For the 15th edition of our steady Why We Mod series and our first interview for 2023, we talk to George (@koda_watches on IG) who is an Australia-based watch modder that makes respectful mods that don't take much away from the intended look, while not shying away from outlandish and eye-catching personal designs.


Glen: Hi George! Please tell us a bit about yourself, and how Koda Watches started.

George: Hi Glen. Thanks for taking an interest in my work and also for the work you guys are doing for the watch modding community. The product development and content your team is putting out is important and deserves praise.

I took an interest in watches in 2011. I was curious about how they worked so I bought myself a basic kit and a bunch of Russian vintage mechanical watches to operate on. After some persistence I successfully serviced my first one, which I still have and occasionally wear for some nostalgia.



Not long after I read Longitude by Dava Sobel and I was hooked on horology. Koda Watches is actually my second attempt at a horology based business. I started building wooden clocks a few years ago and ran a business by the name of Ticking Wood. Unfortunately there wasn’t much demand.

Even though the business had wound up I kept tinkering with clocks and eventually I stumbled upon watch modding. It took one personal build and I knew this was for me. 

Glen: Is the man in the Koda Watches logo actually a vectorised version of you? :)



George: Huh! I wish I was that skilled, and blessed with that much hair. I can’t take credit for either unfortunately. I’ve had to learn vector designing though which has been fun and frustrating in equal measure.

I also developed a fascination for typefaces alongside vectors. There’s a wonderful book called Just My Type by Simon Garfield which is a great introduction and very entertaining. I’m very particular about my typeface choice when designing dials and also engraving casebacks.

I even designed a whole watch starting with the type called Poor Richard. I really loved the antique look of the type but the number 2 was really broad at the top so I ended up editing it for the dial. 


Glen: You take great photos and your website is pretty slick. Do you have any experience in the creative field? 

George: Thank you. I’ve been a hobby photographer for over 20 years now and in that time I’ve dabbled in a range of styles and with all manner of equipment, including developing my own film.

Photography is a highly saturated and technical hobby these days and I don’t get much time for it sadly. I was never into the technical side anyway - it was always a creative outlet for me, much like watch design is now.

My watch photography is quite simple but that’s out of necessity. I would love to take more artistic photos of the watches I build but time is precious and I’d rather be working on watches than spending hours on fancy photos of them. I do enjoy the amazing skills of many Instagram watch photographers though.

Glen: What watch in your collection has been getting the most wrist time recently?

George: I’ll fess up and say it’s the Casio A158. I’ve never worn a more comfortable watch. I recently bought the A700 which has a better light, is a little thinner, and the bracelet is super ‘70’s cool. That’s my newest go-to.

From my mechanical collection I’ve been rotating between my Koda XII...



...which is a California dial interpretation and the Big Numbers in one of your 38mm field cases.



The Big Numbers is special to me. It’s not my favourite watch and it might not be to everyone’s taste but that’s besides the point. This design gave me confidence to follow through with my ideas, no matter how crazy they might seem. It’s a reminder to put myself out there and it’s in this neat little package I can carry with me on my wrist. 

Glen: What watch brands and/or specific watch models do you find most influential/inspiring in your design process?

George: Inevitably I strike up conversations with people about watches and in most cases they know far more about watch brands than I do. Somewhat embarrassingly my general knowledge of watch brands and their range is pretty basic. I don’t know if that helps or hinders me when it comes to design.

Take the Big Numbers as an example. After I posted it to social media I got a few comments about the Raketa Big Zero. I had never seen that model so it wasn’t an influence but I wonder if I would have put in the effort to produce it if I knew about the Raketa. Possibly not.


Source: Watchlounge


With other builds I have drawn inspiration from a style, like the IWC pilot watches. I try to be upfront about that and I never set out to make a one to one copy. To be fair the pilot style is widely used by many brands and it’s just the nature of watch design. The style is the style and you can only deviate so much before it becomes unrecognisable, and most likely undesirable.


Glen: As our first official Why We Mod interview of 2023 - what was your favourite watch trend of 2022?

George: I really enjoyed seeing all of the Nautilus case builds in 2022. Not so much the homages but the OEM Seiko dial ones. This case is pure design genius. It’s equally at home on small wrists as much as large wrists. With the standard 28.5mm dial size we all tend to use, any case above 38mm with a fixed bezel starts to look too case heavy with a disproportionately large bezel and rehaut.



The Nautilus case gets around this with the famous “ears” which allow it to be wide but with a slim looking bezel that’s in proportion with the smaller dials. Gerald Genta wasn’t thinking about the modding community and our 28.5mm dials but they’re a perfect size for this case. The “ears” also give the watch excellent balance by minimising the crown protrusion. A neat visual trick.


Glen: On the flip side - what’s a trend that you’ve gotten a liiiittle tired of and hope to see less of in 2023?

George: Umm, the Nautilus homages…. haha. It’s easy to beat on the homage mods but they’re popular for a good reason and I don’t criticise. As long as people are enjoying watches, homage or not, mechanical or quartz, I’m happy for them. 

To date I haven’t built a Nautilus homage and I’ve stopped taking on all generic homage jobs unless there’s some design challenge or a different take on a classic. I have nothing against them, I even have a blue and gold OP I enjoy wearing occasionally. I don’t consider myself above them either - I just decided that’s not the path I wanted to take. I get more enjoyment out of adding something to the community.


Glen: What are some lessons you learned while building Koda Watches as a brand? Were there any “growing pains” when making the transition from casual hobbyist to business owner?

George: The most difficult thing has been learning to say no. Early on I tried to please everyone and take on every job I could. Saying yes was profitable but it compromised my vision for the business. It took away from my enjoyment of creating new designs and exploring with different materials. When you’re not enjoying what you do your creative output is going to be subpar. Not just the creative output but the general quality of your work as well.

I really enjoy what I do now and occasionally saying no allows me the time to experiment. I felt like my customers and popular trends were dictating the direction of my business. Identifying that, and then making the change, was a bit trying but ultimately the best thing I’ve done from a sustainable business point of view.



I also suspected brand acceptance would take time and I know that’s going to be an ongoing challenge. I mean, what and who is Koda and why would people want a watch with Koda on the dial. 


Glen: You’ve made some really cool custom stuff - your fabric dial in particular definitely got some traction in the modding community. What’s your approach to designing/ideating custom dials/parts in general?


George: It’s a mixed bag really. Some just come to me, like the fabric dial. I was at my parents’ place and I saw a piece of fabric on their kitchen bench - it was a light bulb moment. The following morning the watch was finished and posted on social media. I wasn’t expecting the positive response that it received. That first one ended up with a local Sydney based collector and I’m happy about that.

Others are more of an iteration and go through many revisions before I make the dial or build the watch. The XII I mentioned earlier is a design I’ve been revising in my head, in vector and cutting dials to see them in a case. I’ve had some customers tweak the design as well for their own builds which I appreciate as it gives me a fresh perspective.

The Pilot 36, inspired by the IWC pilot watches, is another design I’ve endlessly tweaked. I find it fascinating how subtle changes can have a large effect on the overall design. A customer just last week ordered a small variation on that design and through that discussion I gained a lot of insight into why the dial has had so much appeal. I probably get more questions about that design than any of my others.


Glen: What are some watch parts that you’d love to see and work with, but aren’t currently available on the market?

George: More quartz support. Love the VH31 and I’ve 3D printed an NH case adapter for the movement but I’d love to see a thinner case that’s made for it and is compatible with 28.5mm dials. It’s a great movement with a deceiving sweeping seconds which gives permission to automatic-only watch collectors to try a quartz. :D

I would also love to see more square case options. The B&R cases you guys released are great but I’m hoping to see something for the small-wrist community. I actually get asked for this a lot and outside of some poor Santos copies there isn’t anything appealing that will fit an NH movement.



I recently picked up a vintage Seiko 5606-5000. Something along those lines will do well I think. You guys have been developing a lot of new parts recently… hint hint ;-)


Glen: What’s the next watch that you’ve been eyeing/planning to add to your collection?

George: I just bought a Casio A700 so that'll do for me for a little while but if you allow me a moment to dream… I would love to add a Spring Drive to my collection - but not until they release a 36mm x 10mm case… not to be too picky. 


Glen: I’m sure Koda Watches has big plans for 2023 - could you give us a hint as to what’s in store for the community this year?

George: A little bit against the grain, and common sense probably, I’m working on some quartz designs. They have a place in every collection and there’s something to be said about just picking up a watch when you’re running out the door and the time is set. 



I’m also playing around with different dial materials, textures and handset designs.

Commission work keeps me pretty busy but I’m getting better at dedicating some time each week to personal R&D. It can sometimes be a waste of time but it’s all a learning experience.


Glen: Why do you mod? In other words, what do you think drives this desire to modify/build your own watch? 

George: I really enjoy, and may be addicted to, casing up my own dial design for the first time. It’s yet to go on a strap or sit on a wrist - it’s just there on a cushion under my lights, ticking away. It’s rewarding to see something you’ve designed, spent time tweaking, making mockups and then finally seeing it behind glass. Creating something, anything, is worthwhile and I wish that satisfaction for all your readers.


Glen: How can people connect with / find out more about you and your custom watch services?

George: The best places to see my portfolio and contact me are Instagram @koda_watches or on my website and email

Thank you again Glen for your support of modders and all that you guys do to further the watch modding interest.

March 24, 2023 — Jeremiah A


Mike C said:

That display case on the back of a quartz movement watch… love it.

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