Military watch designs have an undeniable cool factor that draws in collectors and enthusiasts alike. Originally created for soldiers to rely on in combat situations, these rugged timepieces prioritized water resistance, shock protection, legibility and anti-magnetic properties over all else. While vintage military-issued watches can fetch incredibly high prices, a new trend has emerged - modifying affordable watches to replicate that iconic military aesthetic.


Source: @316watches on IG


Watch modders are taking standard off-the-shelf watches and customizing them with new cases, dials, hands and movements to achieve the look and performance of classic military designs from decades past. It's an opportunity to capture that purposeful military style without dropping serious cash on hard-to-find vintage originals.

There's a unique satisfaction that comes from building a military-inspired mod watch from the ground up and making it your own. You get to tailor every detail to your personal preferences while ensuring the end result is a rugged, functional timepiece ready for outdoor adventures or daily wear and tear. Turning an ordinary watch into a custom military-styled instrument has become a must-have for enthusiasts who appreciate the fusion of hands-on creativity and utilitarian design.

The Origins of MilSpec Watches


Source: on IG


The development of MilSpec watches dates back to the early 20th century, when the need for reliable and precise timekeeping became crucial for military operations. Watchmakers were tasked with creating timepieces that could withstand extreme conditions, from water and shock resistance to anti-magnetic properties and luminous markers for low-light visibility. Iconic models like the A-11, Mk11, and Mil-W-46374 emerged, serving as the foundation for modern MilSpec watch design and inspiring countless enthusiasts worldwide.

Objectively, these watches are not aesthetically pleasing, though they do have that recognizable look that only few other watch designs possess. Couple that with a sturdy build that ensures your watch won’t die from a few drops and you have an amazing value watch that makes people go “I want this watch without having to enlist.”

What Makes It Great for Seiko Mods


For many watch enthusiasts, the allure of MilSpec watch mods lies in their ability to own a timepiece with military-inspired design at a fraction of the cost of vintage originals or modern reissues. These mods have that certain minimalist appeal, and while making a true MilSpec watch (that is, something that can actually survive in a battlefield) is not yet something that modding can realistically achieve, we can still nail the look with the currently available options for mod parts.

The Building Process

Creating a MilSpec watch mod is a meticulous process that requires careful planning, research, and attention to detail. It often begins with sourcing a suitable base watch, such as a Seiko or other affordable timepiece. The most popular choice would be the SNK805, which actually already looks like a Dirty Dozen watch in its vanilla state, but can be improved further with a cleaner dial and thicker hands.



If starting from scratch, you can also use the NMK912 Field Watch case which is one of our most popular picks for dress and field watches. It features a sleek case coupled with a pilot bezel and flat sapphire crystal that embodies how a military watch should look like. Pair it with a Khaki Field-inspired dial and handset and you have yourself your very own MilSpec timepiece! Want it to match your military fatigues? Get the olive green version so you can assemble a watch that’s ready for deployment.



Looking for something closer to an aviator watch? You can’t go wrong with the Tonneau case, inspired by watches used by the British MoD. Its rounded case makes for a rather stout look, while still being well proportioned on larger wrists. 

Wrap Up

Behind every MilSpec watch is someone with a deep appreciation for the history and design principles of military-issued timepieces. At its core, the appeal of MilSpec watch modding lies in the combination of utility and self-expression. 

If you appreciate military watch heritage and the idea of crafting your own rugged custom timepiece appeals to you, then MilSpec modding could be your next obsession. Don’t forget to check out our extensive catalog of high quality mod parts that will allow you to create a watch that may not survive a grenade blast, but will last you a long time nonetheless. From individual parts to watchmaking kits, we have everything for every Seiko modder.

Happy modding!

April 12, 2024 — Jeremiah A

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.