Why We Mod #005: Billy (@bbmod_france)
In our fifth edition of Why We Mod, I chat with Billy to find out how he started modding, how his personal design aesthetic informs his commissioned builds, and what prompted him to start his YouTube channel. Read on folks - this is a good one.
Glen: Hi Billy! Before we dive into the questions, could you give us a brief introduction to the person behind BBmod?
Billy: Hi Glen! I live in France, I'm 27 years old, and started modding 3 years ago. I've been doing commissioned mods since the end of 2019.
Glen: What’s the first watch that made you realize that watches were more than just a tool for telling the time?
Billy: It was a Casio M5610-1ER. That was the first watch I could wear everywhere, such as when I was in the shower, swimming, at the gym, at work...
Above: Every watch collection needs a G-Shock Square (Source: watchspec.com)
Billy: There is a quote by Kobe Bryant which sums up my vision about watches. These are the first words we can read on my website: "Everyone looks at your watch and it represents who you are, your values and your personal style."
"Everyone looks at your watch and it represents who you are, your values and your personal style."
Billy: I think it is comparable with sneakers. The brand, the style, the specifications you choose say a lot about you.
Glen: I think that's pretty accurate. So what pair of sneakers would you say represents you?
Billy: Definitively the Air Max 1 Pinnacle Black Leather, a classic silhouette firstly marketed for running, built with top notch materials and a luxurious flavor. I love to mix sports wear with a classy look.
Above: The Nike Air Max 1 Pinnacle is the perfect mix of sporty functionality and luxe finishes. (Source: sneakernews.com)
Glen: How did you get into watch modding, and what do you love or enjoy most about the hobby?
Billy: The first watch I modded was my Casio M5610-1ER. I matched the color of the bezel with the shoes I wore when doing exercise, I found it cool... :')
Then I searched a watch with which I could exercise with, keep it under water, no need for changing batteries, scratch-resistant, AND more classy than a "poor Casio" (I love Casio). It was simply impossible to get what I wanted at my budget.
Above: With it's moderate case-size and versatile design, the Seiko Sea Urchin is a common gateway watch. (Source: Billy aka BBmod)
Billy: Then I discovered Seiko mods on forums and I found the SNZF17 (Seiko Sea Urchin). I just replaced the glass and the insert to make it more resistant to scratches, and more classy.
For less than 300€ I had my dream watch - I was ecstatic!
Billy: I sold my Casio, bought the Seiko, the tools and the parts. My passion was born. For less than 300€ I had my dream watch - I was ecstatic! After a few weeks with it, I bought a SKX007 and the modding virus got me.
Glen: Do you have any funny/ridiculous modding-related that you’d like to share?
Billy: I got 3 different customers who sent me fake Seikos. They really thought it was genuine, but I had to tell them the bad news. These three times, I proposed them to keep working on their projects, but to start from scratch.
Billy: They really appreciated the choice to choose every single part of their watch, and ended up even happier than they expected.
Glen: What's the hardest/most frustrating part about modding a watch? Could be technical/installation related, or design-related, or anything else.
Billy: To send the mod I made to it's owner when I freaking love it, and just want to wear it... (laughs)
No seriously, getting matching lume colors of the dial indices and the hands is sometimes difficult, and you can't see it in real life before you receive it.
Above: Matching the lume on the dial indices and hands is not always easy, especially if you're buying parts from multiple sources (Source: The Watch Site)
Billy: Also, I think it is really hard to visualize what the final result (of a watch build/mod) will look like. I would not be surprised if some people are already working on a solution for this. Seiko started with a tool on their website for Seiko 5, but we need it for after market parts too.
Glen: What kind of aesthetic/style do you try to go for when designing a watch for yourself? Does your own style influence the way you modify a watch for clients, or do you just build based on their requirements?
Billy: I like sober mods with not a few colors and mostly dark. The comfort of the case and bracelet/strap is the most important thing to me. You wear your watch more than your shoes after all. But the dial is, for me, the aesthetic thing that is the most important.
Above: Our black Mother of Pearl dial, beautifully incorporated into this build by BIlly. (Source: Billy aka BBmod)
Billy: I have my personal tastes, so I tend to advise my customers based on what I like in general. But not always, as some customers know exactly what they want and don't need my help at all.
When I first started working on commissioned mods, I did not discuss my customer's choices. I thought it was better not to influence them, so at the end of the day they would have the mod that they really envisioned and wanted.
Above: Designing a watch build requires thought and consideration, to ensure that the final result flows well (Source: Billy aka BBmod)
Billy: Then I did some mods with bad choice of parts. For example, combining hands with a design that is not coherent with the dial (eg. hands design with too much curves, on a dial with a lot of angles).
I decided to help more my customer choosing their parts, so they would have a mod with a balanced design.
Billy: After that, I decided to help more my customer choosing their parts, so they would have a mod with a balanced design. It is really appreciated, especially from my customers who discovered mods a few days before contacting me and didn’t realize the possibilities.
Glen: You’ve recently started a YouTube channel about watch modding. Based on this experience, do you feel like this is a hobby that has the potential to grow in France?
Billy: I think the French Seiko modding scene is a really promising scene. I can see it by the exponential growth of posts about Seiko mods on French watch forums, and the number of members of the French Seiko mod group on Facebook. We have a Francophone-only group on Facebook about watch mods - I don't think there is anything like that in other countries. I tried to find some other country-specific groups, and I couldn't find anything).
Everyday I have questions from people who want to make their own mods. It takes a lot of time to answer to everyone and I really want to help as many people as possible. So, I decided to make the tutorials in French. I would have liked the same support when I was starting this activity, I'm sure it will help the French scene to grow even more.
Glen: What’s one item/product that you would love for mod part suppliers to bring to the market?
Billy: I'm dreaming about a YatchtMaster style insert, but with the design of a Seiko watch insert. For example a Sumo style insert with numbers and markers in "3D" like Yatchmaster style inserts.
Above: The YachtMaster style is always a favorite, and the depth of the 3D bezel insert really adds to the overall look. (Source: namokiMODS)
Billy: I hope there will be more aftermarket bezel inserts with designs close to Seiko watches, or new and original designs, not designs that are copied from other brands.
It would be nice if someone makes a spacer that replaces the one of the NH36 or 7S26 movements, and makes them compatible with dials for crown at 4 o'clock with the cases with crown at 3 o'clock, the same for the reverse. It will be longer and harder to build but at least cleaner than putting dial dots.
Glen: What's your grail watch?
Billy: This isn't really original, but I will say the Rolex GMT-Master II!
Above: One, of many, Rolex GMT-Master II designs. This is the Batgirl variant (Batman on a Jubilee). (Source: A Blog To Watch)
Billy: And at a more affordable price, I would like to buy a Citizen 8110 Bullhead in perfect condition. I saw it in the movie "Once upon a time" and totally felt in love with it ! But I will not put it on this horrible bracelet (laughs).
Above: Brad Pitt rocking the Citizen Bullhead 8110. Billy is not a fan of this strap. (Source: Drivetribe)
Glen: If you had to answer the question “Why do you mod”, what would your answer be?
Billy: At first, it was just to have an affordable watch that meets all my criteria. Now it has become a passion. I always wonder how can I bring something to this wonderful community that is so caring for each other.
I want to build the next mod that has never been made. A mod that has the quality of a high-end watch manufacturer watch, with a balanced design...
Thank you Billy for the thoughtful responses! If you'd like to commission a watch build from Billy, check out his website at bbmodfrance.com. Also, do drop by his YouTube channel if you're looking for watch modding tutorials and guides in French.
If you'd like to be featured in this series, just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate your interest.
Happy modding, modfam!