Watch Modding 101: Ultimate Guide For The Best Watches To Mod - Exquisite Timepieces
Home / Blog / Watch Modding 101: Ultimate Guide For The Best Watches To Mod


Watch Modding 101

Watch Modding 101: Ultimate Guide For The Best Watches To Mod

Watch collecting can be very exciting when first getting involved. Whether it is the notion that a great timepiece will boost your self-esteem and motivation to move upward in life, a fascination with mechanical engineering, and/or an interest in industrial design, there is a large amount of knowledge to gain and a seemingly endless supply of new products to keep one’s interest.

After some time, and depending on one’s inclinations, you may find yourself wanting something else. Do you find yourself thinking a product is close to perfect except for one or two aspects? Has a brand created combinations of products that are not quite what you want? 

Are you someone inclined towards tinkering with objects in an attempt to improve them or simply make them more unique? If the answer is yes to any of those (or all), watch modding may be for you.

What is Watch Modding?

Watch modding entails taking an existing watch and other parts, whether aftermarket or sourced from the original manufacturer (OEM), and putting them together to create a unique combination. 

Swapping straps and bracelets could be considered a straightforward and low-risk modification, but watch modding usually entails more drastic alterations, even if they are as simple as swapping a strap. 

Easy modifications include swapping bezels and bezel inserts and changing cases on G-Shocks. Watch modding also includes switching hands, dials, and case parts to the point that modders often assemble complete watches from existing components.

While the line between building a watch and modding a watch may get blurry at times, if one is designing new parts for a timepiece that they want to create, then I would say you have entered product design and manufacturing and are no longer simply modding a watch. 

Best Watches to Mod

While some suppliers make parts to modify high-end watches, it is best to leave those to experienced modders, watchmakers, and those with a stomach strong enough to endure a mistake should something go wrong. For those getting started and less than iron stomachs, there are plenty of options for modifying watches. 

G-Shocks are definitely some of the easiest and best watches to mod. With many retailers providing watch modding parts to swap cases and straps, it is possible to create many unique looks with very simple tools, often supplied with these watch mod kits. 

Additionally, to change a case and strap on a G-Shock, you never have to take the module apart, meaning all its water resistance remains intact. There are dial and screen swaps that can be done, but those are slightly more advanced. 

The next best entry point into watch modding is Seiko watch mods. The most popular is the SKX line, but with the discontinuation of the ISO-Certified SKX models, other options have come up. The new Seiko 5 line is a popular option, as are other affordable Seiko dive watches. 

Additionally, companies make aftermarket watch modding parts and supply genuine Seiko movements that make assembling a unique watch possible. Want a 38mm SKX-style GMT with a black and gold case? It is possible with aftermarket parts. This is truly a space to let creativity run wild.

If cost is no object, it is possible to mod Swiss luxury watches. If your wallet and nerves can stomach it, there are a myriad of aftermarket dials, bezels, and hands for major Swiss brands. Anything that is not reversible will likely hurt the resale value, but if you must have the most unique watch in the room, this may be the way to go. 

How to Mod Your Watch

If you are convinced at this rate that modding watches is for you, here are some ways to get started:

Pay Someone Else

If you want a unique watch but do not have the time or patience to do it yourself, numerous professional watch modders will create your idea for a fee.  A stroll through watch modding communities online will reveal other watch modders who will happily create a custom Seiko for you.

There are others for high-end Swiss brands, but they feel more akin to brands on their own than modifiers considering the costs associated with those timepieces. That being said, if watch modding appeals to you, paying someone else is likely out of the question. 

Gather The Right Tools

After you have decided that modding is an endeavor you wish to pursue, picking up some essential watchmaking tools would be the next step. Plenty of affordable watch mod kits available from Amazon and eBay are enough to remove case backs and bezels. Looking for one with a small air blower pump will be beneficial should you want to swap dials and hands.

With that, should you wish to get involved with changing dials and hands, you will want to pick up a movement holder, dial holder/pad, and hand removal tool. There are additional covers to protect the dial from scratches while removing the hands. While not required, many have found purchasing a watch bench mat very helpful. 

If you want to swap crystals (for example, changing a watch with a mineral crystal to a sapphire one), you will need a watch crystal press. If possible, look for a press that allows for uniform pressure on the crystal, and avoid those that use a lever to press the crystal into place. 

A cleaning putty is viewed as a requirement by many. It will be extremely useful in cleaning up any excess oil, along with pesky dust and fingerprint marks. 

Parts You Can Modify

There are tons of watch modding parts available, each with its own difficulty and risk. Below are some of the most common watch modifications based on their difficulty level:

Bracelet and Strap 

The easiest part of a watch to modify, as all you need is a strap-changing tool to release the spring bar from the case. Changing the strap/bracelet will alter the look and wearing experience of a watch. 

With many suppliers offering straps and bracelets that are much higher quality than the original offerings on many Seikos and G-Shocks, upgraded straps and bracelets are viewed as a necessary first step by many watch modders.


Changing rotating bezels can be quite simple, as the only tools required are a bezel removal tool and something to press the new bezel in place. 

The increased difficulty comes from making sure the bezel insert is aligned (should you purchase a bezel and insert separately) and the bezel spring is correctly installed. With some careful reading and double-checking, swapping bezels should be reasonably simple. 


Did your watch come with a closed caseback, but you wish it had a display caseback? Many part suppliers provide aftermarket casebacks with mineral and sapphire crystals. A caseback removal tool that works with your watch (some require special tools) is all that is needed. 

Care is required to ensure dust and debris do not get into the watch during this process, as it can cause damage to the movement and prevent it from working correctly. Additionally, make sure any necessary gaskets are in place to ensure proper water resistance. 

Case, Crystal, and Crown

Should you wish for a different style of case, many mod suppliers offer cases that fit bracelets designed for specific models but in different shapes and finishes. 

Ranging from homages to famous watch designs and various PVD finishes, a new case will drastically change the look of a watch. It requires removing all other watch modding parts (caseback, crown/stem, movement, and dial), so it can be a bit more involved. 

Changing the crystal is similar in difficulty, as it also requires the removal of all other parts. Additionally, if you want to change the case, you will most likely have to install a new crystal. Some suppliers do offer cases with crystals already installed. 

Changing the crown is slightly more simple but still requires the removal of the caseback, along with engaging with the movement to release the winding stem from the movement.

Again, similar to the case back, there are gaskets in place for the crystal and crown. These gaskets must be lubricated and installed to ensure your watch has the proper water resistance. 

Dial, Hands, and Movement

To change the dial, you will have to remove the caseback, winding crown and stem, and movement from the watch. Once you remove the movement and dial as a single unit, you must remove the hands and then the dial. Considering the multiple steps and risks of damaging parts, extra care and attention should be paid to these modifications. 

This process will also require several special tools not always found in a simple watch mod kit. As mentioned earlier, dial protectors can be purchased to help ensure your modifications are a success. 

Once the dial is removed, securing the dial to the movement will require a small amount of carefully applied adhesive and aligning the dial feet to the correct points on the dial. For popular Seiko watch mods, there are specific dials for specific movements. 

Some suppliers make dials with multiple sets of dial feet, meaning the end user needs to remove the excess dial feet for their specific use case. While the dial is removed, this is also an opportune time to change a date wheel, should that be desired. 

If you would like to perform a movement swap, assuming all of the parts are compatible, the same removal and dial application steps are involved. With affordable dual-time movements now available, this is currently a very popular modification. 

Again, there are specific dials for specific movements; however, some are easily modified to work with the newer affordable GMT movements that have come to market recently. 

Where to Purchase Watch Modding Parts

If you now have ideas of the watch you want to create, here are some other websites with watch modding parts and resources to assist in your watch modding journey and ensure that it is a success. 

Additionally, each website has its own unique offerings. Assuming you pick for the same model/movement (i.e. NH35 and SKX007), parts for the same model and movement should be interchangeable, so you can pick and choose from various dealers to create your ideal watch. 


Namoki is truly a one-stop shop for watch modding parts, with a plethora of options, including complete watch mod kits that give you everything you need to begin your watch modding journey. 

Additionally, they have numerous resources to assist with any questions you may have. Their kits may be an ideal place to start, but they offer the ability for you to assemble your own custom watch from their catalog of parts and tools. 

Lucius Atelier

Lucius Atelier is very similar to Namoki in terms of watch modding parts but with slightly different offerings and more premium options such as meteorite and gemstone dials. They also offer a customization service, allowing you to pick your desired parts, and their watch modders will assemble them for you. 

Crystal Times/ Seiko Mods

The name of the website depends on your geographic location, but both offer the same extensive catalog of parts. Additionally, they have a configurator on their website if you would like to get an idea of what your finished watch will look like once it is assembled. As the name suggests, Seiko Mods is also one of the top options if you want to create the best and most unique Seiko watch mods.

DLW Watches

With some distinctive dial and hand choices, and an easy way to order custom configurations, DLW Watches is a great place to look for Seiko watch modding parts, as well as aftermarket parts for Orient watches. Their handcrafted dial series will surely elevate the look of your project.

Watch & Style

Watch & Style’s standout offering is a large selection of watch modding parts for the SKX013. Should you be looking for options for cases, bezels, and crowns for your perfect SKX013 mod, Watch & Style is a good place to look. Additionally, they offer a myriad of watch modding parts for other popular Seiko models. 


Watch collecting can be a very in-depth and overwhelming hobby to engage with, especially with discussions often centering on fluctuating values and perceived hierarchies of brands. 

For those looking for an escape from that, many turn to watch modding. While it can be equally as overwhelming and in-depth, the community surrounding modding is typically more welcoming and supportive. 

Additionally, it offers a way to engage with the watch-collecting hobby that is much more affordable (assuming one is sticking with affordable watches) and creates something unique instead of simply buying a watch from a retailer. Modding offers an opportunity to have a better understanding of how watches are made and function and to create a form of self-expression in the process. 

About Exquisite Timepieces

Established in 1998, Exquisite Timepieces is your one-stop shop for all things luxury watches! We are an authorized dealer for 60+ luxury watch brands including Omega, Hublot, Seiko, & Longines! We are proud to showcase one of the world’s largest pre-owned watch collections, including renowned brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe. Check out our brand new watch arrivals here and popular pre-owned listings here.

as seen on
To Top