In the beginning it was two Canadian ex-pat watch enthusiasts in Hong Kong riding around the streets on a motorcycle dreaming of one day opening a store dedicated to watch modification and their own line of custom built watches.
This year the dream was realized.
The two guys, Jake Bourdeau (who we’ve profiled) and Noah Fuller, are early pioneers in the watch modding movement, where stock watches were customized with different dials, hands, chapter rings, bezel inserts and other elements.
While Fuller sadly passed away in 2011 after a year-long battle with cancer, his partner and protégée Bourdeau kept their dream alive, operating their online business Dagaz Watches/10Watches.com and bringing to market the “TII-Typhoon” 300m dive watch, a homage to the Seiko 6105-8000 series, released as a limited edition sequel to the “Tsunami” 300m, Fuller’s vision and a tribute to the Seiko 6309-704x series.
Today, Bourdeau has recently opened a retail location in a Hong Kong mall where customers can now walk in and work with Dagaz to create their own expression for their wrists. In addition to parts used for modding, Dagaz sells its own professional watches as well as customized Seiko SKX007/009 watches.
It’s the first brick and mortar shop focused on watch modding, which Bourdeau says has grown into an international scene since early days when it was primarily a small group of guys hanging out on watch forums coming up with ideas to customize stock watches.
The Dagaz Watch Ltd. store is located in a small commercial mall on the ground floor in Tsuen Wan N.T. in Hong Kong.
Most of the store’s space is dedicated to the workshop, storage and shipping areas, says Bourdeau. Three displays are visible to the public. There’s a computer terminal where customers can access the website and make their purchases directly through the web-store by PayPal or credit card if desired. The staff then packages the order on-site, while you wait.
“It’s a combination online and brick-and-mortar store,” says Bourdeau. “It’s practical for us because you can’t really place watch parts ‘out’ for the customer to handle like you normally would in a retail store.”
Prior to the store opening, Bourdeau had to meet clients in public spaces like restaurants and coffee houses and it became cumbersome to manage his schedule around these meetings. The former Dagaz office was an office and storage space in an industrial building that wasn’t suitable for meeting clients.
Bourdeau has designed the look of the store to feel on-brand, with red, black, grey and white (the company colors) used throughout.
“The whole shop is custom-built to my specs,” says Bourdeau. “There’s a nine foot tall wall behind the counter that separates the front and back of the shop while still keeping a feeling of continuity–a sense that the rear workshop and the storefront are one and the same while keeping the back private and quiet as a work area. The place features, of course, lots of watches and watch parts.”
What this means to customers is that Bourdeau has a more efficient operation now and he can devote more time to building watches. His wife Ming Ming and brother-in-law Po are key to the operations.
The retail space itself features dehumidified, ion plasma-cluster filtered air, custom watch-work area tables, cabinets/shelves and storage and lighting that accommodates both the need for a bright workshop area and pleasant showroom environment.
“They’re in for a warm welcome in a cool, calm, clean environment where they can take their time, check out the watches in the displays for themselves here in the store, talk shop for a bit, and hopefully walk out happy with either a new Dagaz watch or any parts and tools they may need for their latest project,” says Bourdeau.
One wonders about the growth potential of a watch modding industry. Bourdeau says watch modding has reached an all-time high in global interest.
“There are forums in all languages and in all countries that talk about modding,” he says. “Everywhere seems to love it these days, but the French have been really getting into it. They have a thing for vintage race/speed type looks these days.”
for more Dagaz watches please head to their webstore