Does Seiko Secretly Support the Modding of their Watches?
If we can customise cars with car wraps, aftermarket wheels, and bodykits we can also do something similar to watches. Watch modification, aka watch modding, allows you to add your personality and build the watch of your dreams. From aesthetics to functionality, it gives you an opportunity to replace original watch parts with new upgrades. It’s also possible to take compatible parts from different watches and combine them on a different one.
The possibilities are endless! Source: @dynastywatches
This is a rewarding experience for tinkerers and creatives as there are countless ways to do this craft to express oneself. From the watch cases to the dials, even to the crystals and bezel inserts, you can easily make a fashion statement with your timeless piece.
Seiko has always been the watch brand of choice when it comes to modding due to its availability, flexibility, and credibility in the market.
So, does Seiko actually support the modding of their watches?
Despite its popularity, there are many misunderstandings related to Seiko mods. One of the most common questions we get about Seiko mods is whether it’s illegal to modify watch parts.
We’ll say it as many times as we need to, but modding a Seiko watch is not the same as creating a new Seiko watch. From a legal perspective, you are changing the parts of the watch and nothing more. It’s only illegal if you sell the watch and make certain allegations that would mislead a customer into believing that you’re selling a genuine, stock-from-the-factory Seiko watch.
Something you wouldn't want to be associated as.
Seiko manufactures unbranded (NH) movements based on their popular low end movements. These were intended to be used for watch microbrands but these are very easily acquired by anyone from multiple suppliers.
They sell spare parts through authorised resellers or service centers. For us, this is a sign that Seiko wants users to be able to repair or upgrade their watches by themselves, at least to a certain extent. Other brands are more strict with selling of spare parts, and may require proof of watch ownership such as asking for the watch serial number or making a 1-1 exchange for the part. Seiko is a little more relaxed when it comes to this.
They replaced the SKX007 with another mod-friendly model.
They discontinued the SKX007 (their most commonly modified watch model), and replaced it with the SRPD Seiko 5 Sports which featured hacking and handwinding; much requested features for the SKX007 successor. The SRPD series also comes in many colours and variations, and is also often used for brand collaborations, which provides people with plenty of choices - something to suit every taste. These variations have served as inspiration for many new kinds of mod designs.
Seiko has not taken any legal action against anyone in the modding scene that we know of, unlike other brands like Rolex for example, who filed a lawsuit against La Californienne after painting their dials and replacing their straps. This relaxed attitude can be taken as a subtle “we’re not mad that you’re changing our watches.” Perhaps, they may even be taking ideas from exceptionally good watch mods?
Pros and Cons for the Brand if Seiko Modding gets more attention
- More brand recognition / free marketing
Wearing a watch is also a way to convey personal style. Businesses deal with fierce competition from existing and emerging brands. With watch modding only getting more popular, especially with Seiko watches, this helps the brand to garner more attention and free marketing perks.
You get a free shirt, and they get free advertising. Source: Redbubble
When customers get some say in the overall design or finished look of a product, their satisfaction and fulfilment increases. If they have the freedom to add details and create their own design, this is going to create a lot of buzz when they share it on social media with the finished product. At the end of the day, Seiko benefits greatly from this.
- More sales on low end watches
It’s no secret that with low-end watches, it’s much easier to customise it however you like. It’s very rare for people to customise expensive watches, because if you break something it’s going to be a costly mistake. Not so with Seikos. Even if you don’t like the result of your mod, hey, it’s just a few bucks!
Imagine modding a thousand dollar Seiko and you accidentally scratch it. Source: Seekfab
A watch can look dramatically different on a leather band, metal bracelet, or textile strap. The same goes for a watch dial; Since the dial is the face of the watch, it completely changes how a watch looks. Thus, savvy shoppers who want a particular watch but cannot afford it (or find it) have the option of buying a similar-looking model that’s much cheaper and customising it to more closely resemble their dream watch.
- Revenue from sales of spare parts
From the watch dial to the crown, and so many more watch spare parts like inserts and chapter rings to build a full watch; imagine the revenue Seiko gets from sales purely for spare parts. Not many may realize this, but Seiko has indirectly supported the modding of their watches by releasing spare parts through authorised service centres and appointed dealers. They also designed their parts to be easily replaceable. This means anyone can self-repair and simply buy spare parts to do the upgrades themselves.
No need to bring them to those oh so mysterious repair shops. Source: Grand Seiko
Everybody wants to be unique. With so many watch modding communities, groups, and shops out there, there is a huge supply and demand in this market. If you’re keen to find out more on the financial aspect, take a look at SEIKO Holdings Group Value Report 2020 where they also mentioned their long term vision for 2025.
- Counterfeiting / Fraud concerns
Counterfeit watches began to impact the market a long time ago, but it certainly became easier as watch parts became more available. Anyone with the skills can make a replica of Seiko divers or Seiko mods and make a business out of it. How will consumers differentiate the real and the fake in the secondary market? Warranty is also another concern for companies.
- People may prefer mods to original Seiko offerings
Doesn't this look like an OEM, when it's not? Source: @BBMod_France
This is pure speculation, but since it’s easy to buy spare parts and low-end watches, people might end up preferring to build their watches from scratch, instead of purchasing original Seiko offerings. Just look at the available mods on Instagram and you’ll find comments like “This is how Seiko should have done it” and similar sentiments. This is where Seiko might lose out on potential sales.
Generally speaking, there are no grounds to say that Seiko wants their customers to modify their watches. We may be looking between imaginary lines, but we’re at least quite sure that Seiko is not against it.
No matter what kinds of Seiko mods you are interested in, start at namokiMODS and browse the latest products.
We offer SKX007 cases that are hard to beat, and some of the most attractive Seiko mod dials and hands in the market.
And if you have any modding questions, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.