Why We Mod #002: Alex Yap (@nafokies)
We're kickstarting a series of interviews where we speak with modders in the community and try to figure out the answer to the question - Why do we mod?
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to pick the brain of Alex Yap. Alex (otherwise known as "Nafokies") is a household name in the modding community, and his bold and creative builds are always a sight to behold. Knowing him personally, it's immediately apparent that Alex isn't one to follow trends - he'd much rather be setting them.
Let's get to know the man behind Nafokies a little better.
Glen: What was the first watch that got you into watches as a hobby?
Alex: A used Sumo SBDC003 back in 2016, I changed the insert. It was my first Seiko diver watch.
Glen: Did that also get you interested in modding watches?
Alex: Well, the Sumo SBDC003 I bought wasn’t in mint condition.
There were scratches on the bezel insert and Hardlex crystal. So, 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, it was a success in the end.
"...after observing how quick and simple the process was, I got this crazy idea of modding it myself."
Above: The Sumo that started it all (Credit: instagram.com/nafokies)
Glen: What kind of aesthetic/look do you go for when modding a watch. Where do you get inspiration from?
Alex: I prefer the watch to have a bold yet balanced look overall. I tend to come up with my own ideas, rather than copying others. Always think outside the box, imagination is the key.
"Always think outside the box, imagination is the key."
Above: MM300 x Brian May mod, using our prototype MM300 case (Credit: instagram.com/nafokies)
"It wasn’t easy to source for compatible, good quality aftermarket parts in the beginning."
Glen: What's the hardest part about modding a watch? Could be technical/installation related, or design-related, or something else?
Alex: Back in those days when there weren’t many options on mod parts, I rarely faced any difficulties due to technical or installation.
But as technology advances, we now have tonnes of mod parts available in the market, which unfortunately also leads to quality and reliability issues. It wasn’t easy to source for compatible, good quality aftermarket parts in the beginning. It took quite a while for us (supplier and modders) to finally achieve a satisfactory result.
Of course there will still be QC issues every now and then, but at least we can now rectify the issue easily.
Above: Fully custom design by Alex (Credit: instagram.com/nafokies)
Glen: What's something that you wish people who weren't into watches/modding watches knew about our hobby?
Alex: I wish they could just spend some time to find out a little bit more on what we actually like about this hobby.
It's a rather healthy hobby, I get to create a "masterpiece" based on my preferred design, and not just (buy) something "off the shelf".
Glen: Imagine you could design your dream watch build - what would that look like?
Alex: Hmm, I definitely would like to re-create a bullhead design as my dream watch. The crown must be at 12 or 6 o’clock.
Above: The Seiko Bullhead (https://www.fratellowatches.com/tbt-seiko-bullhead-6138-0040/)
"There are so many young and talented modders nowadays, I believe this community will continue to grow constantly in years to come."
Glen: As someone who's been modding for a while now (and built up a strong reputation in the scene as well), how do you see the modding trends changing in the next few years?
Alex: Throughout the years, I’ve seen a massive growth in modding communities. There are so many young and talented modders nowadays, I believe this community will continue to grow constantly in years to come.
Glen: Do you have a grail watch?
Alex: Paul Newman Daytona.
Let's just say i don't really have a grail watch, so I might as well set up one which I know for sure I won't get... Forever a grail watch for me 😂
Above: The grail watch of many a horologist (Credit: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-25/trying-on-paul-newman-s-actual-legendary-paul-newman-daytona)
Thank you Alex for taking the time to speak with us. If you're into Seiko modding (and if you've read til here, that's a pretty safe assumption!), you'll want to follow Alex on his Instagram page: @nafokies.
If you'd like to be a part of this series, reach out to us at email@example.com.