Modding a watch can be addictive. If you are a creative type, finding just the right parts to make your very own perfect watch can be an interesting journey.
As we’ve covered in the past, the Seiko SKX007/009 dive watch has the most aftermarket products available for modification. But what’s fun is checking out the world of watch hobbyists and small companies that produce very specific parts for very specific watches.
Let’s take the Citizen BJ8050-08E, nicknamed the “Ecozilla.” This tank-like solar-powered dive watch has a proprietary strap and lug attachment that makes sense from a functional standpoint, but limits collectors’ ability to use straps with standard width ends. In comes Suppa Parts, a co-brand of Stevral/Raven/Benarus, which makes an adapter to fit the Ecozilla and its automatic counterpart the NH6930-09F (the “Autozilla”), so they can use standard 24 mm straps. This opens up opportunities for Zilla lovers to use any leather, steel or nylon bands to secure their heavy-duty divers onto their wrists. $70 plus shipping for a brushed or blasted finish.
The last I checked Suppa Parts is offering its own Casio G-Shock strap adapter, which allows certain G-Shock models to use one-piece, pass through Zulu straps for the ultimate tactical setup. County Comm and Broadarrow.net also offer their $15 versions, which are predecessors to the Suppa version, which is made of stainless steel and go for $35 plus shipping.
Admittedly, I have owned an Ecozilla and Casio GW6900 just to try these adapters.
But the extend of my love to try very specific parts made for very specific watches doesn’t end there. My favorite aftermarket mod product is the Murphy Bezel. Dave Murphy of Murphy Manufacturing is a watch lover who produces drain valves for photographic and x-ray processing machines. He invented three styles of bezels for the Vostok Amphibia and Seiko SKX007/009. His coin-edge and smooth bezels do not ratchet but are perfectly machined and look incredible. Prices range from $36-43 and sell out quickly. Email Dave to get on his early notification list for inventory replenishment.
How did Dave get into the business of selling complete bezels?
“Everything I make, I first made because I wanted one. I made the VO1010 style bezels nearly five years ago because I was doing a watch mod on a Vostok of mine,” he said. “The [Seiko bezel] came one day when I noticed that a SKX007 bezel insert would fit properly over the Vostok crystal. I used my VO1010 drawings as a starting point, and revised the drawings to accept the insert. Again, because I wanted one for my own.”
Now, getting even more specific, is a guy in England who makes hand-turned custom screws for the Seiko “Tuna” dive watch family. This Seiko watch has a shroud that covers the base watchcase to protect it from knocks. Andy Stockley, a member of the Seiko and Citizen Watch Forum, sells custom screws that secure the shroud to the case. He offers a variety of finishes in for screws using Allen keys, Torx wrenches and traditional Phillip-head screwdrivers. They sell for $25 for a set a four.
Andy explained to worn&wound that he was looking for replacement screws for a mod project on a vintage Tuna but could not find suitable ones so he decided to try to make his own.
“I had a friend in the engineering supply business source me some stainless steel Allens in the right thread size, but they had too great a head diameter and the industrial finish was, let’s put it this way, not suitable for use on a watch where they would be seen,” he said. “I had nothing else, so I bolted my electric drill to the bench and started to experiment with turning the heads down to diameter and making a more attractive head shape and finish.”
A commercial artist by profession, Andy has found great satisfaction is creating a needed product from one of his favorite watch models.
“Thankfully, the forum members have carried-on liking the screws I make and I’ve met a large number of great people in the Seiko hobby. Offering these screws has been a great way to be involved with, and hopefully to contribute a little to, this brilliant hobby,” he said.
Other one-man specialty operations include several eBay sellers.
WJean28 is a Canada-based seller who offers aftermarket rubber straps and metal bracelets for Seiko divers. His Super Oyster is a popular add-on to the SKX007.
Jmk500 (Jonathan “Swedefreak” Koch, aka Mr. Seiko) specializes in crystals and other Seiko parts. His Bubble Boy is high-domed mineral crystal for collectible Seiko dive watches that adds a spectacular vintage look.
Twente(o) in Australia sells a wide-assortment of spring bars. He sells special spring bars for Seiko dive watches that use a wider diameter tip (1.1 mm) but use a thinner diameter tube to fit most aftermarket straps not made for Seiko’s fatter spring bars.
This article is just a glimpse into the world of guys who make special items for cult favorite watches. But each of these vendors here are people who I have personally dealt with in my watch modding journeys. In my experience, each of these sellers has offered a high-quality aftermarket product a fair price.
Have fun exploring and be careful, you just might end up buying a watch just to get a special part for it. At the time of publication, I’ve already ordered a Murphy bezel for a project I don’t even have the base watch for.
by Li Wang