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December 29, 2018 8 min read

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.

 

 

CHANGING THE DIAL AND HANDS

DIFFICULTY:
*The toughest part of this mod would be inserting, aligning and spacing the hour, minute, seconds hands.

 

STEP 1: OPENING THE WATCH CASE BACK.

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.

 

STEP 2: PULLING THE CROWN AND STEM OUT.

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).

Pulling the crown and stem out - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier
Pulling the crown and stem out - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier

 

STEP 3: REMOVING THE MOVEMENT.

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.

Removing the movement from the case - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier

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.

 

STEP 4: REMOVING THE HANDS.

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.

Removing the hands - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier

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.

 

STEP 5: REMOVING THE DIAL.

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.

Removing the watch dial - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier
Removing the watch dial - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier

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.

 

STEP 6: FITTING A NEW 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.

Fitting a new watch dial - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier

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.

 

STEP 7: FITTING NEW HANDS.

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.

Fitting new hands using high precision hand setting tool with 3 runners - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier
Fitting new hands using high precision hand setting tool with 3 runners - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier

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.

Aligning the hands - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier

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.

Ensuring the hour minute and second hands are equally spaced - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier

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:

  1. Dust clog. Dust can stop and damage a movement. They can potentially siphon off lubricant which in turn increases friction between gears. This dust clog over long term may leads to movement damage and such. Ensure you work in a low dust environment. Most importantly, culture a good practice of covering watch parts when you are not working with them and dust blowing the watch parts every other moment when you notice micro dust. Observe if there is any dust clog between the centre second pinion and minute wheel and remove if present.
  2. Centre second pinion. You want to make sure it is straight up and not dented. Usually, accidental installation of seconds onto the side of the centre second pinion can easily dent the pinion. Try to use a loupe when installing. If it helps to have a steady hand, try holding your breath while installing the hands.
  3. Second hand hollow pin. You also want to make sure that the second hand hollow pin itself is straight, not dented, and the size of it fits the centre second pinion perfectly.
  4. Evenly and horizontally spaced hands. One of the most important aspect of hands installation is that all the hands has to be evenly and horizontally spaced apart; hour, minute and second hands. You may noticed that you can press the hand fitting tool as hard as you can when fitting a hand and the hands may fit beyond where they were supposed to be. AVOID pressing hard or fully down. You want to press gently to the degree that it is sufficient - evenly and horizontally spaced. Gauging how much force to press the hand fitting tool, at which angle and when to let go takes patience and experience. Use an eye loupe if possible.
  5. Straight hands. Or non-dented hands. With evenly and horizontally spaced hands, you also want straight hands so that neither of the hands would obstruct another hand's movement. Example: Minute hand with distal end angled slightly upwards is going to collide with the second hands, stopping the entire movement.

 

STEP 8: REMOVING DIRTS AND DUSTS.

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.

Removing dirts and dusts off the watch dial and case - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier

IMPORTANT: To prevent hairline scratches, ONLY microfibre cloth should be used at all times.

 

STEP 9: PUTTING THE MOVEMENT BACK AND CLOSING UP.

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.

Putting the movement back into the case - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier
Putting the movement back into the case - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier

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.

Putting the movement back into the case - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier
Putting the movement back into the case - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier

Lastly, closing the case back. Ensure the case back gasket is intact. Then continue to screw down the case back in a clockwise direction.

Putting the movement back into the case - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier
Putting the movement back into the case - [TUTORIAL] How To Modify Your SEIKO Watch - Dial and Hands by Lucius Atelier

 

 

WATCH TOOLS REQUIRED

  • CASE OPENER - Opening of watch case back.
    E.g. Bergeon 2819-08 Jaxa, versatile and capable of opening all SEIKO watches. Any similar tool can also be use. Of course a Bergeon 5700-Z Case Opener would a privilege to have - acting both as a case opener and holder.
  • CASE HOLDER - Holds watch case securely.
    Plenty of varieties are available. Generally, watch case backs such as SKX007 are very tightly secured. Thus, a watch on case holder increases the area of hand grip for easier opening as compared to holding the watch itself and plying open with case opener.
  • CLEANING PUTTY - Holds hands, and removal of fingerprints and stains.
    E.g. Bergeon 6033 Rodico. We also use ethanol solution for cleaning purposes when putty cleaning ability is limited.
  • COMPRESSED AIR CANISTER - Removal of dust and dirt particles.
    We use compressed air cans as it gets the job done efficiently and effectively. Alternatively, any common air duster for cameras can be utilised as well.
  • DIAL PROTECTOR - Prevent scratching and damaging the dial while removing the hands.
    E.g. Bergeon 6938 Dial Protection. Alternatively, you may also use a transparent plastic film. One good example which we prefer to use is a Food Grade Disposable Poly Gloves. Not only does it protects the dial from scratches, it also protects the hands.
  • EYE LOUPE - Magnification device used to see small details more closely
    Useful when affixing hands and spotting dusts.
  • HANDS REMOVER - Removal of the hands on the movement.
    E.g. Bergeon #1 Watch Tool Presto Hand Remover 30636-1, one of the most commonly used, allows easy and precise removal of the hands without damaging the dial surface.
  • HANDS SETTING TOOL - Affixing hands onto the movement.
    E.g. Bergeon Professional Hand Setter 8935, our favourite but a premium choice. Other affordable and similar tools are available.
  • MOVEMENT HOLDERS - Holds the watch movement in place.
    This is entirely optional. You will be able do all watch modification without this. However, it is highly recommended when using tools such as Bergeon Professional Hand Setter 8935 and 6012-4-P.
  • TWEEZERS - Handling small watch parts.
    Highly recommended to get a fine-pointed and anti-magnetic tweezers.

 

 

NOTES

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.

 

 

[VIDEO TUTORIAL] HOW TO MODIFY A SEIKO SNK

Courtesy of Eric Y / Lume Shot

 

 

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Please note that Lucius Atelier does not guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of any information of this article and on the external websites. In no event shall Lucius Atelier be liable for any special, direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damages or any damages whatsoever, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tort, arising out of or in connection with the use of the service or the contents of the service from this article and the external websites.

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WARNING: Modification and/or customisation of a watch will generally void its warranty.


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