Modding for Many: Successfully Starting Your Own Seiko Mod Business Part 1
Seiko modding is a recent phenomenon. No one can say exactly when did it start, but we can safely say that today, this small niche is starting to go mainstream. More and more watch enthusiasts are seeing the appeal of building your own watch versus buying it from the store.
But while some people want a custom Seiko for themselves, not all of them have the knack for building a watch. That’s where you, the professional watch modder, come in.
In this new namokiMODS blog series, we will share with you tricks of the trade:
- how to build your own community
- how to market your services and keep clients happy
- how to turn your hobby into a lucrative business
- and more!
By the end of this 3-part series, you will know the things you should do to help your clients find you. That’s right; you will not be looking for your customers – they should be looking for you! For part 1, we will look at how to start your journey to becoming a watch modder by profession.
We are also grateful to have the insight of professional modder Alex of @nafokies in this article. So without further ado, on to the tips!
Tip 1: Survey the Market
By this, we don’t mean you will actually have to ask people about their taste in watches. There’s no need to, because they are already sharing what they want online!
Just look up #seikomod or #namokimods on Instagram, or check our own feed, and you’ll have countless examples of modded Seikos built by long-time modders and newbies alike – all are inspiring in their own way.
Some of them pay homage to classic watches like the Yachtmaster mod or the Submariner mod. Others are original designs made possible by unique parts like the Meteormaster build, or by combining different but complementary parts like Lume Shot’s infamous Bloodmoon SKX.
We recommend familiarizing yourself with these popular builds where people are most interested in, as you will most likely be building them for clients once you decide to offer your services as a watch modder.
At the same time, you still need to separate yourself from the crowd and have a recognizable modding style to help build your brand.
@jack_hypoxia is perhaps most known for his classy blacked out mods that are accented with just the right amount of color, making for a watch that you can proudly wear anywhere. His stealth builds are so creatively varied, that even if black dominates his color swatch, they all still have their unique auras and are a pleasure to look at.
On the other hand, @nafokies likes to mix and match different themes and elements while making sure the watch does not look ‘crowded’ so he still ends up with a great-looking Seiko build. As an engineer, his knack for calculated design shows in his mods, and his followers love him for it.
Lastly, we look to @seiko_lab, whose Instagram feed is as carefully thought-out as his builds. His talent for assembling Seiko mod parts into pieces of art is very evident, and with relatively few posts he has managed to build a large community of modding enthusiasts around him.
Your own style may not come easily at the start, but just keep on building watches and your ‘signature’ should appear soon enough. Once you have found something unique that you can do that also clicks with the mod community, you’d have created a solid foundation for your modding services.
Quick tip from @Nafokies: Stay alert to the current hype. Know what sort of design and colors do the majority of watch lovers prefer most. At the same time, create unique designs or combinations and set the trend yourself.
Tip 2: Carefully consider the quality of your tools
Building a watch is not as simple as putting all the parts together.
Okay, technically it is that simple. And you’ll need tools to make the mod happen.
When someone is only starting out in the world of modding, the tendency is to focus the budget on the parts, and whatever is left will be spent on the tools. However, and especially for a professional modder, the quality of the tools is almost as important as the quality of the parts themselves.
(Source: Why We Mod #005)
Many crystals have been scratched or worse due to a defective crystal press. Many movements have been rendered useless by magnetized tweezers. Many hands have been bent because of cheap hand-setting tools that broke faster than the time it took to ship.
Low quality tools can damage your Seiko mod parts. And when they get damaged, the commissioned build gets delayed, and this will lead to cranky customers. You can avoid this by making sure you are getting the highest-quality tools you can afford.
Tools to Start With
This does not mean you need to bankrupt yourself to get the latest crystal press in the market. You can check the forums for recommendations, or watch Seiko modding videos on Youtube to see which tools they are using. You can also check our tools and spare parts section to find tools that other professionals in the modding scene are using.
We made our own list of the basic modding tools that you need to get started with Seiko modding, and you can read about it here.
If you do not want to get tools piece by piece, you can get complete repair kits on Amazon. One of the most highly recommended kits is the Bergeon 7812 Professional Grade Quick Service Watch Repair Kit in Carry Case #55-699. Bergeon is a well-known Swiss brand for watchmaking tools, and this 18-piece kit will cover most of what you need to work on a watch.
Another popular choice for a repair kit is the Vastar Watch Repair Tool Kit, which not only includes tools, but also spare parts that will come in handy for repairs and mods. Both the Bergeon and Vastar watch repair kits are available on Amazon.
Quick tip from @Nafokies: It is good to start with something basic and affordable like watch tool kits. Invest in higher quality tools once you master the skills, and don't invest in expensive tools unless you are certain that you will be fully utilizing these tools.
These are just the first two of our six tips to make sure you are starting your Seiko modding business on the right foot.
You may be tempted to just jump out and start building and selling watch mods right now, but a little preparation will help increase your chances of success.
Stay tuned for Part 2!