And yeah, that’s a good thing we say at Northern Watch Co magazine, because for all the perfection and art of Grand Seiko, and the unbeatable value of a cooking Seiko 5 model, you need more to survive in the modern world where every jackass with money wants an AP Royal Oak or a Rolex Daytona.
You can never be that Swiss Tony fashionista brand, so what do you do? Embrace the fanboi base you have; innovate, learn, adapt and bend like the tree.
Hats off then to Seiko for recognising that MOD means remixing the elements of a brand, or a model line, to make your fave watch. By asking its fanbase for inspiration, Seiko shows that it has a keen interest in what its buyers want to see. That is a refreshing change from the Swiss brand ethos of `take it or leave it.’
Here’s the word from Seiko;
Seiko is proud to announce the winning Seiko 5 Sports watch from the CUSTOM WATCH BEATMAKER campaign.
Participants created their original Seiko 5 Sports watch by selecting and combining five watch parts on the website and voted on their favourite models. Each watch was paired with one of 32 original pieces of music created by eight up-and-coming artists who share the same value as the brand’s concept ‘‘Show Your Style.’’
The campaign ran from October 2020 to January 2021, and the winning watch with the most ‘‘likes’’ was selected from over 48,000 original designs and won about 8,500,000 votes out of the 16,000,000 total votes worldwide.
This watch incorporates a gold colour dial combined with a bezel with red and blue accents, adding a fresh timepiece to the Seiko 5 Sports collection. It will be available as a limited edition of 2,021 on selected Seiko Boutique Online websites in August 2021.
The great thing is that this will inspire more Modders out there to create gold dial Seiko watches, and tribute watches using the NH35/36 movement.
Ball has added a blue/green bezel option to its Roadmaster GMT model. Here’s the press info;
Engineered to the specifications of a 35-year Navy Mariner veteran, it’s the world’s first GMT timepiece with day and date functions, delivering utmost functionality.
The pioneering quick-set GMT push buttons revolutionize the way GMT hand is adjusted with its ease-of-use. The tough titanium material and COSC certified mechanical movement guarantee perfect performance in the most imperfect situations. Topping off with the darkness-conquering luminosity of the micro gas tube. The watch that once ran America’s railroads now empowers world explorers to live freely and fearlessly.
The stunning Blue & Green bezel version marks the latest addition to the signature Roadmaster Marine GMT ceramic series, a statement piece that fits for all occasions.
Limited to 1,000 pieces each. The Roadmaster Marine GMT Blue & Green bezel is now available for pre-order until 25 August 2021, at £2110.
Aragon watches has launched a new dive watch called the Hiro, with a 45mm case, plus internal turning bezel. So you can unscrew the button at the 2pm position and then set the inner bezel to your minutes available underwater.
It has a 200m depth resistance and is powered by the ever popular Seiko NH35 movement. Black, purple, green, blue or white dials. See-thru caseback as well, plus a superlume dial, not just the hands and markers.
There’s an intro video from their website below.
We also spotted a blue dial version on their site in the Sale at $149 – plus UK import duty and VAT of course. Still a very competitive price.
Namoki Mods have solved one of the big problems for a great many novice watch customisers and Modders. Namely, the fear of the cracking crystal in the press!
You see it isn’t easy fitting a crystal, and when you have paid decent money for a sapphire crystal, that can really spoil your day.
Often it’s a lack of experience combined with cheap crystal presses that leads to cracking. Cheaper plastic dies and poorly engineered press arm actuators tend to move slightly under pressure, or can be a micron or three out of alignment – and that causes the crystal to crack.
Always buy expensive – the best you can afford – tools if you are going to attempt to fix, or customise watches. It just makes the job harder using cheap stuff, and confession time, I’ve been there and seen the damaged casebacks when £10 case openers slipped from their tabs or the clamp holding the watch didn’t have four nicely chamfered tabs gripping the movement.
So Namoki now has a 38mm case, 3pm crown position, that comes complete with a crystal fitted. Blue or clear AR coating options too.
We think that’s the right way to go for your first few MOD watch projects, as it lets you tackle jobs like say fitting the hands and dial properly in your time. And you will need time to fit hands correctly, it’s difficult even with the right tools. Don’t forget the dial protector.
Prices start at $128 which includes a sterile crown and a chapter ring pre-fitted too. Great way to rehouse a reliable Seiko or Swiss movement that’s languishing inside a damaged case, where the plating has long since flaked off.
OK, we are in two minds about the latest Rolex Explorer with two-tone bracelet. Yes, it adds a kinda executive touch to a watch that has looked a little bit dated for a few decades. But 18ct gold centre links? Hmm, yeah it’s a bit Swiss Tony. Plus a 36mm case size is too small for much of the 50-60-something, male dominated market that Rolex enjoys. The watch collector market has got used to 40mm being the default size for a statement watch on the wrist. That’s all we are saying Rolex, so get that 39/41mm case option prototype tested and in production for September.
Rolex is presenting its new-generation Oyster Perpetual Explorer. At 36 mm, it returns to the size of the original model launched in 1953 following the first ascent to the summit of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on 29 May that year.
The new-generation Explorer is notably released in a yellow Rolesor version (combining Oystersteel and 18 ct yellow gold). The black dial, now lacquered, bears the index hour markers and emblematic 3, 6 and 9 numerals that are the cornerstones of the model’s personality, evoking the determination and spirit of adventure that give rise to great achievements.
The new-generation Explorer’s Chromalight display is particularly impressive. In dark conditions, the intensity of the blue glow emitted by the hour markers and hands now lasts longer thanks to the innovative and exclusive luminescent material with which they are filled or coated. In daylight, these display elements also have a brighter white hue.
The new-generation Explorer is equipped with calibre 3230, a movement at the forefront of watchmaking technology. Like all Rolex watches, the Oyster Perpetual Explorer carries the Superlative Chronometer certification, which ensures excellent performance on the wrist.
AN EXPLORATION TOOL
Presented in 1953, the Explorer is emblematic of the close ties between Rolex and exploration. In the 1930s, the brand began to equip numerous Himalayan expeditions with Oyster watches. Among these was the group that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were part of when they became the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, at 8,848 metres (29,028 feet).
This pioneering move illustrated the company’s ambition to use the world as a laboratory, testing its watches in real conditions in order to continually improve them. The feedback that Rolex received from the members of these different expeditions therefore had a direct influence on the evolution of its watches, making them more precise and robust.
GOLD CENTRE LINKS
Rolesor, the combination of 18 ct gold and Oystersteel on a Rolex watch, has been a signature feature of the brand since 1933, when the name was registered. It is a meeting of two metals: one, noble and precious, attractive for its lustre and stability; the other, highly resistant to corrosion, assuring strength and reliability. All of these qualities mirror the elegance and performance that come together in a Rolex watch.
On the yellow Rolesor version of the new-generation Explorer, the bezel, winding crown and centre links of the bracelet are in 18 ct yellow gold, while the case and outer links of the bracelet are in Oystersteel.
100m WATER RESISTANCE
The new-generation Explorer’s 36 mm Oyster case is guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet). Its middle case is crafted from a solid block of Oystersteel, a particularly corrosion-resistant alloy. The case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only Rolex watchmakers to access the movement. The Twinlock winding crown, fitted with a double waterproofness system, screws down securely against the case. The crystal is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire. The waterproof Oyster case provides optimum protection for the watch’s movement.
MODERN MOVEMENT, PLENTY OF RESERVE
The new-generation Explorer is equipped with calibre 3230, a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex that was released in 2020. At the forefront of watchmaking technology, this self-winding mechanical movement led to the filing of several patents, and offers outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.
Calibre 3230 incorporates the Chronergy escapement patented by Rolex, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic fields. The movement is fitted with an optimized blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy that makes it up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks. The blue Parachrom hairspring is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position. The oscillator is fitted on the Rolex-designed and -patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance.
Calibre 3230 is equipped with a self-winding module via a Perpetual rotor. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of calibre 3230 extends to approximately 70 hours.
We are big Seiko fans here so discovering this Seiko Mod homage to the mighty Submariner kinda made our day. Here’s the word from Namoki;
A Seiko SKX Submariner mod is a great way to tap into the style of a Submariner without having to deal with exorbitant Rolex prices, or their years-long waitlist just for the opportunity to purchase the watch. Furthermore, there’s a serious lack of aftermarket parts. Nobody’s modifying a $10,000 Rolex (I think…). Building your own custom SKX007 Submariner-style mod opens up the door to loads of options, as we supply a wide range of Seiko mod parts for such a build. With our NMK909 Submariner style case and mod parts, you can create a SKX007 Submariner mod that is true to your own vision, at a fraction of the price of a Rolex Submariner. In addition, you can forget about sky-high prices for service, as our Seiko Submariner case uses rock solid Seiko movements (like the NH36 movements that we sell – these guys don’t stop working!).
Making a SKX Submariner mod Your Own Way
Let’s face it – a SKX007 Submariner mod could be one of the most attractive Seiko mod ideas out there. Unlike many SKX mods, a SKX007 Submariner mod starts with a new case that uses standard SKX parts. You can use the old case for another project, or just buy all the parts you need without starting with a donor SKX. If you need to know all the parts you need to build a full watch from scratch, this checklist may come in handy.
We feature both steel and polished PVD Seiko submariner cases that make a great starting point for any skx submariner mod. Our NMK909 case takes Seiko OEM and aftermarket skx parts, so you don’t have to compromise your vision due to a lack of parts options. The classic Submariner look is easy to achieve, and we can set you up with the correct Mercedes handset, and Submariner style stainless steel bezel – but you aren’t limited to this style in the slightest.
By the way Namoki have modded Seiko models on their website from £277, (pictured) which is pretty fair value we reckon when you consider how much a battered Seiko dive model can go for on eBay. Just saying.
The latest Ball Roadmaster Vanguard II now has a ceramic bezel for extra durability, taking this Swiss made watch up a notch. Ball are already producing handsome GMT models that feature striking gas-tube type lume on the hands and markers, bold dial designs and superb in-house, COSC level, movements. If you look at the polished steel cases and overall finish Ball are right up there with some of the best known Swiss brands, they just don’t get the High Street retailer exposure they deserve.
The latest Vanguard also has a day/night indicator at the 6pm position, so you can see if it’s night time back in GMT London when you’re travelling the world. Assuming you’re allowed to travel like a Towie celeb of course.
With quickset button features, steel bracelet and four variations on the familiar Blue/Black colour combinatuion that Rolex Batman lovers know so well, this watch is very good value at £1,525 on a pre-order deal (or £1,830 with a steel bracelet) until the 17th Feb 2021. It’s also a 1000 pieces limited edition.
It has a 200m depth rating as well, so it’s a GMT you can keep on your wrist when swimming.
Verdict; This is a serious, Swiss amde alternative to the 3 year waiting game for a Rolex Sub Batman, plus you get to save around 6 grand on the entry price. OK, you’ll never have that Rolex cachet or re-sale value, but you will own a beautifully made GMT for the same price as a military/retro piece from Longines, Rado, Tissot et al.
Clockworks Cashmear are doing something different. They’re offering quartz or automatic watches with interchangeable bezels, hands and sials, so that buyers can change the look of the watch according to their mood. Bit like owning a Fiat 500 but fitting new accessories and changing the paintwork yourself.
Cashmear is run by a Canadian engineer and he reckons that they’ve perfected the tricky business of letting owners swap parts like dial, hands and bezel, witha few turns of the winding crown.
Now, having worked with watches for six years, I can tell you that it is incredibly difficult to remove hands and then re-fit them, unless you have the correct tools, a steady hand and a dial protector in place. So how this can be accomplished by clicking the crown is something I would love to see. Surely the dial must be dropped gently onto the movement, then the hands put in position, with hour and minute aligned correctly, before the new bezel and crystal is laid over the top?
The Clockworks Cashmear appears to have a sort of release clutch wheel on the cannon pinion, so we are guessing this is the clever – patent panding – tech that offers the customisable options. Early buyers of the ETA 2824 powered automatic at approx £540 get a silver hands/dial option. If you want say three different colour options, then the entire caboodle is around £830 on the early bird deal.
It is an interesting idea, but having seen some cack-handed `expert’ watch collectors in the shop pull crowns out completely, key wind fusee pocket watches the wrong way, or bring in vintage watches with a scratched back because they tried to open the case on an Omega Seamaster with a kitchen knife, I’d say owner malfunction is a serious possibility.
There are so many indie brands doing great work right now that it’s hard to imagine the major Swiss brands won’t be impacted by this democracy of design and manufacturing at some point. Yes, a Swiss prestige brand has collector/investment value, but in terms of tool watch ability for under £500, it is hard to beat the hundreds of indie brands out there.
One of them is Raven, based in the USA and making a competitive automatic, powered by Seiko’s NH35 movement, from $430 retail. You get a 40mm steel case, a 300m depth rating and three rubber gaskets protecting the screwdown crown. That’s crucial because in my experience, that is exactly where the water can sneak inside on a typical fashion watch.
There’s an ETA powered Deep Tech model too, which costs $1100, but has upgraded dive features, like a 2500 metre depth rating. I mean that’s rescue-the-Titanic type depth, for the sort of cash that Rado wants for an entry level quartz. Let that sink in.
A case width of 42.5mm is arguably the perfect balance between size and comfort on the average wrist, and you get Superluminova, double gasket caseback, domed sapphire crystal, helium valve – all that good stuff.
Rivals from the Indie marketplace include the Deep Blue Bronze, which has a modest 500m depth, but at $899 is worth a look. Then there’s the Helberg CH1 Bronze, which has that Jules Verne vibe for 1426 euros – 6000m depth rating by the way. In case your submarine trip under the North Pole is going ahead with social distancing this summer.