Why We Mod #004: Nathan Goodrich (@four_forty_four_pm)
It's the fourth edition of Why We Mod, and it seems only fitting that we dedicate Why We Mod #004 to someone who has a penchant for the number 4.
Today we speak with Nathan, who goes by the moniker 4:44PM. If that name rings a bell, it's probably because you've seen Nathan's builds on social media (definitely check out his Instagram page if you haven't already), or on the Seiko Mods subreddit. Nathan has made a name for himself with his clean, well-executed watch builds.
On to the interview!
Glen: Hi Nathan! First off, something I’ve always personally been curious about - what’s the story behind the name 4:44PM?
Nathan: Hi Glen! Well, let me tell you that you’re not the only one who is curious about this. You’d be surprised how often I get asked what the meaning of the name 4:44PM is.
Above: Meet Nathan (4:44PM), who's currently in the zone. Installing a crystal takes focus! (credit: Nathan Goodrich)
Nathan: You see, I was born at 4:44PM, and throughout my entire life there is rarely a day that I don’t see this specific set of numbers somewhere.
In numerology this set of numbers (444) means many things; such as protection, encouragement, guidance, and a sign that you are on the right path. It also means that you have an angel always with you and watching over you.
So when I decided to pick a name I thought what better than 4:44PM since that is literally when time began for me.
Glen: What was the very first watch that got you into watches as a hobby?What was so significant about it?
Nathan: I’ve had many watches throughout my life and Seiko has always been my favorite watch brand. So it’s no surprise that the watch that started me down this path of watches as a hobby would be the SKX007.
Above: The legendary SKX007. Seen here in stock, fresh out of the box form. (Credit: Hodinkee)
Nathan: When I bought my first SKX007, I did so because I thought it was the same model as an SKX I had owned in the late 90s that I had lost. I was so excited, because I thought I finally had found that same model again.
Above: Seiko SKX007 next to a SKX173. Spot the difference! (Credit: Drazen B via Flickr)
Nathan: It wasn’t until I found an old photo of me wearing my watch from the 90s and was able to magnify the photo and see the watch up close, that I realized it was actually an SKX173. Since finding this out, I have acquired six SKX173s just to make sure I never lose one again.
Glen: Better safe than sorry huh! Can you recall what first got you interested in modding watches?
Nathan: Yes, it was by chance.
I happened to be scrolling through my Instagram one day and came upon the account of Jeff Macie (@watchmakers4) and was amazed at how he was transforming Seikos, especially divers, into these totally unique and awesome creations.
Above: No wonder Nathan (4:44PM) was inspired. Beautiful photo, beautiful mod from @watchmakers4 (Credit: @watchmakers4 on Instagram)
Nathan: I shared some of the photos on his account with my brother, who is also a huge Seiko fan, and he encouraged me to try modding my own watch. Needless to say, I followed his suggestion. And that’s how my journey into the world of watch modding began.
Glen: You’ve been offering your watch modification services for a while now. What’s the most memorable build you’ve ever executed for a customer?
Nathan: Oh wow, there have been so many watches that I’ve modded over the last few years.
I have modded watches for so many interesting clients, such as doctors, dentists, nurses, law enforcement officers, photographers, CEOs of corporations and so many others.
Above: SKX Yachtmaster build with a splash of orange. 4:44PM's build for Matt Heafy (Credit: Nathan Goodrich)
Nathan: They have all been memorable and so much fun, but I think the one that stands out in particular would have to be a custom ground-up build that I did for Matt Heafy who just happens to be the lead singer of the heavy metal band Trivium. Matt is also a watch collector and huge fan of Seiko watches. That was a really cool experience.
Glen: Very very cool! Do you happen to have any funny or ridiculous modding experiences that you'd like to share?
Nathan: Oh yeah, there have been many experiences like this.
I’ve had clients tell me that their watch is new, and they would like to have it modded. Then when it arrives, it is a frankenstein-ed watch that is barely running. (Editors Note: A Frankenstein-ed watch is a watch that's put together with various bits and bobs. Not a negative thing in and of itself, but definitely not what you should be receiving when you're purchasing a new watch)
I’ve also had clients send in watches that are already modded, but they don’t like how it looks and want to change it. When it arrives I’m shocked at what I find sometimes.
I’ve also had clients send in watches they say are genuine Seiko, and I have to break the news to them that their watch is knockoff. They are so surprised to learn that there are Seiko knockoffs on the market.
Above: Yes, folks. Fake Seikos are a thing. (Credit: Watches Guild)
Nathan: Sometimes I just have to laugh and unfortunately tell the client that I can’t help them with their watch. However, for the most part, I always do my best to try and find a way to try and work with the client, and get them a watch they will be happy to wear.
I know how much I obsess over watches, so I can understand how disappointing it would be to not be able to have my vision of the watch I desired to have come to fruition.
"I always do my best to try and find a way to try and work with the client, and get them a watch they will be happy to wear."
Glen: What's the hardest/most frustrating part about modding a watch? Could be technical/installation related, or design-related, or anything else.
Nathan: I honestly think that getting a hold of OEM genuine dials is the hardest/most frustrating part about modding a watch.
Above: SKX007 build with a beautiful mother of pearl dial. Definitely the centerpiece of a watch! (Credit: Nathan Goodrich)
Nathan: I think of the dial as the centerpiece of the watch, it’s what draws my attention and focus to the watch and then I admire how the case and all the other components of the watch come together to enhance it’s appearance. So when I'm setting out to build a watch it is usually based on a dial that I’ve seen and when I can’t easily obtain that dial it can be quite frustrating to say the least.
"I think of the dial as the centerpiece of the watch, it’s what draws my attention and focus to the watch."
Glen: How do you see the scene progressing in the next 3-5 years. Any predictions?
Nathan: I definitely think this scene, being that it is such a great one, and consists of a community of such cool and awesome people who all share a love of watches, will continue to grow and become more and more popular. Watch people are the best, everyone knows that!
I predict that the aftermarket mod parts market will continue to grow and that suppliers will probably start to create more ways to get dials that are custom designed and made for the client.
I think that the focus of watch modding won’t necessarily be based around one brand of watches. One thing that’s for sure is that this hobby is never going to get boring or lose popularity amongst it’s community.
"I think that the focus of watch modding won’t necessarily be based around one brand of watches."
Glen: Imagine you could design your dream watch build - walk us through what that would look and feel like.
Nathan: Funny you should ask this as I think I may have just finished my dream build as of a couple of days ago.
Above: Nathan (4:44PM)'s dream build... At the time of this interview ;) (Credit: @four_forty_four_pm on Instagram)
Nathan: It is a black SKX to SRP “Turtle” conversion case build that I did using the new black “King Turtle” dial and a Seiko “Turtle” handset with brushed finishing. I made the watch look very much like a traditional “Turtle” diver, but with the black case and olive drab Zulu strap I paired it with it makes it appear very much like a military styled watch.
When it comes to my taste in watches, I tend to gravitate towards pieces that are very simplistic in design but very heavy in military styling. I like wearing tooly watches as opposed to ones that are dressy. I am a T-shirt and shorts/jeans kind of guy, and am always working on something and getting dirty. My watch has to be able to take that kind of abuse, and not have me stressing out over it. That’s why I like rugged pieces that fit my lifestyle.
"I tend to gravitate towards pieces that are very simplistic in design but very heavy in military styling."
Glen: Do you have a "grail watch" - and if you do, what is it?
Nathan: I used to think I had a “grail watch”, and it was the standard classic Rolex Submariner model 11610.
Above: The grail of many watch collectors - the Rolex Submariner 16610. (Credit: Bob's Watches)
Nathan: I actually bought one a few years ago, it was a millennial piece as it was made in the year 2000 and I absolutely loved it.
"... for now I am completely happy wearing the lower end stock Seikos and custom builds that I have in my collection."
But going back to (my response to) the previous question, it was just too dressy, at least for my lifestyle. I hardly wore it because I didn’t want to scratch it, which made it unenjoyable, and so I sold it.
Above: Nathan (4:44PM)'s future grail... Maybe? (Credit: A Blog to Watch)
Nathan: I suppose if I ever changed my lifestyle and wasn’t worried about scratching such an expensive watch, I would probably consider one of the new Seiko Prospex LX Spring Drive diver models as a grail, but for now I am completely happy wearing the lower end stock Seikos and custom builds that I have in my collection.
Glen: Excellent choice. Finally... Why do you mod? What do you think drives this desire to modify/build your own watch?
Nathan: Because why not? I mean this hobby is so enjoyable and relaxing to me.
I literally go to sleep at night thinking of designs that I can make, and love to decompress from the world around me by sitting down at my bench and working on watches. I usually listen to jazz or synthwave depending on my mood, and just lose myself in the joy that it brings me.
Above: Where the modding magic happens. Nathan (4:44PM)'s workspace (Credit: Nathan Goodrich)
Nathan: I get such a great sense of gratification when I complete a build, or do some simple modifications that completely transform a watch and it turns out amazing.
I think the biggest factor that drives me to mod and build watches would have to be this community that we as modders are a part of. As I said before, it is composed of such awesome people and everyone is always willing to share their builds, offer support and praise and encourage each other with their builds.
"I think the biggest factor that drives me to mod and build watches would have to be this community that we as modders are a part of."
Everyone is just so helpful and positive, and it is a great way to network with people that all share a love for watches. What more can I say?
Thank you Nathan for speaking with us! We love getting to know the community better, and it was nice to finally get to know the man behind 4:44PM. If any of you are looking for watch modding services, do check out Nathan's website.
If you're inspired to start modding or building your own watch, check out our store here. If you have a story to share and would like to be featured in this series, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Modding, Modfam!