What Is Watch Modding?

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If you’re part of the watch community, you’re probably already familiar with what watch modding is. For those who aren’t familiar, however, watch modding, or watch modification, is a subculture that involves taking apart and rebuilding watches to completely customize and modify them altogether. Seiko is the most popular brand of watches to do this with, although other brands can be used. If you’re curious to learn more about watch modding, keep reading.

Why Do People Mod Watches?

People who may not be as enthusiastic about watches as others, may not see the point in modifying watches. However, there are many reasons to want to modify your watch. For example, you may like the case of your new watch, but absolutely hate the dial. Or, it might simply be a hobby that you just can’t get enough of.

In short, people modify watches when they want to change something about the original factory version of it. It’s a great way to customize and adjust watches for your liking.

What Does Watch Modding Consist of?

Although you can purchase previously modified watches, you can try and take on the challenge yourself. All you need to do to get started is acquire the parts you need as well as a set of basic tools to do it with Believe it or not, you may have unknowingly participated in watch modding already if you have ever changed your watch’s strap. As simple as it may be, this is considered a form of watch modding.

If you’re new to watch modding, you can always visit one of the many watch modding forums that are available online for helpful tips and tricks to help you through your first mod. There, you can also post photos and updates of your current project. Another way to learn how to watch mod is to talk to someone who already has experience doing this. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have throughout the process.

As mentioned previously, watch modding is typically done on Seiko brand watches simply because of the fact that the sheer number of ready-to-go parts for this specific watch are always readily available. Interestingly enough, these watches tend to be modified to resemble other luxury brand watches.

Modifying Options

If you’ve decided to enter the world of watch modifications but don’t know where to start, you’ll first need to determine what type of modding you want to do. You have two options: doing a full overhaul, or keeping things subtle and classic.

When you do a full overhaul, you are essentially modifying the entire watch from scratch. To do this, you combine aftermarket parts from other brands or models to create a unique design. For example, you could combine a Seiko SNK809 with the dials and straps of a Rolex Explorer. You can also take inspiration from other watches and combine parts to make it look like that exact same one.

If you don’t want to completely redesign the watch but are instead hoping to make some minor modifications, you can also go down that route. This can involve changing the bezels and crystals for a subtle change, or simply switching out the band. It might not seem like it, but subtle mods like that have the ability to drastically change the watch.

What Kinds of Tools Do I Need?

To mod your watch, you’re going to need some tools handy to help you with the process. You will need: a pair of gloves, a case back remover, a crystal presser, cleaning putty, a hand remover, a hand setter, a dust blower, toothpicks, tweezers, screwdrivers, gorilla tape, and plenty of workspace.

Steps to Modification

Now that you’ve decided to mod your watch, you’re probably eager to get started. To do so, simply follow these steps.

  1. Start by removing the watch strap. Take off the flanges on your stock strap and pull the strap out carefully.
  2. Open the case back using a case opener, making sure you’re being extremely careful.
  3. Remove the crown and stem by gently pushing on the lever with a toothpick.
  4. Make sure all hands face the right direction, using a hand remover to pull them out at the same time.
  5. Remove the dial using a flathead screwdriver.
  6. Replace the dial and align the dial’s new legs with the holes that are on the plastic bracket.
  7. Replace the hands by applying the hour hand first. Then, you can apply the second hand.
  8. Using a crystal removal tool, remove your crystal and replace it with the one of your choice. Apply a bit of pressure on it to get it in all the way.
  9. Put back the crown and stem and connect your new strap.