Noob trying watch modding

Ok folks.  General question here.    I want to start modding or even making my own watch.  However I haze zero experience.   My question is, say I buy a random movement, no particular or specific one, how do I go about finding a case, dial and crown that'll fit it? I assume I measure everything on the movement of course but are those measurements what im looking for in a case.     Example is lets say FUBAR movement is 41mm in diameter, do I look for a 41mm case?  Any help is appreciated?

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Other than that the movement has to be significantly smaller than the case, I’m not sure. I’ve wondered this myself. I dont think it’s just size though, the movement has to not only fit in a case, but the stem has to work with that case, and the dial and hands have to work with both. 
 

I think the thing to do, if possible, is find a post online where somebody has done it and copy what they did as a way to learn. 
 

Or, there are tons of Seiko parts out there. You can build a complete watch with parts from ailexpress, or get parts and mod a Seiko 5. 

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Actually, the easiest way would be to buy a watch on AliExpress with a standard movement, and mod it as a first project. The key benefits of this approach are:

a) In the lowest price segment the assembled watches are cheaper than ordering their parts individually. (If you mess up, you're not out of a lot of money.)

b) You know that you have all the parts for a functioning watch.

c) You can measure the parts that you are looking to replace, and order the replacement parts knowing they will fit.

While dial-size may vary, there are certain common dial diameters. For example, 28.5 mm is very common for 4R35/NH35 movements, as it covers just the movement and its spacer ring. Watch cases will state the acceptable dial sizes, but it becomes fuzzy with a lot of hand sets.

Do you already have all the tools you will need?

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Modding and building watches is always tricky unless you buy parts specifically designed to fit eachother. The issue is really in the fact the tolerances are very tight.

For movements and cases it's no different, the case should be designed specifically for the movement you have otherwise it's a gamble, even with measuring beforehand. If an alignment pin, or stem hole, or case depth are off by even a fraction of a mm it could make the whole thing not fit. I've had such experiences many times before.

Luckily alot of watch parts can be found at low or reasonable prices on places like AliExpress. So if you are forced to experiment because you don't have a popular or standard part you can without standing to waste alot of money. I have had many successful but also many failed experiments fitting random watch parts.

@hbein2022 s advice to buy a preassembled watch to start is spot on if you want to learn first. You can see how everything fits together that way and orient yourself better if attempting your own build in the future. Japanese manufacturers like Seiko and Miyota tend to be the most popular for modding.

Last piece of advice is to be patient and take your time. It's annoying sometimes to have to wait a couple weeks for a single part that's missing to finish your build. But if once you get it you rush out of excitement or desperation you can end up breaking or damaging an existing part that already works fine (e.g. hands, dial). Then you have to wait again, or search again in the worst of cases...

Good luck and have fun!

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Check out CrystalTimes or Namoki. They have everything you need to build from case to strap. I'd start with a budget mod like maybe pick up an Orient Ray or Mako, get a aftermarket bezel, bezel insert and a sapphire crystal and start with that.  

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tonmed

Modding and building watches is always tricky unless you buy parts specifically designed to fit eachother. The issue is really in the fact the tolerances are very tight.

For movements and cases it's no different, the case should be designed specifically for the movement you have otherwise it's a gamble, even with measuring beforehand. If an alignment pin, or stem hole, or case depth are off by even a fraction of a mm it could make the whole thing not fit. I've had such experiences many times before.

Luckily alot of watch parts can be found at low or reasonable prices on places like AliExpress. So if you are forced to experiment because you don't have a popular or standard part you can without standing to waste alot of money. I have had many successful but also many failed experiments fitting random watch parts.

@hbein2022 s advice to buy a preassembled watch to start is spot on if you want to learn first. You can see how everything fits together that way and orient yourself better if attempting your own build in the future. Japanese manufacturers like Seiko and Miyota tend to be the most popular for modding.

Last piece of advice is to be patient and take your time. It's annoying sometimes to have to wait a couple weeks for a single part that's missing to finish your build. But if once you get it you rush out of excitement or desperation you can end up breaking or damaging an existing part that already works fine (e.g. hands, dial). Then you have to wait again, or search again in the worst of cases...

Good luck and have fun!

Last piece of advice is to be patient and take your time. It's annoying sometimes to have to wait a couple weeks for a single part that's missing to finish your build. But if once you get it you rush out of excitement or desperation you can end up breaking or damaging an existing part that already works fine (e.g. hands, dial). Then you have to wait again, or search again in the worst of cases...

Most likely something will go wrong, but that is okay. My first mod was not that pretty, but I wore the watch anyhow, vowing I could do better. Amazingly enough the Invicta Pro Diver that was my first mod is still alive an well today, and looks like this:

Image

Even though it is probably on its third or fourth dial, I'm not quite done with it. I'm thinking of transferring dial and movement to a different case, and find out how good I am brushing that shiny case, and I might switch the crystal to get rid of the magnifier. Again, with a watch that cost $70 several iterations ago, what do I have to lose? 

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With Aliexpress you can put together a whole watch. I did it for about $85 not including strap. I will say, it's better to have the right tools. It will make you life and build easier. I didn't have the tool to install hands and that was probably the hardest part. I also used some YouTube channels like It's Another Watch as references. 

I will say, I don't agree with buying a cheap watch on Aliexpress. Just because you could buy all the parts to build a watch and it'll cost the same as the cheap watch. Then you're still putting out the money for the parts. 

Just remember, everything is cheaper on Aliexpress because it's Chinese made. The other websites will be more expensive but seem to have better quality parts. Namoki has the same case I used with many similar features. Their's was rated at 200m WR(@$160), Aliexpress version only 100m WR(@$40).

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I would definitely start with parts that are designed to fit one another. Namoki, Lucius Atelier, etc. You could also use Aliexpress but, as others have said the parts may not be the same quality.

Trying to find disparate parts that fit together is very difficult... not impossible... but for a beginner it's not easy. The tolerances are tiny. 

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hbein2022

Actually, the easiest way would be to buy a watch on AliExpress with a standard movement, and mod it as a first project. The key benefits of this approach are:

a) In the lowest price segment the assembled watches are cheaper than ordering their parts individually. (If you mess up, you're not out of a lot of money.)

b) You know that you have all the parts for a functioning watch.

c) You can measure the parts that you are looking to replace, and order the replacement parts knowing they will fit.

While dial-size may vary, there are certain common dial diameters. For example, 28.5 mm is very common for 4R35/NH35 movements, as it covers just the movement and its spacer ring. Watch cases will state the acceptable dial sizes, but it becomes fuzzy with a lot of hand sets.

Do you already have all the tools you will need?

No just the basically watch/eyeglass screw driver set BUT I don't want to do anything that involves screws.  Maybe dial swaps and case replace things like that to pop my cherry first.  

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tonmed

Modding and building watches is always tricky unless you buy parts specifically designed to fit eachother. The issue is really in the fact the tolerances are very tight.

For movements and cases it's no different, the case should be designed specifically for the movement you have otherwise it's a gamble, even with measuring beforehand. If an alignment pin, or stem hole, or case depth are off by even a fraction of a mm it could make the whole thing not fit. I've had such experiences many times before.

Luckily alot of watch parts can be found at low or reasonable prices on places like AliExpress. So if you are forced to experiment because you don't have a popular or standard part you can without standing to waste alot of money. I have had many successful but also many failed experiments fitting random watch parts.

@hbein2022 s advice to buy a preassembled watch to start is spot on if you want to learn first. You can see how everything fits together that way and orient yourself better if attempting your own build in the future. Japanese manufacturers like Seiko and Miyota tend to be the most popular for modding.

Last piece of advice is to be patient and take your time. It's annoying sometimes to have to wait a couple weeks for a single part that's missing to finish your build. But if once you get it you rush out of excitement or desperation you can end up breaking or damaging an existing part that already works fine (e.g. hands, dial). Then you have to wait again, or search again in the worst of cases...

Good luck and have fun!

Thank you I will do that.   I kinda want to just build my own seiko 5 since everyone and their grandma have parts for it.

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GasWorks

I would definitely start with parts that are designed to fit one another. Namoki, Lucius Atelier, etc. You could also use Aliexpress but, as others have said the parts may not be the same quality.

Trying to find disparate parts that fit together is very difficult... not impossible... but for a beginner it's not easy. The tolerances are tiny. 

Gotcha.   Stick with heavy hitters cause they have the support and parts. 

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Adam646

No just the basically watch/eyeglass screw driver set BUT I don't want to do anything that involves screws.  Maybe dial swaps and case replace things like that to pop my cherry first.  

If you are doing a Seiko (NHxx) build, you can get away without screws. Many other movements use screws to hold the dial feet and to attach clamps to hold the movement in place. Seiko uses a friction ring for that. 

What you will need are:

a) A watch adjustment kit (basic set of tools to open the watch case, switch straps or adjust bracelets)

b) A movement cushion or movement holder

c) A small air blower bulb

d) Tweezers - I personally use bronze tweezers, but that is up to you.

e) Rodico putty - Used to clean the watch, but also to hold small parts

f) A set of watch hand pushers

g) A watch hand removal tool

h) Small pliers to cut the watch stem

i) A small metal file (also for the watch stem)

j) Calipers to measure the distance to reduce the watch stem to

k) Pin vise to hold the stem

(I am assuming you have a loupe and screw drivers.)

I personally also like to have a small rubber ball to open and close watch cases, and I found that a bright desk light really helps, as well as a mat or some containers to hold small parts. 

Anybody else let me know if I forgot something.

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hbein2022

If you are doing a Seiko (NHxx) build, you can get away without screws. Many other movements use screws to hold the dial feet and to attach clamps to hold the movement in place. Seiko uses a friction ring for that. 

What you will need are:

a) A watch adjustment kit (basic set of tools to open the watch case, switch straps or adjust bracelets)

b) A movement cushion or movement holder

c) A small air blower bulb

d) Tweezers - I personally use bronze tweezers, but that is up to you.

e) Rodico putty - Used to clean the watch, but also to hold small parts

f) A set of watch hand pushers

g) A watch hand removal tool

h) Small pliers to cut the watch stem

i) A small metal file (also for the watch stem)

j) Calipers to measure the distance to reduce the watch stem to

k) Pin vise to hold the stem

(I am assuming you have a loupe and screw drivers.)

I personally also like to have a small rubber ball to open and close watch cases, and I found that a bright desk light really helps, as well as a mat or some containers to hold small parts. 

Anybody else let me know if I forgot something.

Oh in that case yeah I have A,C, D, E, G, H, I, J so yeah that kinda why I just want to do basic entry level type mod.  Hell I even considering buy one of those cheap Winner watches just so I can take apart the movement in that and try to put it back together but hell even im debating on doing that right now.   

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Adam646

Oh in that case yeah I have A,C, D, E, G, H, I, J so yeah that kinda why I just want to do basic entry level type mod.  Hell I even considering buy one of those cheap Winner watches just so I can take apart the movement in that and try to put it back together but hell even im debating on doing that right now.   

You can definitely do that. From my experience working on a movement is one step up in regards to controlling where parts are placed, and the ability to control components with tweezers. (I've done only enough work on movements to know that I won't touch that until I have to, and have enough time on my hands.)

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I am wary of giving up credit card info on that aliexpress site you can use:

https://www.esslinger.com/

All the parts are specified with numbers so you can actually match things up.  If you are going to put a movement in a case, usually you need a movement spacer ring.

They also have most of the parts categorized so it is easier to organize your build.  

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moemoe

I am wary of giving up credit card info on that aliexpress site you can use:

https://www.esslinger.com/

All the parts are specified with numbers so you can actually match things up.  If you are going to put a movement in a case, usually you need a movement spacer ring.

They also have most of the parts categorized so it is easier to organize your build.  

I was just thinking man it be nice to have a site to be able to know what will fit this and that