For the inquisitive and unfamiliar, all it takes to mod a SEIKO is owning several watch tools and possessing plenty and plenty of patience. Sounds simple, right? Actually, it is. The more you mod, the more familiar you are. Along the way, you will acquire experience and gain expertise in watch modding. What's more rewarding is the personalised touch given to customising and modifying your own timepiece.
In this tutorial, we will cover one of the most popular cosmetic modification on SEIKO watches - Changing The Dial and Hands.
**Applicable on most SEIKO watches.
*The toughest part of this mod would be inserting, aligning and spacing the hour, minute, seconds hands.
Here, we used a tool similar to Bergeon 5700-Z Case Opener. Makes opening and closing any watch cases a breeze. Also reducing chance of slippage and scratching of watch cases. Once the two bits are tighten onto the notches of the watch case back, anti-clockwise to open the watch case back while clockwise screws down and tighten it.
Alternatively, an economy case opener wrench (Looks similar to Bergeon 2819-08 Jaxa) may also suffice. Although, a case holder may also be required to enhance grip and provide ease of case back opening.
Once the movement is exposed. Prior to removing the movement, the crown and stem must be pulled out first. With a toothpick, gently push down on the lever (see images below). Thereafter, the crow and stem can be pull out easily. The lever required to push down to remove the crown and stem is generally very similar across all SEIKO movements (i.e. 7S26, 7S36, NH35, NH36, etc).
If the movement is griped onto the case tightly, using a small flat-head screw or a toothpick to gently pivot it out of the case. Then gently tip the movement off from the case back onto a cushion.
TIPS: For SEIKO 7S and 4R1x family non-hacking movements, if you are not comfortable with it running while doing the modification, the best way to stop the movement is to let it sit till the mainspring runs out of power reserve.
Align the hands (all pointing at the same direction), and place a plastic film on top of the hands and dial. Finally, using a Bergeon #1 Presto Hand Remover, the hands can be removed easily and quickly without damaging the dial.
Note: A Bergeon 6938 Dial Protection can also be used. Although, we personally think a plastic film is a far more superior choice - on top of protecting the dial, it also fully protects the hands from scratches.
Using a small flat head screwdriver, insert it into the gap between the dial and plastic bracket, and twist. The dial should be lifted off the movement and can be removed easily.
Alternatively, any small tool such as a toothpick can also be used to pivot the dial off a movement.
IMPORTANT: Take extreme care to avoid bending the legs of the dial.
Orientate the movement to where the crown position should be. Then identify the two holes on the plastic bracket that is encased around the movement (see image below). The holes will be where the new dial legs should go into.
IMPORTANT: The watch crown position at either 3 o'clock and 4 o'clock will have different positions for the two holes. Hence, it is important to obtain 4 o'clock crown position dial for watches with 4 o'clock crown position. A 3 o'clock crown position dial on watches with 4 o'clock crown position will result in wrong orientation of the dial. Some of our dials come with 4 legs, 2 legs have to be removed according to the watch crown position. If you have mistakenly purchased a different crown position dial or removed the wrong dial legs, REMOVE ALL LEGS and USE ADHESIVE (double sided tape) to align it to the movement.
Here, we used a high precision hand setting tool with 3 runners and a revolving head. When installing the hands, either a tweezer or a cleaning putty can be used to hold an hour/minute/second hand into position. Pressing on a stake will install a hand in place onto the dial.
TIPS: To avoid potential damage while handling the hands, cleaning putty is highly recommended. Additionally, a toothpick can be used together with the cleaning putty as an extension.
With the installation of hour hand first and minute hand second, ensure the alignment of the hour and minute hands to 12 o'clock are parallel. To test for alignment, insert the crown and stem and advance the time and check that hour and minute hands land accurately on each hour.
TIPS: If the movement is not running, the hour and minute hands aligning to the markers can be easily achieve. One hand on the stake partially-pressed down holding a hand in place (exactly like half-clutch), another hand using a toothpick to align the hand before fully pressing the hand down in place.
Finally, the toughest part of this entire modification is to ensure that the hands installed are equally levelled and spaced. This is done by highly precise hand pressing and estimating when to let go of the hand press.
IMPORTANT: Always gently press the stake of a hand setting tool and use an eye loupe to observe the hands positioning. Pressing too hard may dent or scratch the hands. If the minute or second hands are not equally levelled, they might collide after a single second hand clockwise rotation. Likewise, if the hands are not equally spaced, the movement might not move. Either of these would result in both the hands scratching each other and/or the jamming of movement.
Assuming the movement has mainspring power. After installing the hands, the second hand is not moving or stops after a full turn. There are several possibilities:
Here, we used a compressed air canister to remove any dirts and dusts on the dial, hands and inner watch case. Extremely effective given the high air pressure. A cleaning putty or ethanol solution can also be used to remove any accidental fingerprints on the dial, hands and inner watch case.
IMPORTANT: To prevent hairline scratches, ONLY microfibre cloth should be used at all times.
Now for the finale. To encase the finished mod back into the watch case, sit the movement dial up, align the watch case to the movement and push the watch case onto the movement.
Next, flip the watch case over and expose the back of the movement. Ensure that the movement is properly align and fully pressed down within the watch case. If not, realign and press down on the plastic bracket of the movement with a toothpick. Check the alignment of the crown position. If the movement is perfectly aligned, inserting the stem with the crown through the watch case into the movement would be effortless and fluid.
Lastly, closing the case back. Ensure the case back gasket is intact. Then continue to screw down the case back in a clockwise direction.
Listed here are some of tools that we are used. Depending on individual, some tools might be different or might not be necessary. While in terms of cost, they are generally affordable if you do not mind using "China Made" tools. Swiss Made tools can cost anything to thousands of dollars. Of course, when it comes to quality, it is a huge difference. Either way you go, they both get the job done.
It is also important to wear gloves or finger cots to avoid direct contact of our fingers on the watch parts and, especially, the movement.
Courtesy of Eric Y / Lume Shot
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WARNING: Modification and/or customisation of a watch will generally void its warranty.