Nafokies and Seiko Fans: Questions and Answers from our Discord AMA
Last Saturday, Alex Yap of @Nafokies hosted an Ask Me Anything session in our namokiMODS community server over on Discord. For the better part of an hour, he was live and answering Seiko modding questions for members. Insights from an experienced professional modder does not always come for free, but we are glad to be able to hold the event for our community!
Here are the questions and answers from the AMA, starting with a mystery resolved:
Brozerk: Always wondered - is there any story behind the nickname "nafokies"?
Alex: It stands for SeikoFan in reverse.
We’re sure many followers have been wondering about this for a while, but Alex’s online moniker is a wordplay for what he is: a true blue fan of Seiko watches. In fact, the name namoki is short for “namokies” which is Seiko man reversed. Perhaps any account with a username ending in “Okies” and is related to watches all have the same origin?
Questions about Seiko Modding
DemiMasa: What's the best hand-setting tools? I mean without leaving any marks on the handset?
Alex: Best practice is to constantly clean the tips of the hand setting tools, you can consider getting the nylon tip type
Disturbd: Any recommendations on dial/dust cleaner outside the grey/green bergeon putty?
Alex: I use the green to clean up the dial. As for smudge, I use Zippo lighter liquid to wipe it off
Zippo Lighter Fluid: Lights cigarettes and cleans Seiko dials
Punchabear: Best way to keep dust out of your workspace? I've been looking at air filtration systems haha
Alex: I did most of my mod in my living room (air conditioned). Having a clean room might be a bit overkill but you might wanna consider getting a good dust blower, rodico to clean up before casing.
Source: The Watch Site
Scratching dials is not a very uncommon accident when setting the hands of a watch. Dial protectors are one way to avoid scratches, but simply being careful with your tools should be enough.
Clean tools are a must when modding, and a clean environment to work in is equally important. You do not want to have dust or dirt inside the watch after you encase it, as dust can speed up the wear and tear on your watch from the inside. It can also look bad under observant eyes, so just like in surgery, keep your tools and workplace clean!
Citizenband: I think most entry level modders start out with a very basic tool set and upgrade as they get more into it. Which tool would you recommend upgrading first? Something like brass tweezers or a bergeon screwdriver set… like this.
Alex: I would recommend a good bezel removal tool (bergeon), a decent knob type crystal press (Horotec or bergeon), and manual hand setting tools. As for tweezers, it depends on the application. Use brass tweezers on delicate/ scratch prone surfaces or parts. The rest you can simply use stainless-steel tweezers. Make sure to de-mag(netize) the tweezers every now and then.
A complete tool kit might be too expensive to upgrade. Start upgrading the tools you use the most before moving on to specialty tools.
Neiko: As someone who did my first mod ever yesterday, I noticed that this is expensive fun. Now that I've done my first build, I can’t wait to do more. So, my question to you is, what are some good ways to practice different things in watch modding without breaking the bank or ending up with a lot of trial-and-error watches?
Alex: Good question. I would recommend getting a used or beat up skx case for a start. Keep using the same case to practice over and over again (Assemble, disassemble using different parts). Pay more attention to more difficult mods such as crystal installation, hands setting, bezel removal.
There is no need to splurge on tools so soon after you start this hobby. It can get expensive real fast unless you pace yourself so Alex recommends practicing on old parts, and to keep reusing the parts until you are confident enough to work on more complicated builds.
He also recommends upgrading the tools that matter first, which include a bezel removal tool, a crystal press, and good tweezers. Indeed, choosing lower quality tools may result in low quality mods. You may even end up with damaged parts if you chance upon non-reliable tools, so consider the quality of your tools carefully!
Beardguy87: Hey! First off, thanks for sharing your modding knowledge.
- Any advice for someone who's about to do their first mod (build from scratch, to be more precise)? Any rookie mistakes that can be easily avoided? Or something you wish you knew going into your first mod?
- What was your most challenging mod/build? Be it skills demanded, or scarcity of parts.
- All videos of movement servicing show the stem being oiled before final installation, but I haven't seen this done on mod/build videos. Is this something that just gets cut in video editing? Or is oiling something that is not necessary? And shouldn't be a concern.
Applying oil to the movement. Source: Esslinger
Alex: Hi beardguy87, for question 1, you can refer to https://www.namokimods.com/blogs/namokitimes.
You will find a lot of useful tips especially for 1st time modders.
For question 2, hand setting (especially second hand) is the most challenging part for me. Some mods can be quite challenging if they require certain modifications on the parts.
For question 3, Oiling of stem or other parts of the movement is required when we overhaul or service a movement. For stems in particular, we should oil them to ensure good quality and prevent friction in the mechanism.
About Alex and his Personal Preferences
Punchabear: I'm sure everyone wants to know how you got into modding too, what's the story there?
Alex: I started my 1st mod when I bought a used sumo sbdc003 and found out there were scratches on the bezel insert and Hardlex crystal. I decided to look for replacements for those parts. I went to a local watch smith for the crystal replacement and after observing how quick and simple the process was, I got this crazy idea of modding it myself. Later that night, I spent a few hours trying to mod my own bezel insert and it was a success in the end. That’s how I started my mods journey.
Like many other modders that we talked to, falling into the modding hobby all started with a desire to change a single part in the entire watch mechanism. Once one finds out how simple it can be to change parts, it quickly becomes a rabbit hole, and unlimited combinations will start popping off in your imagination.
Beardguy87: Regarding dial designs. Do you prefer the look of a diver dial without numerals? Or a numbered dial, like a pilot or field look?
Alex: I am a hardcore diver watch fan, so I prefer the lumed triangle, rectangular and circle indices over numbers with 1 exception, the srp043 Spork dial
A Spork Dial, easily identifiable by its unusual date window placement.
Citizenband: Recently, fabricators are getting more creative with the parts they offer. Maybe it’s a new finish option on a case, a totally new bezel design, or a unique dial. Is there anything you wish existed that doesn’t yet?
Alex: We as modders love new stuff. So we can always give feedback to our suppliers such as Namokimods about our ideas or designs. They welcome bold and out of the world designs with open arms.
I've always dreamt of having a NE88 bullhead mod, so it's definitely not something we can design overnight but I am confident that we will get there soon.
A bullhead watch is a chronograph with the crown and pushers on the 12hr area. Source: Monochrome Watches
The Seiko modding landscape evolves pretty quickly. New trends come up almost every month, sometimes brought forth by modders and their wild ideas. Sometimes, suppliers themselves come up with unique new designs that serve as inspiration for the modders. And in other times, new trends are a result of a collaboration between these two parties.
Glennnnn: What else do you mod besides watches? What similarities/differences are there when it comes to modding cars vs watches?
Alex: I recently got myself into car mods, a lot to learn. Both are very satisfying and addictive, but cars seem to have limited mod parts available unlike watches. Oh, and cars cost a lot more
Glennnnn: Favorite non-SKX007 model to mod and why?
Alex: Has to be the mm200, I like the design, size, shape and weight overall.
What's not to like? Source: Yeoman Seiko
Hanzho: Hey man! What do you think separates hobbyist/"bad" modders from professional/"good" ones?
Alex: Imho, there are no good or bad modders. Practice makes perfect, so practice more and we will be able to achieve satisfactory results.
Citizenband: What’s the best piece of advice for transitioning from a hobbyist to modding/building for clients, beyond friends and family?
Alex: I started off as a hobbyist few years ago and I still consider myself as a hobbyist today. Nothing much has or will change if we continue to put in our effort, love and passion when building a watch for ourselves, friends, family or customers. You will eventually end up being part time or full time modder given time.
Marcleong: Hi Alex, you seem busy nowadays, what have you been up to? Missing your mods
Alex: I've been busy building some group watches. Hope to catch up with you soon, keep up the good work!
namokiMODS Discord Events
If you were one of the attendees reading this, we hope you had a great time, and thank you for participating! If you were not able to attend, we hope you’ll be available for other upcoming events!
We will prepare more events for our community to enjoy and benefit from, and we hope it helps move the craft forward. If you're still not part of our server, click here now to join.
See ya, modfam!