Checklist for building a full watch: What parts do you need exactly?
We've all been there. You start off with a Seiko SKX007, and after a few months you decide that you want to upgrade from the stock Hardlex mineral glass to a nice, shiny domed sapphire crystal. And while you're at it, why not swap in a new set of watch hands?
This scratches the itch for a while, until you feel the burning desire for a movement upgrade (Mmm hacking and winding...), which of course means that you need a new crown and stem as well! And now that we're here - why not show off that newly installed movement with a display caseback?
When you've finally reached the bottom of this slippery slope, you look back and realise that the original SKX007 you've bought no longer exists. Ship of Theseus, anyone?
If you're going to be parting out everything on your SKX007 (or whatever watch you started with) anyway, it might make more sense if you just start a full watch build from scratch. This might seem a little intimidating at first, but we promise you it's really not.
We'll be sharing a checklist of all the parts you'll need for a full watch build, so that you can make sure you have everything you need to build that watch you've always dreamed of.
If you only want to know what parts you need, here's the checklist -
Checklist of Parts
- Watch Case
- Chapter Ring
- Bezel Insert
If you'd like to know a bit more about each part and the function it serves, keep on reading.
Breakdown and Explanation of Parts
This is the blank canvas that you'll be starting with. Do you want a regular SKX007-style case? Or something a little different, like our 3 o'clock crown-guard case? Do you want it to be polished, PVD matte black, or sandblasted? Choose wisely, as this will set the tone for the rest of the parts that you'll be selecting for your build.
Most cases should come bundled with a click spring (ours does!), which will allow your bezel to click into place when it's being rotated.
The caseback screws on to... That's right! The back of your case.
Some interesting options to consider would be a Sapphire Display Caseback, which will let you peek at your movement as it ticks and tocks. If you'd like to reduce the overall thickness of your watch, you can also opt for our popular slim caseback.
In this scenario, the chapter ring is a ring that sits on the inner circumference of your watch case, sandwiched between the crystal and your watch dial.
Chapter rings come in many different designs, but generally they are printed or engraved with minute markers that will help you see precisely where your watch hands are pointing.
Do note that if you choose a chapter ring with markers, there is a possibility that it will not be completely aligned with the dial markers and bezel insert markers due to tolerance and fitment concerns. It unfortunately happens even with OEM Seiko watches - even parts made from different batches may have slight misalignments even if they were made in the same factory. If you want to avoid this, sterile chapter rings are your friend.
Also referred to as the "watch face". If the watch case is the canvas, then the dial must be the centerpiece. It's probably going to be one of the first things that someone notices when they glance at your watch.
You'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to dials. The dial plays an important role in dictating the kind of style you want to achieve - do you want a dive style watch with bold and highly legible indices? A classic pilot/flieger style watch? Or are you after a more refined, dressy watch with polished hour markers?
Hugely critical when it comes to telling the time - watch hands are an absolute must. They come in all shapes, sizes, and finishes.
It would be a nice touch to match the colour of your hands to something else - Gold hands to suit a gold watch case, or a seconds-hand with a red tip as an accent colour to match the red triangle of your bezel insert. Keep it subtle and tasteful!
Due to the prevalence of Submariner-inspired mods, the most popular choice of hands are the Mercedes hands. The next best-seller is the MarineMaster hands which is a utilitarian yet still tasteful look.
Need a guide on how to swap your watch hands? Click here.
The watch crystal, or watch glass, sits on top of the case and protects the fancy dials and hands you've chosen for your watch.
The most common material that watch crystals are made from is mineral glass. This is what the SKX007 (and many other Seiko watches) come from the factory with. Mineral glass is a lot more scratch resistant when compared to cheaper materials acrylic, but it still scratches relatively easily.
The most desirable material when it comes to crystals would be sapphire crystal, which happens to be the material that the crystals that we sell are made from. Sapphire crystal is extremely scratch resistant, and is not prone to being shattered. For these functional reasons, as well as the desirability of sapphire crystals to consumers, most high-end watches will come with sapphire crystals out of the box.
If you're not sure which type of crystal you should get for your watch, here's a handy guide to get you started.
We sell "external bezels", which are bezels that are installed on top of the watch. There are internal bezels as well - you can see this being used on watches like the Seiko Alpinist.
If you're not using a pilot bezel, you'll need to pair your bezel with a....
Bezel inserts are pretty self explanatory - they're inserts that sit on top of your bezel. While bezel inserts look beautiful, they often also have very practical uses. You can use a Dual Time style bezel insert to track two different time zones (so you don't try to do a Zoom call at 3am with your colleague who works remotely). You can use a diver style insert to track how long your food's been in the microwave for. Like we said - very practical uses!
And if you're looking for something extra flashy, we've recently added glass bezel inserts that, as the name suggests, features a glass over the bakelite insert. It's a great look that is a must to add to any vintage-inspired mods!
While one could argue that the dial is the soul of your watch, the movement is most definitely the heart. The movement, or caliber, is the mechanism that keeps your watch ticking.
The movements that we sell, such as the NH36A pictured above, are of the Automatic variety. Automatic movements function by transferring kinetic energy from the wearer's wrist to drive the mechanism inside the watch.
Our movements come in black or white, and you can also choose between Kanji or Arabic text for your day wheel. Want a really unique looking movement? The NH70 is a skeletonized movement that looks great with skeletonized dials for a real mechanical look.
The rotor, also known as a counterweight, is a piece found at the back of the movement that swings around as you move. This winds up the movement and keeps it powered up.
All movements already comes with its own rotor, but for commonly-used movements for modding like this 7S26 and NH36, it is usually only a blank piece of metal. With the rising popularity of display casebacks, this can quickly turn boring. That's why we've released decorated rotors!
Take note: this is an entirely optional piece and is even worthless if you're sticking with a regular caseback. But if the back of your watch IS see-through, you can spice up your movement with a Great Wave pattern engraved rotor, or if you're more partial to western designs, we also have a Cote de Geneve patterned rotor that is commonly seen in high-end Swiss movements.
It may look like a mere knob, but don't forget - The watch crown is what lets you communicate with the movement inside your watch. You'll use it to change the time, day, and date. Depending on the movement, the crown can be used to wind the watch as well.
It's also an opportunity for you to add that extra bit of flair to your watch. For people who love the subtle details, a signed crown is a must - it shows that you've paid attention to the minutiae. So what if nobody else notices that there's a little "S" engraved on your crown? You'll notice it, and that's all that matters.
A watch strap is the band or bracelet that holds the watch case to the wrist. When building a full watch, it's important to choose a strap that is both durable and comfortable. They can come in a variety of configurations, such as having leather, rubber, or stainless steel material, having neutral tones to vibrant colors, as well as having different widths or lengths.
By taking the time to select the right strap for your watch, you'll be able to complete your build with a finishing touch that is both functional and stylish.
Last but not least, you'll need to keep your watch case watertight. That means you'll need a crystal and caseback gasket to keep all that nasty stuff from coming in. If you purchase a case from us, it comes bundled with both these gaskets. Our crowns and bezels come installed with gaskets as well.
Essentially, if you bought these products from us, you won't have to worry about gaskets at all.
If you've purchased from another supplier, do ensure that you have all necessary gaskets. If you require additional gaskets, we sell them here.
That's all there is to it. As we promised, it's not really that complicated once you know what you need, and the purpose each part of the watch plays. If you ever have more questions, feel free to drop us a message here and we'll be happy to give you a hand.
Update 2/1/23: Added Straps section