I first recall seeing a do-it-yourself watch kit online a few years ago. The concept seemed interesting; a company sends you the various components for a watch like the movement, dial, and hands in a box and you put it together. While I liked the idea, the watch itself didn’t appeal to me. It was a Roman numeral dress watch and that is something I simply don’t wear.
DIY Watch Club fell into this category until they launched their dive watch kit. These kits aren’t anything novel as I outlined above, but a few things stuck out to me with their kit that made me think the brand was owned by enthusiasts. Compatibility with some Seiko SKX mod parts, a lumed bezel insert, and an MN-style elastic strap were things that popped out at me.
Assembling the Watch
I’ve always wanted to assemble my own watch but didn’t want to go through the efforts of sourcing all the components that would be compatible with each other (something I learned while researching how to build my own watch). Finding hands that were the right weight for the movement or the right movement for the case I selected soon became daunting.
DIY Watch Club’s kit obviously solves that problem. There are a few things you can customize when you order such as the color of the bezel, but the kit sent to me was pre-selected for this review. When the kit arrived, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after unpacking the nicely presented components and watching the tutorial through as a dry-run, I felt I was ready to build my own watch.
The kit comes packed in a textile carrying case that resembles a zip-close binder. Each component of the watch and tool has its own place and it was neatly organized. I was thankful it wasn’t all thrown in a box for me to sort out. It even came with a kickstand for my phone.
Assembling the watch was relatively straightforward, especially after watching the tutorials once before assembling. The movement, hands, case components, and dial all come packaged separately. The case came partially assembled and had to be taken apart to properly assemble the watch. This is to cut down on things packed into separate compartments.
DIY Watch Club’s video tutorials were straightforward, easy to understand, and included specific points in which you were told to pause to complete a step. They told you things to watch out for or take notice of and included some common mistakes people might make on their first go with this kit. I’m sure it cuts down on angry customers calling for replacement parts but also gives you an idea of what can go wrong.
Setting the dial on the movement, fitting the chapter ring and aligning it, and putting the caseback on were easy. They are difficult steps to mess up and any amount of OCD will ensure everything is aligned correctly. The most challenging part of the assembly process was setting the hands. After watching the tutorial several times to ensure I was doing it correctly, I was happy that I was able to set the hands without bending them or destroying the movement (which can happen). If you were to bend one of the hands, an extra of each hand was included. As with the rest of the kit, taking your time and paying attention to the tutorial is paramount.
I’m sure that the tools included in the kit were not top-quality as costs have to be kept down. However, I found that the tools served their purpose well and I didn’t feel that I had something incapable of completing the task. I have better versions of some of the tools included but I opted to use the included tools to make sure my review was kept honest. The kit had everything you needed; nothing more and nothing less.
After completing assembly of my watch and seeing it running, I sat back and sighed with relief. I didn’t want to muck this up for two reasons. One, this was for a review and if I broke something I wouldn’t have much of a review. Two, I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never taken apart a watch to change hands or dials. The closest thing I’ve done is change a crystal on a Seiko SNK (which you can read about here). This kit gave me the confidence to mod a watch in the future. It was validation that I was capable of doing it.
At the end of this, you’re left with a completed watch. Anyone can source components to a watch and sell them as a kit, but will you have a cohesive design that makes people want to buy the kit for the finished product and not just the experience? Let’s find out what the DIY Watch Club DWC-01A is like when it’s done.
On the Wrist
The 41mm case of the DWC-01A is undeniably chunky. It’s relatively thick with long lugs and after putting it together, I was nervous that I was going to have a watch that was too big for my wrist. Boy was I wrong. The lugs turn down dramatically and have heavy bevels that help break up their thickness. I’m not a huge fan of saying a watch hugs the wrist, but this one sure does.
I’m not sure if this case is an original design or is off-the-shelf from somewhere but it is different from other watches I’ve worn and I can’t quite point to an identical watch. However, due to the fact that it is compatible with some Seiko mod parts, it must be derived from other Seiko divers. Perhaps that is where it gets its comfort from.
DIY Watch Club could have gone a few ways with the strap options for the DWC-01A. Rubber straps are always a great option for dive watches but there is definitely a bit of a trend surrounding MN-style elastic straps. The straps, popularized by brand Erika’s Originals, have found their way into many strap shops and it’s a good fit for this watch. It keeps the weight down and makes it a great fit on anyone’s wrist. I wouldn’t mind seeing DIY Watch Club add a bracelet as an add-on but I also realize that might drastically increase the cost.
DIY Watch Club DWC-D01 Video Review
The DWC-01A is extremely legible. The handset chosen for this watch stands out prominently against the matte black dial and there is no question which hand is which. They are mirror-polished and filled with plenty of lume.
The dial is entirely printed and the text on the dial is similar to what one would expect on a traditional Seiko diver. Their logo and model name is at 12 o’clock and Automatic and the water resistance rating is at 6 o’clock. Of course the water resistance rating might vary based on who assembled the watch and whether the instructions were followed. If I were going to take this watch in the water I would consider having it pressure-tested. I don’t have a problem with DIY Watch Club’s name as it is self-explanatory but I’m glad they chose a logo at 12 o’clock.
Printed markers surround the dial and they are filled with a decent amount of lume. I was pleasantly surprised with the lume application. I wasn’t sure if it was my error or not, but there were a few white specks on the dial that couldn’t be removed. Given the DIY-nature of this watch, it is entirely possible those were my fault.
Case & Bezel
I discussed above how comfortable the case is. DIY Watch Club did a great job picking the case for this watch. I was happy to see that the finishing on the case was well-executed. The brushing grain was pleasing and I didn’t find any blemishes on the polished surfaces. I’m not sure what degree of quality control these go through, but everything looked good.
The crown is awesome. It is just the right size and the knurling allows for a good grip. I was expecting the crown action when screwing and unscrewing to be a bit rough but I was happy it is smooth and easy to operate. I also installed the crown correctly because I have yet to fling it across the room when popping it out.
The DWC-01A has an exhibition caseback which is a fine choice for the watch given that the people putting it together might want to get a look inside at their handiwork. You don’t see many divers with exhibition casebacks but they are becoming more common. At the very least, you get a good look at the Seiko NH35 movement ticking away inside.
The bezel is hit-and-miss. I love the look of the bezel; the insert looks great with the rest of the watch and the contrasting blue lume (the dial is green) on the entire bezel looks awesome when lit up at night. Thankfully, I was able to make sure the bezel was aligned perfectly because I put it in myself. I do wish the tension of the bezel wasn’t so tight. I had a hard time turning it and because the strap is elastic, I found the watch spinning on my wrist when turning it. I am hopeful it will loosen over time.
I was asked by a few people leading up to this review if this is something I would recommend to other watch enthusiasts. My answer is yes with a caveat. If that person doesn’t have experience modding watches, this is perfect. That was the bucket I fell into and it gave me an outlet to learn more about taking things apart and putting them back together. I could see an experienced modder being bored with this kit, which is to be expected. This would also make an awesome gift for someone who isn’t a watch enthusiast but likes mechanical things or is a tinkerer.
What I liked most about this experience was that it gave me a watch that looked great at the end and was something I put my hands on. Many watch enthusiasts want watches they can feel attached to and this provides an easy way to get that. I am often buying and selling watches but I know this one will stick around. Just by the nature of putting it together myself, I already have a sentimental attachment to it.
This kit also gave me a new way to experience my hobby. As I said before, I’m not heavily into watch modding and wasn’t sure I would ever buy all the components myself to build my own watch. This kit gave me an outlet for that. This was a fun experience and might launch me further into watch modding than I previously thought.
Check out more dive watch reviews at The Watch Clicker
Check out the DIY Watch Club website
DIY Watch Club DWC-D01 Specs