Modding Your Seiko 5: Secrets of the Subculture

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Modding Your Seiko 5: Secrets of the Subculture

Post by koimaster » October 31st 2017, 8:40am

In our series Want This, Get This, we profile one wildly desirable, largely unattainable item and one similar item that costs far less. In fact, that’s exactly what watch modification, or “watch modding”, is all about. Now, given enough money, any watch can be modified. Just witness the huge market for blacking out and blinging out Rolexes. But there’s another subculture out there, one whose sweet spot isn’t a $25,000 watch, but rather a $50 to $250 watch — the ubiquitous Seiko dive watch.

The old stock car champion driver Junior Johnson once said, “I like Chevys ‘cause you can make ‘em run with p’duction parts.” Jeeps are the same way; you can build just about an entire Jeep CJ7 from scratch by ordering aftermarket parts online. That’s how it is with Seiko watches. They’re modularly designed so that dials, hands, and movements are often interchangeable. Add the fact that a zillion of them are made every year, and you’ve got a huge repository of parts out in the world.




On top of that, getting creative with dial painting and bezel printing, especially on dive watches, can produce nearly any look a wearer could want. Want a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms on a Seiko diet? No problem. Pick up a Fifty-Five Fathoms custom dial from Yobokies and modify your Seiko 5 Sports diver model SNZH59 for about a fortieth the cost.

Can’t afford a DOXA Sharkhunter? Put together a SOXA (see what we did there?) with that old Seiko 6309 “Turtle” you picked up at a yard sale. An orange dial is DOXA-cool, black is classic for the Sharkhunter, but you just love the Caribbean blue dial on the Sub 1200T NUMA — and the real thing costs an arm and a leg. Again, no problem. Contact your favorite aftermarket dial modder and order it up for your Seiko.

If you aren’t crazy enough to do the work yourself — it involves pulling the movement, removing hands and dial and then putting it all back together again without leaving fingerprints, dust or bent parts — or don’t want to drop more on watchmaking tools than the watch itself, there are plenty of guys who will happily do the work for you.


Meet the Modders

Jake Bourdeau, the Canadian-born owner of Hong Kong-based Dagaz Watch Ltd., is among the best known of mod suppliers. He’s got a full line of dials, bezel inserts, hands, and other goodies. Plus, he’s branching out into homage watches, too.

Harold Ng of Yobokies (SeikoBoy spelled backwards), a Hong Kong-based supplier, is yet another well-known expert within the modding community. Operating with an extensive Photobucket account (lots of pictures) and an e-mail account, Harold serves clients all over the world with customer service second to none.

Monster Watches, based in The Netherlands, is your European connection. His specialty, as you might guess, is the Seiko SRP Monster.

North East Watch Works will handle just about any mod and has perfected the art of bead blasting to produce a high quality matte finish on stainless steel.

International Watch Works offers a full line of watch service, restoration, and modification.

The boys at Detroit-based MotorCity WatchWorks offer a full line of service, including several levels of matte finish bead blasting. They’ve also got a great looking Cerakote ceramic coating process that adds a unique look in your choice of ten different colors.

If you’re looking for niche items like case parts and especially crystals, Jonathan Koch, Mr. Seiko on eBay, is your guy.

Need a replacement bezel (not the insert)? Dave Murphy’s Murphy Manufacturing moonlights machining custom bezels.

Whether you decide to get your hands dirty with parts watches and home alterations or send off to the modding experts, the end result will be the same. When the guy behind you at Starbucks asks, “Say, is that a Fifty Fathoms you’re wearing?” you can puff out your chest and say, “No, it’s a Fifty-FIVE Fathoms. I put it together with parts I bought on the internet.”

Want this, get this, indeed.

Links to the modders are here -

http://www.yobokies.com

http://www.monsterwatches.eu/eu/index.php/home

http://newatchworks.com

http://internationalwatchworks.com

http://motorcitywatchworks.com/index.html

http://stores.ebay.com/mrseiko

http://murphymanufacturing.com/factory_store.html
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Re: Modding Your Seiko 5: Secrets of the Subculture

Post by conjurer » October 31st 2017, 1:56pm

codguy wrote:A modded Seiko 5's is like the four door Corolla "modded" with tall racing wing, ass can exhaust, decals galore and the remaining J.C. Whitney catalog glued onto it.

Just because you can.....................................


Actually, all that shit would probably improve a Corolla.
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Re: Modding Your Seiko 5: Secrets of the Subculture

Post by bbattle » October 18th 2019, 3:49pm

Okay, I bought this Seiko 5 gold dress watch but the bracelet feels cheap. Where can I find a gold bracelet for this watch that is a worthy upgrade? The only things I see so far are two tone and silver.

Are the gold ones sold "under the table" and nobody is willing to advertise them openly? Is there some sort of conspiracy? Must gold watches forever be doomed to being attached to hollow, flimsy bracelets?

Is this my punishment for bowing to the wishes of "she who must be obeyed" and buying what appears to be an out of style watch?
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Re: Modding Your Seiko 5: Secrets of the Subculture

Post by Hawk » October 20th 2019, 9:56am

Well, if it's anything like my gold-ish Seiko 5 the bracelet is indeed notable and not in a good way. I'm keeping mine factory original as a reminder of the damn thing being a gateway drug to GS.

Anyhow, if yours is similar it's titanium nitride over folded stainless. If the community of modification dweebs come up empty you might try this:

https://www.watch-band-center.com/shop-watchstrap.html

Home in on "St Steel Golden" and something might come up though probably in mesh rather than something that'll duplicate the contours of a Seiko 5 gimme bracelet.

Failing that you could try wearing an older Rolex with a folded link bracelet until you've warmed up to the idea that folded isn't all that bad. Or, even more outlandishly, use the current bracelet as an excuse to hop a(n) (Air)bus to Thailand to have one made out of By Gawd 96% gold. The gold itself goes for very little over spot market and getting someone to pound it into the shape of a Seiko 5 wouldn't be outrageously high. It would also be an object lesson to SWMBO that some economies, well, aren't. The upside is that a 4,000.00 bracelet on a Seiko 5 is unlikely to be stolen. But at better than 23 caret it'll stretch.

I'd go with the German supplier first.
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Re: Modding Your Seiko 5: Secrets of the Subculture

Post by bbattle » October 20th 2019, 6:25pm

Thanks for the link, Hawk. that place has everything but it took me some time to find it.

I'm going to get a gold mesh strap and a black alligator strap to go with the Seiko 5 that is gold with a black dial.

I got my calipers out to measure the lug width on my watches.

Is there a protocol for what type strap/bracelet you put on your watch? My Turtle looks and feels amazing with the steel bracelet but would a silicone strap be out of line? No way would I put a canvas strap on it, no matter what the color.

I feel that for my "fun" watch, the Undone Snoopy ACES watch, I could go with all sorts of straps of all colors.

As the price of the watch goes up, does the number of strap/bracelet options go down?

As for the VW Beetle; anything that cheap and unchanging in its basic shape is just begging to be modded to death.
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Re: Modding Your Seiko 5: Secrets of the Subculture

Post by conjurer » October 20th 2019, 6:55pm

bbattle wrote:
October 20th 2019, 6:25pm
Is there a protocol for what type strap/bracelet you put on your watch? My Turtle looks and feels amazing with the steel bracelet but would a silicone strap be out of line? No way would I put a canvas strap on it, no matter what the color.
For the Turtle, see if you can source an OEM Seiko Turtle rubber strap. It's the tits.
My little brain can't even comprehend how deep that is.

--beefsupreme, commenting on his super rare Deep Blue wartche

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Re: Modding Your Seiko 5: Secrets of the Subculture

Post by Racer-X » October 20th 2019, 9:25pm

conjurer wrote:
October 20th 2019, 6:55pm
bbattle wrote:
October 20th 2019, 6:25pm
Is there a protocol for what type strap/bracelet you put on your watch? My Turtle looks and feels amazing with the steel bracelet but would a silicone strap be out of line? No way would I put a canvas strap on it, no matter what the color.
For the Turtle, see if you can source an OEM Seiko Turtle rubber strap. It's the tits.
Agree, great strap. Here's a few sellers I'm familiar with:

$38 Pass the Watch
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Seiko-22mm-Div ... 2055593056

$45 Long Island Watch
https://www.longislandwatch.com/Seiko_R ... f011j9.htm
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Re: Modding Your Seiko 5: Secrets of the Subculture

Post by conjurer » October 20th 2019, 9:38pm

Racer-X wrote:
October 20th 2019, 9:25pm
conjurer wrote:
October 20th 2019, 6:55pm
bbattle wrote:
October 20th 2019, 6:25pm
Is there a protocol for what type strap/bracelet you put on your watch? My Turtle looks and feels amazing with the steel bracelet but would a silicone strap be out of line? No way would I put a canvas strap on it, no matter what the color.
For the Turtle, see if you can source an OEM Seiko Turtle rubber strap. It's the tits.
Agree, great strap. Here's a few sellers I'm familiar with:

$38 Pass the Watch
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Seiko-22mm-Div ... 2055593056

$45 Long Island Watch
https://www.longislandwatch.com/Seiko_R ... f011j9.htm
The ebay guy might be fine, but there's no better guy to do business with than Marc at Long Island Watch.
My little brain can't even comprehend how deep that is.

--beefsupreme, commenting on his super rare Deep Blue wartche

**(@
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