If you've come to this blog page, you're probably either thinking about building your first watch or have been building / modding watches already and questioning yourself why you do it...
From a personal perspective, I wanted to find a way to combine my creative spirit with my love for horology. When I started to look into how to build a watch or mod an existing watch, I realised that, with the right research and learning on the job, it would be something I could successfully achieve and hopefully one day, master.
The only hard part was getting started!
However, with now over 40 watch builds (and counting) under my belt, I was interested in understanding why I was so passionate about the hobby. So, in my opinion, I try to answer the question...
Why do we build our own watches?
Unless you are spending the really big bucks, rarely are there watches that are truly unique or even extremely limited edition. Heck, that's not a bad thing. You can see reviews of your favourite watches, you can even get intricate details on all the specs, but you will always know that it is one of a host of watches worn by others around the world.
Welcome therefore to watch building and watch modding! In this world, you can either start from scratch and create something that is truly unique and tailored to you, or alternatively make tweaks to a watch you already own to give it that personalised touch.
Either way, the opportunities to create the ideal watch that you picture in your mind is almost endless. Like in the world of Lego, take the pieces that interest you most and create whatever you want! Who cares if it is a homage to a Rolex Submariner or a watch that contains all the colours of the rainbow. The choice is ultimately yours.
Now, I am not saying that horology doesn't have other ways to achieve personal pride and accomplishment. Most people have a grail watch and the accomplishment of saving and aspiring until that day comes when you can buy it, is immense.
However, I can say from personal experience that there are watches in my collection that I have bought that although, in my opinion, are probably more aesthetically pleasing, I still get significantly more pleasure from wearing a watch that I have built or modded. And why? The euphoria of knowing that you created the watch you are wearing is almost unmatched. The levels of pride are colossal!
Here's a story for you. My first ever watch build did not go without fault. On removing the hands to re-align them I scratched the dial quite badly with a set of tweezers and, believe me, it is noticeable.
Did I bin the watch? No! I kept it and I wear that watch with pride. Why? Because that watch is the single definition of success for me. It was the first time that I took a movement, a dial, a set of hands, a case and a strap and created a working watch! Like the first broken bone you get on the sports field, those are scratches I am super proud of (and have learnt much from ever since).
The COVID pandemic has been difficult and so unbelievably much worse for others than for me. I have been very fortunate. Due to the pandemic though, the majority of my hobbies were curtailed due to government limitations. It was worse in the early days when sports events and seasons were halted or cancelled.
I needed something to do that allowed me to keep my brain active, give me a sense of purpose (outside of home life and work) and make me feel positive with a sense of achievement.
I had always had a love for watches, and loved exploring the world of affordable watches. For me, understanding how watches worked and more about the history of watches was the next clear step. For anybody who hasn't already, I would strongly recommend investing in "A Man & His Watch" by Matt Hranek. Great read and great watches!
And, it was in researching watches that I found this great community of watch modders. The rest, as they say, is history, which brings me on to...
The thing about building so many watches for personal use is that you can sometimes get the equivalent of "writers block". I'm always in the market for stock and will often buy a dial, just because I like it, with no final watch design in mind. Sometimes I truly have no idea what to do with it.
What I have found amazing is the watch community, and within it this group of creatives coming up with these astounding ideas for watches through the medium of watch creation and watch modding. Whenever I am in need of inspiration, I am straight onto Instagram or a watch forum to look at some of the watches these super talented and imaginative folk are coming up with. It really doesn't take long to feel inspired.
But, even better, when you show your creations off too, everyone is super positive, supportive and complimentary. A great hobby, supported by truly great people!
(until you get addicted!!)
As you will see from my blog posts, it is possible to build an automatic watch for under £100. True - you can also buy an affordable watch for less, but I don't think these 2 things are an either, or subject. You can be a watch collector and a watch modder.
Here are a few examples of watches I have built for under £100:
Am I going to break the bank with this hobby? No! Will people one day want to buy my creations? Who knows! But for now, what I do know is I love coming up with an idea and seeing it come to life. It doesn't always work out exactly as planned, but that is half the fun!
If you have any questions about watch modding or watch building or want some inspiration on how to get started, please don't hesitate to get in contact via the "Contact" page or comment below.