

How many of these modding trends have you followed last year? Are there any other modding styles that you liked that were not mentioned in this article? You can comment on them below!

And if you’d like to start your own modding trends but you just haven’t been inspired yet, you can check out our Facebook or Instagram where we shout out and repost some of the best mods you can find on the ‘gram. Do check out our shop as well as we release new parts from time to time, with some of them starting modding trends on their own.

Happy modding!

January 14, 2022 — Jeremiah A

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