We get the impression that a lot of people in the modding community did not get into it because they randomly thought of wanting to upgrade their watches. Normally, if we find any faults with the watches we buy, personally modifying the watch might not be the first thought to cross our minds. Until one day, a friend tags us on a photo of a watch mod, or we just randomly stumble upon them on our feed thanks to the algorithm, and we think - “Hey, I can do that!”

Daniel Vu Pham aka Whaddapmystrudel, stumbled upon this creative pursuit the same way. Instantly hooked by the ability to make a watch truly his own, he dove headfirst into modding, swapping out hands, dials, bezels, and more. In this episode of Why We Mod, we're putting a bit of a spin on the usual formula - Whaddapmystrudel discusses what drew him to Seiko modding initially, the most rewarding aspects, and his decision to step away from the hobby for now.

How it Started

Glen: Hello Daniel! Can you tell us about your journey into Seiko modding? What initially drew you to it?

Daniel: I sort of stumbled into Seiko modding one day, just cruising through Instagram or Reddit (honestly can't remember which). I came across this awesome modded watch and thought, "How hard could that be?" What really pulled me in was the sheer number of ways you could personalize a watch. With all the choices—hands, dials, cases, bezels, you name it—you can really make a watch your own.


Glen: Do you remember the first Seiko mod you made, and what did that process feel like?


Daniel: My first dive into modding was with an SKX013 I picked up from Amazon. The SKX007 is kind of the gold standard for Seiko divers, but with my smaller wrists, the 013 just made more sense for me. I decided to switch out the hands for some Mercedes style ones and added a lightning bolt second hand. It was supposed to be a straightforward hand swap, but it definitely had its tricky moments.


Glen: What has been the most rewarding and enjoyable aspect of Seiko modding for you personally?


Daniel: For me, it's all about the patience and the skill of staying patient throughout the entire process. Getting the hang of handling those tiny, delicate parts without losing my cool has been a big win. And then, there's that incredible feeling when you see the finished product. Knowing it's something custom, something you pieced together with your own hands, brings a real sense of pride and satisfaction.

The Decision to Quit

Glen: What led to your decision to quit Seiko modding - was there a particular moment/event that triggered this decision?


Daniel: It mostly came down to the finances, to be honest. Modding can really start to add up, especially when you start diving into the high-end or custom parts, like unique dials or chapter rings. After building dozens of watches, I found myself with a whole collection that I wasn't wearing. It got me thinking that maybe it was time to redirect my resources and energy into something else.


Glen: How did you feel in the days or weeks following your decision to step away?

Daniel: I've still got a ton of project ideas bouncing around in my head, so it's been a bit tough to let go entirely. But I guess diving into new hobbies helps take your mind off the old ones. There's just something about the creativity in this community that I absolutely love.


Glen: In your farewell post, you shared a collage of your mods. Which of these builds were you most proud of?


Daniel: Down the line, I shifted towards more premium builds. By that, I mean I started sourcing parts from reputable modding sites and even incorporated genuine Seiko dials into my projects. One of my top picks has to be this build I did with an original Seiko seagrape dial and a matching handset. There's something magical about the way light dances off that dial. And I can't forget the build with the green waffle dial housed in a Willard case – that one really stood out for me.


Glen: In your post you also mentioned you were selling all your builds! Is there any sentimental value to your watch builds?


Daniel: Honestly, not so much. For me, modding is more about the fun of the hobby. Sometimes my projects turn out exactly as I pictured, and other times, well, they look better in my imagination. The mods don't carry the same sentimental weight as the watches I've actually bought to wear.

Life After Modding

Glen: What other hobbies have you been spending time on since leaving the Seiko modding scene?


Daniel: I've gotten pretty hooked on pocket knives recently. It was another one of those happy accidents, and before I knew it, I discovered there's a whole modding world there too, especially with brands like Benchmade and Spyderco. You can swap out scales, thumbstuds, screws, blades, you name it. It's like a whole new playground of customization.


Glen: What do you enjoy about the new hobby, and how is it similar/different from Seiko modding?

Daniel: What's really cool about this new hobby is how you can take a standard, off-the-shelf item and totally make it your own, much like with Seiko modding. You can start small, maybe just tweak a couple of things like the hands or bezel on a watch, or you can go all out and completely transform it. Pocket knives offer the same kind of flexibility. You can change up minor details or go for a full-scale custom job. It's that creative freedom to personalize that I really dig, whether it's watches or knives.


Glen: Do you still follow the Seiko modding community, or watch industry trends?


Daniel: Yeah, I do swing by the Seiko modding community now and then to check out the latest builds people have put together. It was a big part of my life during the pandemic, a hobby that really helped me pass the time. These days, I'm not as involved as I used to be, but I still keep an eye on what's happening in the watch world. That being said, snagging a BB58 towards the end of the pandemic kind of satisfied my watch craving for a bit, so I've been laying low on the modding front.


Glen: What watch is getting the most wrist time these days?

Daniel: Either my Tudor BB58 or Casio Vintage A168WA-1YES

Glen: Do you think there’s a chance that you’ll get into Seiko modding again in the future?

Daniel: I'm all for keeping options open, so I'd never say never. There's always a chance I might get back into Seiko modding down the line. But for the moment, I'm pretty content taking a break and exploring other interests.


Glen: As someone who’s been through the whole “Seiko modding” journey, any advice for someone new to the hobby?


Daniel: Absolutely, my biggest piece of advice would be to just go at your own pace and don't get too caught up in comparing your work to others. Create something that speaks to you and that you think looks great. After all, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and we all have to start somewhere. 

Sure, a lot of folks love putting together pieces that nod to those classic dive watches, and even if it's not everyone's cup of tea, what matters is that you enjoy it. Remember to be patient with yourself. With a bit of time and practice, your modding projects will start to flow more smoothly.

May 02, 2024 — Jeremiah A


Iain said:

Interesting to hear a perspective of someone whose put the hand setting tools down for now. I’m sure you’ll be back eventually though 🤞

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