Why We Mod #13: Namir (@Nhorology_lab / Nhorologylab)
For the 13th edition of our long-running Why We Mod interview series, we talk to Namir (@nhorology_lab on IG) who is known for his beautiful restomods, gold builds, and "improved OEM" works that are all neatly arranged in a 1-watch-in-a-row IG feed.
Glen: Hi Namir! Please give us a quick introduction to the person behind NH Labs.
Namir: My name is Namir and I am the N in NHlabs. Full time watchmaker and modder.
Glen: What watch is on your wrist right now?
Namir: My go to daily watch is a Namoki Titanium SKX007 cased Save the Ocean Manta Ray custom mod I created for myself. Focus for this build was on absolute lightness and thinness, going so far as to pick the rubber strap (Uncle Seiko) and low profile caseback for the lowest possible weight.
Glen: What was your first experience or memory with watches? Doesn’t have to be your own personal watch, could be a watch you saw in a film, on someone else’s wrist, etc.
Namir: Interestingly enough, this one I can remember vividly. I was on Youtube and somehow ended up on the weird side randomly browsing videos and had stumbled on one of those overly CGI’d promo videos for a Zenith watch (Zenith Defy Xtreme Zero-G) and being absolutely blown away by the complexity of the thing (also loved the song in the video so that might have played a part).
This video was the seed for my interest in automatic watches and I promptly went out and bought my first automatic, a Bulova Marine star open heart dive watch. I could spend minutes at a time just getting lost watching the balance wheel oscillate
Glen: And how did you first get introduced to the world of Seiko modding?
Namir: I have a formal education and masters degree in Geology and Laser ablation and while doing my masters degree, I needed a part time job. I managed to find one at a local watch and jewelry shop that happened to be a Seiko Authorized Dealer and apprenticed under the owner who was a third generation watch maker.
I soon took on another job at a second watch shop owned by a colleague of his and expanded my knowledge. This formal training in a retail setting on a variety of watches and brands I feel gives me an edge. While working here I bought a SKX009 and modified it to be my version of a perfect Pepsi style SKX009 build which made me fall in love with Seiko modding.
Namir's current modding workshop
Seeing how with a modest investment you could have a watch with the quality, look and feel of watches costing ten times more really appealed to me. The first full custom build I did was a mother of pearl SKX013 I made for my girlfriend with a custom laser engraved caseback and crown.
Glen: I noticed on your IG profile that you have a “tagline” that says “Art Meets Science”. Watch modding definitely has some parallels with art - how does that philosophy come across in the watches you build?
Namir: I like to treat my work differently than most in that I try to focus on each project and commission as an individual piece of art, ideally with some central theme or inspiration if possible.
I find the scene can sometimes be a bit derivative and repetitive and I personally would get extremely bored, frustrated and burnt out slapping together the same tired designs so my focus has always been and will always be on unique and original designs.
I have a particular fondness for the vintage restomod style builds I am known for.
Glen: Are most of your clients descriptive about what they want, or do they give you the freedom to come up with designs?
Namir: It can vary. Some have no idea what they want which can be a bit difficult to navigate. Some know exactly what they want and send a list of parts and just want it assembled by skilled hands.
My preferred clients to deal with are the ones who have a rough idea of what they want and leave the design aspect and details to me as I feel the design aspect is where I shine best. I prefer to start big (case finish and dial color) and then work down from that to the details.
Glen: Love your collaborative approach towards gathering design requirements. Reminds me of how a tattoo artist works with a customer to come up with a design that reflects both the artist’s style as well as the customer’s personality.
Glen: At this moment - what’s your FAVOURITE watch that you’ve built?
Namir: I still think my favourite watch to date is a personal build of mine using a restomodded dial from a vintage Seiko DX with an almost ocean like appearance housed in a blue PVD case with gold accents. I kept the aquatic theme throughout by pairing with a shark second hand and a Namoki Gold Seigaiha rotor.
Glen: What are your thoughts on the recently released Seiko 5 GMT collection? How do you think that will influence the modding community?
Namir: Personally, I am eager to get my hands on it and start offering it to clients once I can be assured I can provide a quality product using the platform.
Currently in the middle of my first test piece so we will see but I am excited for the possibilities it opens up. Any new platform is a good thing for this scene and the reason it never gets boring is the constant evolution and new parts becoming available by the day.
Glen: Scrolling though your feed, it seems like you’ve built watches of all sorts of designs, and aesthetics for clients. What is YOUR personal style when it comes to watches?
Namir: This is actually a great question and one I am eager to answer. Judging by my feed you would assume I love gold but that’s actually not the case (I can handle some two-tone however). As someone with experience in retail jewellery settings I have learned men tend to be all about gold or not at all, very rarely is there a middle ground.
My personal taste and collection tends to be a bit more reserved and OEM looking in a way. I tend to stick with OEM seiko dials and more or less build them with all the best parts available so they look almost factory, but better.
Glen: We heard that you made a watch for THE Joe Rogan. How did that go down?
Namir: Yeah I won’t lie I was psyched, especially as I worked directly with him over email and DM. He was a cool guy to deal with and very accommodating. We were in talks to work on a second as a hunting watch at one point as well which I am going to try and follow up on.
As for how the sale came to be it’s interesting. He started following my page quite early on, well under 10K, can’t quite remember when but early - the first year for sure. He didn’t commission one until after Matt Farah, a famous Youtuber and car journalist and friend of his reached out for a watch himself. I guess Matt referred him to me and that’s how it came to be.
Joe Rogan actually brings up “Seiko Modding” in one of his podcasts.
Glen: Is there any product/item that you’d love to see available that isn’t currently being sold by any of the major part suppliers? If so, what is it?
Namir: Any time I answer this question it is only a matter of time before my prayers are answered but I would love to see more ornate and higher spec clasps available for rose gold bracelets at some point. Perhaps an all rose Jubilee.
Glen: Besides Seiko (obviously!) are there any other watchmakers/brands that you admire and appreciate?
Namir: To be honest I love the watch scene in general so lots and lots. I tend to have a real appreciation for the smaller brands doing ground breaking work such as De Bethune, Urwerk, Jaquet Droz, Moser, HYT, and I have always lusted after the BVLGARI Octo Finissimo.
Glen: What other hobbies do you partake in when you’re not building/modding watches?
Namir: I am an extremely avid music and underground techno lover and tend to plan my travels around going to see shows in that scene. Also I wanted to be a chef growing up so I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen trying new recipes and techniques.
Glen: What’s your grail watch, and why?
Namir: Very hard question to answer but if I had to pick just one then an Urwerk UR-100.
Source: Monochrome Watches
Glen: Plug yourself! Socials, website, etc.