NWC mag has got into the Seiko MOD scene kinda late, we admit that. But this is set to grow and spread the MOD cult beyond Seiko to other brands, including vintage Swiss. We found Vinmov’s great value Omega, Breitling, Longines, Zenith etc models last week.
But let’s get back to Seiko and catch-up with Alex Robertson, the head honcho at Seikomods, who kindly took time to educate NWC about the Cult of MOD and where it’s going. This is a democracy of Indie watch building and there is something for everyone, even if you have a fairly basic watch-fettling ability.
NWC; How fast is this market growing?
AR; The U.K. market alone has grown in excess of 1000% in the last year.
To start understanding why, it is important to know what Seiko watch modding is, and the community behind it. Seiko watch modding is the act of taking a Seiko watch, and customizing it with parts to make it truly unique. The main components of a Seiko watch are the Case, Case Back, Case Back Gasket, Movement, Crown, Bezel, Bezel Insert, Bezel Click Spring, Dial, Hands, Chapter Ring, Strap, Springbars, Sapphire Crystal and Crystal Gasket.
This is the foundation of parts that are used on the main 3 moddable watches (SKX007, SKX013, and SRP Turtle). These three Seiko models are the basis of what Seiko Modding was built on.
NWC; How did you get into modded Seikos?
I created the first aftermarket screw down crown, and at that point didn’t realise that it would be the springboard for what was to come. At that time, Crystaltimes was focused on the design and manufacture of Sapphire Crystals. That first crown we produced led to making every other metal part, and really opened the market for watch modding.
This is where the Seiko Watch Modding community comes into play. Ever since that first crown was released, the idea of customizing your Seiko watch was born. This opened the idea both to us, and others, that there were more parts that could be produced so you could create a totally unique watch. We started producing metal parts one-by-one to cover all the main components needed to completely customize the main three Seiko models.
To date we have produced over 400 aftermarket parts. A HUGE turning point in the niche was when we came out with the first aftermarket case in 2018. Producing this case created the opportunity for community members to build an entire watch from scratch and we did not realise what a huge turning point this was.
Since that first case “CT700” we have designed and manufactured 15 unique case bodies to “Build Your DREAM MOD”. Over the span of 4 years since 2016, the Seiko Mod Community grew from just a few hundred, to tens of thousands of modders.
NWC: Why did “modding” take off as a trend?
AR: In the beginning, Seiko Modding was a tiny niche of enthusiasts that did the occasional crown swap, or crystal swap back in 2016. This tight knit group was primarily the older demographic, and at that time the reason for customizing the watch was to either increase the water resistance or upgrade the quality of part itself.
Furthermore, only stock watch models were being upgraded as there weren’t any aftermarket cases to base the build on. As suppliers of aftermarket parts like ourselves started to produce more components to customize the watch even further, we started seeing a wave of new watch modders enter the market in the younger demographic.
When we created the first ever aftermarket case in 2018, the CT700, this enabled modders to build an entire watch from scratch, and we feel this was the major turning point in the niche that put Seiko Modding on the map.
NWC: Why is it so popular, because many would say that a stock Seiko, new or vintage is a perfectly good watch?
AR: Over the past few years it has become more evident that people like to own something unique to themselves. We started seeing a boom of niche businesses come into the market as this need for customization became more apparent. This goes for many different sectors, not just watch modding.
The idea that you can build an entire watch from scratch with custom parts to make it truly unique to your liking is what makes Seiko Modding so popular.
Another aspect of it becoming more popular is the community itself. The Seiko Modding Community is one of the most passionate and welcoming communities out there. We feel this also makes it attractive for those looking to get into a hobby or start a small business of their own offering build services for clients as there are so many resources and “Helpful Hands” in the community to make it more inviting.
As soon as you step foot into this space you are welcomed by an army of Seiko Mod Enthusiasts that want nothing more than to help you have an incredible experience building your custom watch. So, the combination of being able to build a fully customized watch to your liking from the ground up, and a welcoming community has made it so popular to be in this space.
NWC: Which models are most popular and why?
AR: The foundation of the Seiko Watch Modding Community was built on 3 models: The SKX007, SKX013 and SRP Turtle. These three watch models not only provide the perfect foundation for building a custom watch, but also are built in a way that makes producing aftermarket parts in large varieties more attainable.
Having base models that are simple in build design allows for a larger volume of community members to enter the space. The SKX007 is largely the most popular model to build, not only due to the amount of parts available, but also it’s size and shape. The SKX013 is basically a smaller version of the SKX007, which makes it popular for community members with smaller wrists, and to produce some variation to its big brother (SKX007). The SRP Turtle “Cushion Case” also falls into the base model category for its availability of parts, and unique case shape that of a turtle.
NWC: Does Seikomods sell complete watches?
AR: We are a parts supplier only, so we offer parts directly to the consumer and professional watch builders. Our expertise is in the design and manufacturer of custom watch parts. The actual building of the watch is left in the hands for community members, and professional builders who created custom pieces for their clients.
We have incredible relationships with community members and professional watch builders, and building watches ourselves for customers isn’t our area. We have the duty of supplying this great community with exceptional parts to mod their watches, and that task is our only focus. As far as how many customers we supply each year; last year (2020) we supplied over 35,000 customers. Back in 2016 we were maybe supplying 1,000 customers total.
We attribute our growth over the last 5 years to the ever growing passionate #seikomodsfamily community who have supported us through every step.
NWC: What is the future of modding?
AR: We feel there are two areas that are the most important topic areas for both community experience, and growth of the community. One, the ability to conceptualize a build/mod, and envision how it is going to look once you put it together. Right now, community members are primarily using their imagination to visualize how a build/mod is going to look in their head, and sometimes it does not always turn out the way you expect it to.
We believe the future of modding will see a configurator created, that will allow you to see how your build/mod will look before purchasing the parts. This will not only improve the outcome of your build/mod but increase the experience that you have.
Also, we launched our apps into both app store(s) in 2020. We developed the app so community members can grab their mod parts on the go, and to increase their shopping experience with an easy-to-use interface and checkout experience. We see this as an ever-growing area that we will expand upon and will likely see more of in the space.
Second, the ease of access for new watch modders“NOOBS” to enter the space needs to be improved.
New watch modders are spending countless hours watching YouTube videos, reading tutorials, and learning about tools needed to build the watch. We feel that having some kind of “Mod Box” that a new watch modder can acquire containing all the tools, parts, and instructions needed to build an entire watch will entice new modders to enter the space.
Not only would this help new modders, but it is also educating the next generation of community members. Furthermore, the educational aspect has been and is still something that we continue to expand upon in our resources section of the website. Imagine being able to have one box that teaches you how to build a watch and has all the items necessary to execute that – awesome right?
On top of that having a configurator that enables you to visualize how your mod is going to look before you get the parts needed to execute the build. This we feel is the future of modding, and we look forward to playing a large role in it.
Feeling inspired? Visit Seikomods at these websites:
1. Crystaltimes USA: crystaltimesusa.com (Services US, CA and MX).
2. SeikoMods: seikomods.com (Services UK, Europe, and major other countries).