Stepping into the realm of watch modding is like unlocking a new level in the game of horology. Whether you're an avid watch collector, a beginner enthusiast, or simply someone who loves the intricacies of timepieces, constructing or modifying your own watch offers an intimate and rewarding experience that will give you a new perspective for this hobby.

And like with any hobby that involves modification, you’ll only be able to start once you get yourself a project watch.


Source: @watchbuilds on IG


A project watch can mean a couple of things. It could be about nursing an old, worn-out watch back to health. Or, it could involve adding your personal touch to an existing piece, customizing it to mirror your style. It could even mean constructing an entirely new watch from scratch. 

Regardless, the essence of a project watch lies in its ability to provide a personalized journey through the fascinating world of watchmaking.

This article aims to dispel any myths surrounding the perceived difficulty of starting a project watch. Once you actually start with it, you’ll quickly understand that it’s more accessible than you might have initially thought. 

So let's dive in, shall we? We're about to demystify the process, making it approachable for anyone who's ready to tinker with their watch.

Start from Scratch or with a Project Watch?

The first step of setting out on your watch project journey is deciding if you want to start the easier way, or the more rewarding way. In other words, knowing if you want to start completely from scratch, or you want to start with a watch with aftermarket support.



Starting from scratch may actually be the easier choice now, especially with a lot of options for watchmaking kits being readily available - at least with this you can be sure that all the parts you’ll get are cross-compatible with each other. Starting with a project watch can be a bit trickier.

So, what makes for a good project watch? First off is accessibility to aftermarket parts. A model that supports a wide range of aftermarket components - dials, hands, bezels, crowns, crystals - provides greater flexibility for personalizing your watch.


Source: @hpastten on IG


Next is having a reliable movement. The heart of your watch, movements like the Seiko 7S26 or 4R36 (and NH movements for the modding community), are widely respected for their robustness and dependability, standing up to the rigors of modding while maintaining reliable timekeeping.

Affordability is another important consideration. Modding, especially when you're starting, can come with a learning curve. The likelihood of making mistakes or needing to replace parts is part of the process. Starting with a more affordable watch can significantly reduce any financial stress associated with potential mishaps.

The SKX007 was probably the only watch that checked all three boxes, but it’s become more of a rare watch nowadays. Other timepieces that still fit the criteria are the Seiko 5 Sports line, also known as the 5KX in modding circles. Aside from that, the Seiko Turtle and SRPE lines are also acceptable as project watches to start with.

Starting with Your Vision

Now that you’ve decided where to start, we move on to the next step - visualizing your project. This is a subjective process and should reflect your unique taste and style.

Think of this as drafting your watch's blueprint. Ask yourself what you're aiming for. Do you want a sleek, minimalist dress watch, a rugged diver, or perhaps a hybrid homages that mixes different iconic designs together? Your vision will guide your choice of components, whether you're revamping an existing watch or building one from scratch.



Take into consideration the occasions where you'll wear this watch. If you need a versatile piece for daily wear, you might opt for a classic design with a robust movement. But if you're seeking a conversation starter for special occasions, you could lean towards a more unique and intricate design.

Remember, there's no right or wrong here. It's about creating something that speaks to you and your style. It's an artistic endeavor, yes, but it's also deeply personal. In the end, your project watch will tell more than just time - it will also tell your story.

Acquiring the Right Tools and Parts

With the vision of your project watch in mind, it's time to get your hands on the necessary tools and parts. Much like an artist needs brushes and paints, a watch modder requires a specific set of tools. You'll need a case back opener, a set of precision screwdrivers, tweezers, a hand remover and setter, among others. There are ready-made watch toolkits available online that provide a solid starting point for beginners.



Then comes the hunt for the parts. Online marketplaces and specialty watch part retailers offer a wide range of components that cater to every watch project vision. From different types of movements, dials, and hands to a variety of cases and straps, you'll find a diverse selection to bring your vision to life. Always ensure you're sourcing quality parts from reliable vendors - your watch's performance and durability depend on it.

Learning the Assembly Process

The last piece of the puzzle is learning how to assemble your watch. Truth be told, it’s not something you can be an expert on in a few minutes, but the know-how is readily available and the community is here to help you. If you've never done this before, it might seem intimidating, but don't let that deter you. Remember, every expert was once a beginner.


Source: @happypreppy on IG


There are plenty of resources available to guide you through the process. Watching YouTube videos from reputable channels can give you a visual reference and build confidence in your abilities. For beginners, it is probably the best choice as you get to see the process in action, and there is a specific guide for just about every aspect of watch modding.

The most crucial part is to take your time. This isn't a race, and it's okay to make mistakes - they're part of the learning process. If you're struggling with a particular step, take a break or ask for help. Remember, the goal is to enjoy the process as much as the end result.

Building your own project watch is an exciting journey that combines creativity, patience, and technical skills. As you develop your watchmaking abilities, you'll gain a deeper appreciation for the craftsmanship that goes into every timepiece. And the best part? You'll have a unique watch that's a true representation of you.

Encountering Issues

As you embark on the journey of watch assembly, be prepared to encounter a few speed bumps along the way. It's all part of the process. Common issues might include misaligned watch hands, a dial that doesn't sit correctly, or difficulty fitting the case back. 



This is where your research and the watch modding community come into play. Various online forums and groups provide a wealth of knowledge and are usually more than willing to assist fellow enthusiasts. If you’re not sure where to look, you can start with the Seiko modding Subreddit which also features a list of reputable watch part suppliers and other helpful tutorials.

So, don't get discouraged by a few hiccups. Remember, every challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow as a watch modder.

Excited to Make Your Own Watch?

It’s genuinely rewarding to see the watch you envisioned come to life, ticking away on your wrist; a symbol of your effort and dedication. And you know what's even better? The knowledge that this is just the beginning. With your first project watch complete, you've unlocked a whole new world of watch modding.

Be warned now: modding is rarely a one and done hobby! It won’t be long after completing your first project that you’re already on Instagram or Pinterest, looking for inspiration for your next shiny watch build/mod. As long as you have the creativity and the passion for it, there’s no end to the potential watches you can create.

If you’re still on the hunt for inspiration, check out our latest releases to awaken your creative muse! We launch new parts for the modding community every month, from cases, to tools, to ready-to-wear watches that you can mod further and personalize.

Happy modding!

June 06, 2023 — Jeremiah A

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