Eventually every watch person will either think about modding their watch or actually do it. Seiko is one of the most popular options for watch modding, including the SKX series and the Seiko 5 line. There are an insane amount of watch mods parts including dials, crystals, hands and movements.  The beauty of modding Seikos is the fact that so many of the parts are interchangeable.  You will often find that dials from other Seikos will fit the case you want to use.  The movements are also fairly interchangeable, giving the modder plenty of options.

A modified Seiko 5 SNK809 on a Seiko bracelet
With a little digging on eBay, you can find a bracelet made by Seiko for the SNK series

Why mod a watch?

I don’t believe people mods these watches because they feel Seiko didn’t do a good job making the watch. People mod their watches because it is an extension of themselves and a relatively easy thing to do to showcase their personality. The more you investigate modding a watch, you will realize the possibilities are endless. Between handset combinations, dial configurations and bezel inserts there are billions of possible looks you can achieve.  There are a few modders out there who will also get their parts from broken watches, giving them access to OEM dials, handsets etc.  This allows them to create a unique piece that still looks like it came from the factory.

This Seiko SNK809 was purchased specifically to mod. I didn’t even wear it before I started my mods. I wanted to try my hand at watch modding without getting into the complex areas of changing movements and hands. Watch modding can get expensive the deeper into the weeds you go. I wanted a way to experiment with what I could do without a large investment.

A modified Seiko SNK809 on a brown leather strap. Mods include a sapphire crystal with blue AR and a polished case
The blue AR coating on the sapphire crystal completely changes the look of the dial on the SNK

Try Not to Break Anything

The first thing I did was polish the case using my Dremel and some Mother’s aluminum automotive polish. As soon as I started, I realized I was at the point of no return. This process was easy to do, only took about 15 minutes and immediately changed the whole look of the watch. My first thought after having the bezel polished was that it resembled a Hamilton Khaki Field. Changing the Seiko Hardlex crystal to sapphire was more complicated but still not that difficult with the right tools. Some patience and a crystal press made quick work of the new crystal.

After the mods I wanted to do were complete, I felt that I had my own watch that not a lot of other people had. The changes are subtle, but different enough to separate it from the thousands of other Seiko 5s out in the wild. If you want a custom watch without breaking the bank, I highly recommend starting with something simple like a Seiko 5 and a little bit of research.

A modified Seiko SNK809 on a Barton Bands black leather strap. Mods include a sapphire crystal with blue AR and a polished case

I Didn’t Break Anything

After completing the mods and wearing the “new” watch for some time, it always brings me joy. There is something to be said for doing something yourself that was a challenge. I don’t wear this watch as often as some of my others, but every time I do wear it I am reminded of the work I put into it. I successfully took apart a watch, replaced parts and changed the look of metal without destroying it. Watch modding is something I can check off my bucket list, but I don’t think this will be the last watch I mod.

More images of the Seiko SNK809

Check out the Seiko USA website